Summer 2009 I was interviewed by Barbara DeLollis of USA Today about the state of hotel loyalty promotions. The message I conveyed was grab as many bonuses as you can while hotel stays offered highly lucrative rebates in bonus points, free nights, airline miles and easy elite status. The hotel industry panic in 2009 spawned a loyalty incentives bonanza to get guests staying in hotels.
The recent wave of hotel category reassignments reveals an optimistic forecast in 2012. In just four programs more than 2,000 hotels worldwide increased points needed for free nights:
- Hilton HHonors (330 up, 117 down)
- Priority Club higher tiers (1,100 hotels up, ? down; no publicly published list of changes)
- Starwood Preferred Guest (183 up, 125 down)
- Marriott (526 up, 100 down)
Last year was a strong year for hotels. Hotel promotions are mostly back to pre-2009 normal for the summer travel months of 2012. The best news is overall elite member benefits over the past three years improved across nearly every hotel loyalty program. Hotel brand loyalty programs have more defined benefits like internet and breakfast for their frequent guest elite members.
2012 Summer Travel Promotions
Hyatt Gold Passport offers bonus airline miles for guests who stay up to 11 times from May 1 to July 31, 2012 at Hyatt Hotels worldwide. This offer is 4x or 5x the normal rate and earns 24,500 total miles after 11 stays. Nearly 25,000 airline miles is a decent rebate on $1,000 in hotel spend, but not so good for $3,000 or more in Hyatt stays.
2009 Rewind: May 8-Aug 31, 2009 Hyatt Gold Passport offered 6x miles per stay for 12 airlines. In October 2009 Hyatt offered United 1K members 5,500 United miles per stay, and The Next Big Thing promotion gave a free night every two stays or 3,000 points per stay and all stays counted double for elite credit.
Starwood Preferred Guest Nice Choice from May 1-Sept. 30, 2012 offers members their choice of a three month promotion period and a choice from 11 earning bonuses. Most of the choices have a value equivalent to 500 or 1,000 bonus points per paid hotel night. Double and triple points benefit high spenders. A free weekend night award for up to a Category 5 hotel after 10 paid nights has an earn limit of two free nights. SPG appears to be courting 50-plus nights elite members. I hope they don’t lose touch with the leisure traveler.
2009 Rewind: May to July 2009 SPG offered a free weekend night every two stays up to Category 6 hotels, no earn limit. SPG then allowed stacking free nights with 1,000 Delta/Northwest miles per stay.
As a reality check for the SPG Nice Choice promotion, Kimpton Hotels InTouch loyalty members benefit from a regular policy of one free night earned after every seven stays or 20 nights. Kimpton hotel credits accumulate year over year, not three months like with SPG Nice Choice promotion. Kimpton Inner Circle elite members with 15 stays or 45 nights in a calendar year get a free night at any new Kimpton Hotel and members who stay in 10 or more different Kimpton Hotels earn a two-night complimentary stay.
Marriott Rewards Summer Bonus June 1-Aug. 31
Two stays from June 1 to Aug. 31, 2012 earn a free night certificate valid for one year for a Marriott Rewards Category 1-4 hotel. This offer can be earned three times.
Three other promotion variations: 15,000 points with stays in four Marriott brands or 15,000 points with three weekend stays or 40,000 points after 25 nights.
2009 Rewind: Marriott Rewards May 11 to June 26, 2009 offered double elite nights for paid stays and introduced the elite rollover nights promotion policy still in effect for 2012 stays. Marriott Rewards summer offer in 2009 was a maximum one free night after three stays June 1-Aug. 31, 2009.
Thumbs up! Marriott Rewards has a better free night promotion offer in 2012 than in 2009.
Club Carlson is a hotel loyalty program that has completely restructured over the past three years. As I write this, there’s no official word yet how Club Carlson will follow the Nov.-Dec. 2011 Big Night Giveaway of 50,000 points for one stay at a Radisson in the U.S. and 2012 Triple Points from Jan. 10-March 16. Triple points made Club Carlson, normally the fastest earning hotel loyalty program for a free night award, significantly better for earning free nights. Club Carlson just might surprise again for summer travel.
Hilton HHonors still has a chance to trump the competition with a good value summer hotel stay incentive promotion after double points or miles ends June 30. Although, Marriott Rewards’ free night every two stays is hard to beat for high value summer travel incentive.