Letters – February, 17 2010

Letters – February, 17 2010

It’s All About Saving Money

I recently sent a direct complaint to Hilton HHonors over the increase in redemption rates for award stays. I have had difficulties even with Silver status in getting a reasonable stay rate at several properties on our vacation drive route to the South at Spring Break. We have also had difficulty redeeming points for stays at hotels in the vicinity of high school state championships for my daughter’s events.

What are these points for if they cannot be redeemed when I want to redeem them?

In addition, the redemption rates for hotels are already too high with Hilton at most properties. It is typical now to find no less than 20,000 points–whatever happened to 10,000? If I fly on an airline and spend $15,000 in coach fares, I generally have enough points to fly my family to Hawaii or somewhere else (remembering there are five of us) and that is worth no less than $3,000, or a one-for-five discount rate. With HHonors, the rate is more like 18!

I have been using Choice Hotels and am considering replacing Hilton with Starwood or some other plan, but the proliferation of properties and occasional GOOD DEALS on actual price keeps me in the HHonors program, even if the redemption is not any good. I might be better off just using miles to book hotels–or buy the steeply discounted hotels for my family when it is time to vacation on Priceline. It is all about saving money when it comes time to spend my hard-earned cash.

Dejected but Optimistic

I have found more hotels (both chains and individual properties) offering free Internet as part of the service. I’ve also noticed more hotels providing a hybrid–free wireless in the lobby, but paid Internet (wired or wireless) in the room.

Personally, I almost always need Internet access when I travel. About two thirds of my trips involve hotels that are arranged for specific conferences or meetings, and in those cases it is becoming much more common that Internet is part of the negotiated rate (this could be a field bias, being in computer science). For the rest, I do look at Internet charges as one of the factors in my decision, though in many cases I find the best choice is still to stay at a place where I end up paying for the Internet.

My pet peeve is with a few very high-end hotels, and with far too many hotels overseas, that charge outrageous rates for Internet access. (I’ve experienced this in England, France, Switzerland, New Zealand and several other countries.) In many cases, we’re talking about $25 or more per day, often with severe limits on total traffic as well. This is doubly annoying since I often use my Internet connection to call back to the states (using Skype). In a few cases, I’ve ended up dragging my laptop to a public Internet cafe to get reasonably-priced connection time.

Editors’ Note: Joseph, see the article we wrote about this subject in this magazine entitled “Free Hotel Internet”.

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