On March 31, 2011, Carlson Hotel’s goldpoints plus was replaced with a new hotel loyalty program. Called Club Carlson, the program will offer new vacation options through partnerships with CWT Vacations and Club Med, a new elite tier will be added and elite rollover nights will be introduced among other changes such as redemption amounts for award nights.
All award categories will see a decrease in the number of points needed for an award night. Category 1 will be 9,000 points (from 15,000 points), Category 2 will be 16,000 points (from 25,000 points), Category 3 will be 28,000 points (from 30,000 points), Category 4 will be 38,000 points (from 40,000 points), Category 5 will be 44,000 points (from 50,000 points) and Category 6 hotels will be 50,000 points (from 60,000 points). However, according to analysis by Loyalty Traveler on BoardingArea.com, more than 200 hotels in the lower Categories of 1, 2 and 3 will be in higher categories in Club Carlson. And Category 1 will see about 90 of the current 135 hotels shift to a higher category.
The new CWT Vacation partnership offers U.S.-based members a choice to spend their points at hundreds of independent hotels in vacation destinations like Hawaii, Las Vegas, ski resort areas and cruises. The partnership with Club Med provides members in the U.S. and Canada access to 80 all-inclusive resorts worldwide. Both CWT Vacation and Club Med are redemption only partners.
Carlson has also added 20 new retail and restaurant partners for more point redemption options including Amazon.com, Best Buy, iTunes and T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants.
The new Concierge elite tier (the new top tier for the program) offers members complimentary room upgrades and continental breakfast, early check-in and late checkout, a 75 percent point bonus on stays, and starting by mid-year, access to a special Concierge Service line for theater and sports tickets and reservations at top-rated restaurants anywhere in the world. Rollover nights will allow members to roll over excess nights to qualify toward their next year’s elite status (similar to Marriott’s rollover nights offer).
Members can also now download a Club Carlson iPhone and Android app, which features express booking for all Carlson hotels, personalization options, GPS mapping and the ability to redeem points. The app also links to “Explore Destinations”, which stores more than 4.4 million points of interest from local restaurants to tourist attractions.
Visit http://www.clubcarlson.com for details about the new program.
Bottom line: We’re happy to see that Carlson Hotels is finally acknowledging Carlson in the name of the loyalty program and instead of just changing the name, have put some thought into improving the program for their members. Rollover elite nights are a good way to help keep members loyal to their program and adding a top tier will go a long way in keeping their best customers happy. The category shifts are bad news in places, but this is a common occurrence as hotels adjust their redemption amounts according to the current market conditions.