Jun032008

Choice Privileges Summer Tutorial

In the spirit of budget travel planning for summer 2008, I have written an overview of the Choice Privileges hotel loyalty program.

Choice Hotels – Overview

More than 5,500 hotel members and more than 450,000 rooms in Choice Privileges makes this program a benefit for travelers in smaller towns and cities across the USA. The program even offers international hotel properties in 40 countries and territories. USA hotel members are around 4,500 with about 355,000 rooms. Nearly 1,000 hotels are currently in development with additional room capacity approaching another 200,000 rooms for the USA in the coming few years.
Choice Hotels also have about 45,000 rooms in Europe and over 400 hotel members. There are over 330 hotels and 25,000 rooms in Asia/Pacific with Australia and New Zealand well represented. Choice hotels have a small market share in Latin America. There are only about 100 Choice hotel members in the western hemisphere outside the USA and Canada. There is one Choice hotel in the Middle East and none in Africa. Choice Privileges enrollment passed 5,000,000 in 2006.
There are 10 hotel brands in the Choice Hotels family [brand hotel data from (2007 report)].
1. Comfort Inn – Choice Hotels flagship brand, USA 1,434 hotels ; international 532 hotels; 2007 Average room rate in USA = $79.68 in 2007
2. Comfort Suites – USA 481 hotels; international 10 hotels. This brand will grow rapidly with almost 300 hotels currently in development. Room rate data combined with above.
3. Quality Inn – USA 828 hotels; international 382 hotels
Average room rate in USA = $70.30 in 2007
4. Sleep Inn – USA 346 hotels; international 24 hotels
Average room rate in USA = $69.67 in 2007
5. Clarion – USA 167 hotels; international 115 hotels
Average room rate in USA = $80.86 in 2007
6. Cambria Suites – 9 hotels in USA; brand opened in 2007 as an upscale hotel brand and rooms are larger with plasma TVs, refrigerator, CD stereo, microwave, upscale bath, and a sofa-bed, in addition to main bed. There are 60 more Cambria Suites in development.
No Average room rate data for 2007. (Online check for Boise, ID on June 6, 2008 showed regular rate of $79-89 for one night.)
7. MainStay Suites – USA 30 hotels
Average room rate in USA = $70.04 in 2007
8. Suburban Extended Stay – USA 54 hotels
Average room rate in USA = $40.13 in 2007
9. EconoLodge – USA 825 hotels; international 45 hotels
Average room rate in USA = $54.40 in 2007
10. Rodeway Inn – USA 276 hotels; international 6 hotels; budget category hotel brand
Average room rate in USA = $53.24 in 2007
International properties are concentrated in Canada (273 hotels), Australia (224 hotels), France (103 hotels), UK (86 hotels), Norway (69 hotels), Sweden (60 hotels), Brazil (48 hotels), Germany (42 hotels), Japan (42 hotels), New Zealand (30 hotels) and a scattering of hotels in nearly 30 other countries. [Note: Choice Privileges has a rule prohibiting points for stays in Norway, Sweden, and some other smaller Baltic countries].

Choice Privileges Hotel Loyalty Program

Choice Privileges enrollment passed 5,000,000 in 2006.
Earn Points:
Two-tier system for hotel brands
10 points/$1 US for hotel room rate excluding tax, and for other incidental room charges like restaurant, etc. at Clarion, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Cambria Suites, and Sleep Inn hotels “in the U.S., Canada, Europe (excluding Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden), Mexico and the Caribbean.”
[Important to Note: Choice Privileges hotel points are only awarded for stays in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and parts of Europe. Choice Privileges has terms prohibiting points for stays in Norway, Sweden, and some other smaller Baltic countries in Europe. No points credit for Asia/Pacific hotel stays.]
5 points/$1 US for hotel room rate excluding tax, and for other incidental room charges like restaurant, etc. at MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay hotels, EconoLodge, and Rodeway Inn locations in the USA and Canada.

Choice Privileges guest member may receive hotel points credit for up to two rooms per night, however, elite stay credit and elite bonus points credit will only be granted for one room per night.

Redeem Points:

9 tiers of hotels for free night using points redemptions and reservations using points may not be made more than 30 days in advance of stay. Elite member guests have the benefit of advance bookings (60 days for elite platinum (25+ nights/year) or 90 days for elite diamond (40+ nights/year).

Most hotels I checked for California, France, and New York City fell in the 16,000 to 25,000 range. I didn’t have time to locate a sample hotel in each tier.
6,000 points –
8,000 points –
10,000 points –
12,000 points –
16,000 points – some Monterey area hotels, Quality Hotel Carlton Beaulieu, French Riviera
20,000 points – most Monterey area hotels
25,000 points – Carmel-by-the-Sea Clarion and Comfort Inn Midtown NYC, Clarion Park Ave NYC
30,000 points
35,000 points
Purchase points:
A Choice Privilege member can purchase up to 10,000 hotel points per calendar year.
Points Expiration:
Choice Privileges hotel points expire December 31, two years after year deposited into account.
Frequent Guest Elite Membership:
Choice Privileges has three tiers of elite membership for frequent guests.

10+ nights/year = Gold and offers a 10% elite bonus on hotel points and special member offers.
25+ nights/year = Platinum and offers 25% elite bonus on hotel points, and advance free night reservations using hotel points for up to 60 days in advance of stay.
40+ nights/year = Diamond and offers 40% elite bonus on hotel points, and advance free night reservations using hotel points for up to 90 days in advance of stay and the possibility of complimentary upgrades where available.
Choice Privileges Summer 2008 Promotions
Choice Privileges has a summer gas card promotion offer after 3 stays with Choice Privileges hotel members between June 1 – August 14, 2008. The promotion actually is for 16,000 Choice Privileges points which can then be redeemed for a $50 gas card, however, the points will likely have much higher value if redeemed for a free hotel night instead.
The fine print of this promotion excludes 4 of the hotel brands from being qualifying stays for the 16,000 points after 3 stays. Qualifying stays for this promotion are only for the hotel brands of Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Cambria Suites, and Clarion.
The four hotel brands of MainStay Suites, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn, and Suburban Extended Stay hotels do not count as qualifying stays for the Gas Card promotion. These hotel brands have a separate promotion offering 1,000 bonus points per stay for the same promotional period.
The value of a $50 gas card might get you home from your hotel stay. For travelers, here is a better idea. There are 8 Choice Privileges member hotels on the French Riviera. A free night at the Quality Hotel Carlton Beaulieu, Beaulieu-sur-Mer is only 16,000 points this summer.
A budget value vacation this summer at Choice Hotels brands in the USA can bring an equivalent value in future hotel savings. Three paid stays in the USA can earn free nights at Choice Privileges hotels in Europe to easily save $200US/night on the regular hotel rates priced in Euros.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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