ROAD TRIPPING AMERICA? THINK MIDSCALE.
Six thousand miles of road tripping was already my summer travel plan in May when I found myself in the DiscoverAmerica pavilion in San Francisco at the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow for U.S. travel marketers. As I walked miles of aisles featuring over 1,000 travel booths for destinations across the U.S. from Alaska to Key West and Maine, I realized there is so little time for so many places requiring so many miles of travel to see our country. We all choose where to travel. I’m road tripping America this summer.
“I mean everybody’s got to take a road trip, at least once in their lives. Just you and some music.” — Claire Colburn in the movie ‘Elizabethtown’.
A travel bloggers conference in June provided an excuse to plan a road trip and see some of the six major National Parks between San Francisco and Canada. An exemplary travel value is an annual National Parks pass at $80 per year. This pass gives free admission to all National Parks, National Monuments and National Historical Parks for one year from date of purchase for the passholder and up to three other adults (children under 16 are free) per vehicle. Lifetime passes are $10 for seniors 62 or older and free for persons permanently disabled. Visit www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm.
Hotel Loyalty in Midscale America
Planning a road trip across rural areas of the U.S. reveals locations where the nearest Starwood, Hyatt and other full-service hotels are hundreds of miles away. There might be a Hampton Inn for the Hilton HHonors member, or a Fairfield Inn or Courtyard for Marriott Rewards guests or even a Holiday Inn Express for the Priority Club traveler, but some rural areas I mapped for hotel stays revealed only one hotel representing each of these major loyalty programs along a 200-mile stretch of road.
Best Western, Choice Hotels and Wyndham dominate the midscale/economy hotel market in rural U.S.
Best Western Rewards has 4,000+ hotels in three tiers. Best Western aptly titles its travel blog “You Must Be Trippin”.
Choice Privileges has 6,000+ hotels in 11 brands including Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn brands.
Wyndham Rewards has 7,000+ hotels in more than a dozen brands including Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, Ramada and Travelodge. These three loyalty programs have more midscale hotels in the U.S. than the other top 10 hotel loyalty program chains combined. Many of these midscale hotels provide both complimentary breakfast and free Internet.
Summer 2011 Free Night Promotions
U.S. travelers have good travel news for the summer season 2011. Hotel loyalty programs and their promotions offer several high-value hotel stay rebate offers with the ability to earn points and free night credit for paid stays this summer wherever your travels may take you.
This loyalty traveler rarely stays at a hotel without a rebate offer. I feel so much better when spending $100 for a hotel night knowing I will get $20, $50 or sometimes even the entire $100 back as a rebate on a future hotel night.
Best Western Rewards — Stay three times for a free night voucher June 19-Aug. 14. This offer for U.S. residents allows members to earn one free night during the promotion period with three separate stays at any Best Western worldwide. The free night is good for any Best Western in the U.S., Canada and Caribbean. Limit of one free night per member. Registration required.
Choice Privileges — Earn 8,000 points after two stays May 19-Aug. 11. Stay two times at Choice Hotels and your account balance will receive bonus points up to 8,000 total points. The terms require a two-night stay at Rodeway Inn, EconoLodge, MainStay or Suburban Suites to qualify for bonus points at these budget and extended stay Choice Hotels brands. Over 1,500 hotels in the Choice Hotels network are available for a free night at either 6,000 or 8,000 points.
This promotion earns a total 8,000 points whether your stay costs $50 or $500, so more bonus points compared to base points are earned from low-cost hotel stays.
Wyndham Rewards — 1,000 bonus points per stay June 1-Sept. 5. This offer is valid at U.S. and Canada hotels. Free nights at most brands cost 6,000 to 16,000 points. Two one-night stays at $60 per night will put you more than halfway to a 6,000 points free night.
Marriott Rewards — Earn one free night after two stays June 1-Aug. 31. Earn up to two free nights during promotion. Register by June 30.
Starwood Preferred Guest — Earn one free night at a Starwood resort after three stays May 1-July 31.
Also check regional hotel chains like Drury Hotels for good value loyalty program offers if your travel plans take you through the Midwest or Red Lion Inn for the Pacific Northwest.