Jun062008

Carlson Hotels Worldwide GoldPoints Plus

Ric’s Note: The past week I have posted overviews of Wyndham Rewards, Choice Privileges, and Best Western Gold Crown Club (Randy Petersen reports the rumor that a name change to Best Western Rewards is in the works). I was actually writing these in the spirit of budget travel. Then, I come across a FlyerTalk thread mentioning hotels in Europe are available at 50% off standard redemption rates for Radisson. I’m reminded of a Radisson Gold Points advertisement I kept seeing in May on FlyerTalk making a claim to being the easiest hotel program to earn free nights or some such bold statement (sorry, I don’t remember the ad wording and I didn’t ever get a screen shot. Send me an email if you know the wording of the Radisson ad I am taking about).

These blog posts are not comprehensive analyses of the hotel loyalty programs. I have written quick basic informational overviews and report some of my findings as I navigated the hotel loyalty program and corporate websites for a particular chain. The primary issue for me as a hotel loyalty program analyst focused on the consumer is user-friendliness and function for both the frequent guest program and the loyalty program and reservations websites.

*****

Radisson Hotels – GoldPoints Plus

The Radisson Hotels and Resorts websites were terrific for ease of navigation and locating relevant information about the loyalty program, points required for a free night, and elite member benefits.

Carlson Hotel Family – 985 hotels worldwide in five hotel brands in 71 countries. The first Radisson hotel was opened in 1909 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Radisson Hotels and Resorts is one of the hotel brands of Carlson Hotels Worldwide. Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Radisson Hotels and Resorts (USA) – mid-scale to upscale lodging segment with about 400 full-service hotels in the flagship brand in 64 countries
Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts (international) upscale lodging segment
Radisson Edwardian Hotels (UK and London) – 13 hotels in upscale lodging segment

Regent Hotels and Resorts (luxury lodging segment) – 9 hotels with several more in construction. These luxury hotels were part of Four Seasons when bought by Carlson in 1997.

Park Plaza – (mid-scale to upscale lodging sector) about 40 hotels and many international locations

Country Inns and Suites – (mid-scale lodging sector) over 450 hotels in North America, Europe, Latin America and India

Park Inn – (mid-scale lodging sector) about 100 hotels worldwide

 

Earning GoldPoints

20 Gold Points per $1 US or Euro in eligible hotel spending at Radisson Hotels and Resorts, Regent Hotels, and Park Plaza hotels.

15 Gold Points per $1 US or Euro in eligible hotel spending at Country Inns and Suites and Park Inn hotels.

500 bonus points for booking online. (Most major hotel programs eliminated online booking bonuses years ago.)

The points earnings are biased against Euro currency. This is certainly not as good a deal for the hotel stay purchases made in Europe when the Euro is worth 50% more than the dollar. How are points calculated for a European member staying in the Middle East on a currency different from USD or EUR?

 

Redeeming Points for Free Nights

The GoldPoints website offers every hotel member redemption rate for a free night using GoldPoints on a single webpage.

There are 6 tiers of hotels for free night reward redemption starting at 15,000 GoldPoints for a Tier 1 free night and rising to 90,000 GoldPoints for a free night at a Tier 6 hotel (Gold Elite members earn 50% bonus points or 30 points/$1 so 90,000 points for a free night at a Tier 6 hotel is equivalent to $3,000 in eligible hotel spending).

While the points earning rate for GoldPoints is double the rate for Marriott or IHG Priority Club and even exceeds Hilton HHonors earnings using Points and Points preference (15 points per $1), the redemption level for a free night is more than double the number of points for any of the comparable major hotel loyalty programs of Marriott, Hilton, IHG, or Hyatt. Only SPG seems to look worse for earning redeemable nights (3 Starpoints/$1 earned for SPG Platinum compared to 30 GoldPoints/$1 earned) at the high end hotels (30,000 Starpoints per free night at Starwood Preferred Guest Category 7 hotel = $10,000 spending).

With hotel programs the mid-tier redemption category hotels tend to be better values as few lowest-tier hotels exist in most hotel loyalty programs. And high-tier properties are either resorts or extremely high demand locations where a member will often find better value by paying cash than redeeming points.

 

Free Nights Using GoldPoints

GoldPoints free night awards cost 10% less points for each additional night after the first night. (Except for Tier 4 hotels which are only a 9% discount on points due to rounding in GoldPoints favor rather than the frequent guest. )

Tier 1 hotels = 15,000 points for the first night, and 13,500 points for each additional night.
Tier 2 = 25,000 points for the first night, and 22,500 points for each additional night.
Tier 3 = 30,000 points for the first night, and 27,000 points for each additional night.
Tier 4 = 45,000 points for the first night, and 41,000 points for each additional night.
(Should be 40,500 points if the 10% reduction pattern were followed in all hotel tiers).
Tier 5 = 60,000 points for the first night, and 54,000 points for each additional night.
Tier 6 = 90,000 points for the first night, and 81,000 points for each additional night.

 

Flexible rewards are available for periods with no standard hotel free night award availability at a cost of 50% more for the first night.

The flex night discount for extended stays with additional nights using points is not a simple percentage reduction like standard awards.

Tier 1 = 22,500 points for the first night, and 19,500 points for each additional night.
(13% discount for additional nights.)
Tier 2 = 37,500 points for the first night, and 33,000 points for each additional night.
(12% discount for additional nights.)
Tier 3 = 45,000 points for the first night, and 39,000 points for each additional night.
(13% discount for additional nights.)
Tier 4 = 67,500 points for the first night, and 60,000 points for each additional night.
(11% discount for additional nights.)
Tier 5 = 90,000 points for the first night, and 78,750 points for each additional night.
(12.5% discount for additional nights.)
Tier 6 = 135,000 points for the first night, and 121,500 points for each additional night.
(10% discount for additional nights.)

The lowest discount on points needed for additional free hotel nights is on the highest tier hotels. In contrast, Marriott Rewards offers their greatest free nights discount on top-tier, multi-night stays and it amount to about 40% savings in points for a 7-night stay in a Category 7 hotel using points.

Sample Hotels in each free night using points redemption tier:
Tier 1:
Knoxville, Tennessee – Country Inn and Suites, Knoxville East;
Park Inn, Milpitas, California;
Park Plaza, Toronto Airport;
Radisson Hotel and Suites, Guatemala City, Guatemala ( I stayed at this hotel during the LatinPass mileage run back in 2000 and the hotel guest services representative picked me up at the airport and rode the taxi back to the hotel with me. He was a young man who grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco. The hotel was large and seemed rather luxurious to me for the price I paid.)

Tier 2:
Park Inn, Mainz, Germany
Park Inn, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, South Africa

Tier 3:
Radisson Hotel, LAX, Los Angeles, California
Country Inn and Suites, Holyoke, Massachusetts

Tier 4:
Radisson SAS Seaside Hotel, Helsinki, Finland
Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Tier 5:
Radisson SAS Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Radisson Plaza Resort, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel, London, UK

Tier 6:
Radisson Lexington Hotel, New York, New York
Radisson Edwardian Mountbatten Hotel, London, UK
Regent Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France

GoldPoints Plus Elite Membership:

Silver elite for 15 nights or 10 stays in a calendar year.
Benefits include:
25% points bonus (25 points per $1 at Radisson, Park Plaza, and Regent)
Late check-out
Best available room in category booked
10% off weekend rates in Europe, Asia, and Middle East

Gold elite for 35 nights or 20 stays in a calendar year.
Benefits include:
50% points bonus (30 points per $1 at Radisson, Park Plaza, and Regent)
Early check-in and Late check-out
Best available room in category booked
10% off weekend rates in Europe, Asia, and Middle East
Flex night redemption at base award night rate.
Weekend Extend – get 2-for-1 nights or 4-for-2 nights on weekends

The flex night redemption at base award rate actually sounds like the member has the ability to use points essentially without blackouts. This is a huge benefit of top elite status with GoldPoints Plus. The qualification standard of 35 nights or 20 stays for top elite status is a lower standard than the other major upscale programs of Hyatt (25 stays/50 nights), Starwood (25 stays/50 nights), Hilton (28 stays/60 nights), IHG Priority Club (50 nights), and Marriott (75 nights).

Overall: GoldPoints Plus has made great strides in developing a traveler-friendly hotel loyalty program that rewards frequent guests with the opportunity for free hotel nights comparably with the other major hotel loyalty programs.

Current GoldPoints Promotion for 100,000 Bonus Points

Summer 2008 Radisson Hotels and Resorts Points To Go Promotion, June 1- August 31, 2008
Earn up to 100,000 GoldPoints this summer with stays at any of the five Carlson Hotel brands of Radisson, Regent, Park Plaza, Park Inn, and Country Inn and Suites.

5 nights = 5,000 bonus GoldPoints
10 nights = 10,000 bonus GoldPoints
15 nights = 25,000 bonus GoldPoints
20 nights = 50,000 bonus GoldPoints
25 nights = 100,000 bonus GoldPoints

Nights do not need to be consecutive. Nights, not stays, are counted for promotion.

By the numbers:
Park Inn, Milpitas, California room rate check for Sat., June 7 shows $65/night. Assume I could find rates throughout the summer in similar range at various hotels.
Extrapolate to 25 nights over summer = $1,625 for 25 hotel nights.

A frequent guest GoldPoints Plus member earns 15 points per $1 (Park Inn) for 15 nights and 18.75 points per $1 for 10 nights after earning Silver elite membership. (15 points x $65 x 15 nights + 18.75 points x $65 x 10 nights) = 14,625 + 12,187 = 26,812 points.

100,000 points bonus + 26, 812 points as a new member completing promotion over summer 2008 = 126,812 points and possibly Gold elite status if stays are planned to earn elite status along with bonus points for Points to Go promotion. Additional points (500 points per reservation) can be earned through online booking of hotel nights. Points earned are enough for 8 free nights at a Tier 1 hotel ($500-800 value at many locations) or for two free nights using points at a Category 4 hotel (potentially a $400 to $600 value at many locations).

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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