Most hotel loyalty programs announced major Fall 2010 promotions by early September with the notable exception of Hilton. Hotel chains have seriously scaled back bonus offers from the generous free night promotions of summer.
Hotel industry data indicate occupancy and room rates have risen worldwide. Pegasus Solutions reported a one percent increase in leisure travel room rates globally for the first time since the recession. Rising occupancy and room rates appear to have dampened the promotional prospects for loyalty travelers this season.
Earning limits on several of the major offers make this season a prime opportunity to stay with different chains. Pick the best of the rest after you max out the offer in your primary loyalty program.
IHG Priority Club — Sweet Dilemma
InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club has a free night offer, but with a “Sweet Dilemma” catch. Stay two times between Sept. 20 and Dec. 31, 2010 at any IHG brand hotel, except Asia-Pacific region hotels, and earn a free night at any IHG hotel outside Asia-Pacific. Members can earn up to five free nights for stays between Dec. 1 and May 31, 2011. Free night reservations may not be modified and are forfeited if cancelled.
The catch is once you register for free nights your hotel stays are ineligible for earning Priority Club base and elite points for the entire promotion period, even if you max out the free night offer after 10 stays. This is a disincentive for more than 10 stays.
Priority Club has an alternative offer for double points or miles during this same timeframe. Double points/miles apply to all IHG stays, even Asia-Pacific hotels.
Hyatt Gold Passport — Great 10K
Earn 10,000 bonus points after every five nights at any Hyatt brand hotel from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15, 2010. There was plenty of uproar from disappointed members who anticipated another season of earning free nights. This promotion might still be the best deal for fall travel considering other chains’ offers. Gold Passport is allowing members to combine this offer with the concurrent American Airlines 2,500 bonus miles per stay ending Oct. 15. Hyatt has liberally allowed members to earn both miles and points in combined promotions this past year.
Marriott Rewards — MegaBonus
The perennial MegaBonus is back with a free night after two stays paid with Visa between Sept. 15 and Jan. 15, 2011. The free night is only valid for lowly category 1 to 4 hotels and there is a promotion limit of two free nights. Free nights must be used by May 31, 2011.
Some targeted members received MegaBonus point offers instead of free nights. Marriott Rewards members may be able to change their MegaBonus offer through customer service if the targeted offer is not the most appropriate for your travel plans this season.
An alternative to MegaBonus is triple miles for stays from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010. Miles and points cannot be earned for the same stay with Marriott Rewards, although you can switch to earning miles after maxing out the MegaBonus two free nights after four stays. Earn triple miles for every stay beginning with second stay. Marriott has 30 airline partners.
Hilton HHonors — Delta SkyMiles up to 10,000 MQM
Stay two or more nights and earn 1,000 Delta elite qualifying miles per HHonors stay Sept. 1 through Dec 10, 2010. Reaching elite airline status with Hilton hotel stays is truly a Double Dip.
SPG — Every Night Counts
SPG is the weakest offer in the upscale hotel promotions. Earn double base points for your first nine nights from Sept. 8 through Dec. 15, 2010. Stay 10 or more nights and earn triple points for every night, applied retroactively; $2,000 in hotel spend with triple base points earns only 8,000 bonus points. A free category 3 hotel night after $2,000 in spend is not very rewarding for SPG.
Choice Privileges — 8,000 points every two stays
General members are limited to four bonuses or 32,000 points for eight stays from Aug. 26 to Nov. 3, 2010. Platinum and Diamond elites have no limit for this promotion. This promotion applies to stays at midscale brands like Clarion, Comfort and Quality Inn. The economy segment brands of Choice Hotels have a separate promotion for double points with every stay.
Best Western Rewards — Triple Points or Triple Miles
Earn triple points on your second stay booked online Sept. 12 through Nov 21, 2010. General members can only earn one bonus. Elite members also earn triple points on fourth stay. The better offer during this same period is 750 bonus miles for every second stay with American Airlines AAdvantage or quadruple Aeroplan bonus miles. There is no earning limit for bonus miles.
2010 is closing with disappointingly meager hotel loyalty promotions. I’m wishing for better offers in 2011.