I spent a couple of years wondering if writing about travel loyalty programs would negatively influence programs and ruin the benefits. A few hundred travelers getting an incredible deal typically did not spread far in the travel community.
Between 1999 and 2004 there were opportunities every year to earn 500,000 or more frequent flyer miles for $2,000 to $4,000 and generally the expense for earning so much travel credit was simply paying to travel. FlyerTalk was a much smaller community at one time. The loyalty programs have become much more sophisticated at balancing loyalty promotion giveaways with revenue benefits.
Today social networks over the web connect millions of people on common threads. Tens of thousands moving en masse for a travel bargain can be devastating. Consider the Leading Hotels of the World debacle last October. Perhaps the coming change to Wyndham Rewards Best Rate Guarantee is a case of public overexposure too concentrated on one type of great travel deal.
Wyndham Rewards has an incredible Best Rate Guarantee policy that will be changing April 1, 2009.
Free hotel rooms are a bargain traveler’s dream deal. The guys at BestRateGuarantee.blogspot.com may have put themselves out of their current blog business. The basic purpose of the site is a listing of Wyndham Rewards hotels with a lower rate on a third party travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, and many others.
Best Rate Guarantee with Wyndham Rewards means you receive one hotel night free if the lower rate is verified to exist. From April 1 there will no longer be free rooms awarded as a Best Rate Guarantee benefit.
David & Dave of the Best Rate Guarantee blog have posted a statement on February 26 regarding the Wyndham BRG changes. They allude to recession pressures on Wyndham forcing a policy change. Sure, there is recession pressure throughout the hotel industry, but a website alerting people to book hotel rooms for free is bound to have a devastating impact on revenue.
I posted comments one time to the BRG blog when a Monterey Super 8 property came up on the blog. I questioned the location of the Super 8 since I had just photographed every motel on Fremont Street a couple of days before and there was not a Super 8 among the 16 hotels. I drove to the hotel and spoke with the management that morning. They had in fact changed to a Super 8 and the banner was in the office being readied to drape over the former motel name sign outside.
Vagabond Motel, Fremont Street, Monterey 2008 (currently a Super 8 motel)
I drove away from that newly branded Super 8 thinking how that family in the hotel office was being impacted by free room giveaways. They may also have been affected by my poor rating of the hotel in my survey of Monterey hotels. I am glad the motel name changed to a Super 8 since its former name, Vagabond Motel created confusion with a similarly named, Vagabond House Inn located on a lush lot in Carmel. I often wondered how many guests thought they booked a lovely Carmel inn and found themselves sleeping in a motel on Fremont Street by a porn shop.
Vagabond House Inn, Carmel
Wyndham’s new policy will be a 10% reduction of the lower competing price. I think additional points as another BRG incentive would be good to promote hotel loyalty and brand awareness.
The budget hotel market segment is faring better in holding room rates than many other market segments in this deflationary economy. The 10% BRG is a start, but points would have more leverage value and provide customer loyalty awareness for the brands in Wyndham. I study hotels all the time and I still have difficulty differentiating the brands between Wyndham Rewards and Choice Privileges.
The hotel brand members of Wyndham Rewards followed by 2008 average room rate:
1. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, $116.61
2. Wingate by Wyndham, $91.84
3. Ramada Worldwide, $79.69
4. Travelodge, $67.68
5. Baymont Inns and Suites, $65.66
6. Amerihost, $63.38
7. Howard Johnson, $63.11
8. Days Inn, $61.99
9. Super 8, $56.78
10. Knights Inn $40.88
(Hotel brands are ordered by average daily room rate for first quarter 2008 which correlates with relative market segment for hotel brand).
The low average room rate for many of these hotel brands is why I feel Wyndham would be well served by issuing bonus loyalty points with the BRG claim. Saving $4.09 on a Knights Inn stay may not be sufficient incentive for someone to bother with a BRG claim.
Then again, after 1,000 BRG hotel posts by David and Dave in the past year, perhaps Wyndham Rewards wants to eliminate guest incentive for best rate guarantee claims.