Apr272009

Starwood v. IHG Free Nights – Are your qualifying reservations in order?

If you are wondering why hotel loyalty programs like IHG Priority Club and Starwood Preferred Guest are giving away free room nights I think the basic answer can be seen in the hotel industry data.  STR measured average hotel occupancy across the USA for March 2009 at just over 55% compared to 62.5% in March 2008.

Hotels are sitting half empty on average, and some hotels are far less than half full on certain nights. Hotels need bodies, hence free night promotions. Pay and stay nights now to earn future free nights and spend your free nights over this summer.

Advantages of Priority Club Free Nights promotion over SPG

1.    No need to hotel hop.  A single two night stay at one hotel will earn a free night with Priority Club. A single 8-night stay at one hotel will earn 4 free nights.  SPG’s promotion is based on hotel stays and not hotel nights. A free night with the Starwood promotion requires at least one night at two different hotels or two nonconsecutive nights at a single hotel to earn a free night.

2.    Free night can be used any day of the week with Priority Club. SPG limits free night redemption to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday weekend nights.

3.    Priority Club Redemption period is from July 3 through December 26, 2009. SPG free nights must be redeemed by Sep 27, 2009.

Advantages of SPG Free Nights promotion

1.    Member earns normal SPG points for hotel stays during promotion. Priority Club suspends normal points earning for duration of promotion through July 3 if member registers for Free Nights promotion. A Priority Club member has the choice to register for an alternate promotion for Double Points or Miles.

2.    SPG promotion for earning free nights lasts longer. SPG stays from May 1 through July 31st count towards free nights. Priority Club paid nights from May 4 through July 3 earn up to 4 free nights.

3.    SPG free nights appear in account within three days of qualifying stay and may be redeemed throughout the promotional period through September 27. Priority Club members may start making reservations around May 22, but free nights can’t be used until July 3.

4.    Starwood Free nights earned are unlimited (there is actually a technical limit of 46 free nights that can be earned within the free night qualifying period and the member would need to be redeeming free nights while earning free nights to actually use them all since redemption is limited to three weekend nights per week).  A Priority Club member may earn only 4 free nights.

 

InterContinental Hotels Group Free Nights Promotion link: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/pc/1/en/c/10/content/dec/teaser/pc/0/en/lp/promolp/screaming/promo.html?_promoCode=9663

 

Starwood Hotels Free Night Promotion link: https://www.spgpromos.com/weekends/index.cfm

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I have spent some time this past week making spreadsheets to track hotel rates for the Starwood Preferred Guest free nights promotion starting Friday May 1.

I am following hotel rates throughout California. The good news is that generally the lowest hotel rates are in my part of the state around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The shock to me was the prices of Holiday Inn Express hotels for the IHG free nights promotion running concurrently with Starwood’s free night promotion.  I would love a 4-night stay at a good InterContinental Hotel in Europe later this year. 

So the shock was seeing most Holiday Inn Express hotels with rates from $100 to $140 per night. I can stay at the InterContinental San Francisco for the same price as most HI Express hotels I checked in California in little gas station villages along the freeway exits of Interstate-5.

I plan to earn my first Starwood free night by the end of this week. I lined up two Best Rate Guarantee hotel claims for next weekend. The hotel room rates actually come out to be the same price I would have paid if I booked the rooms last week on StarwoodHotels.com, but Starwood raised their rates. Some online travel agencies did not.

So in addition to the low rate I will earn an extra 4,000 Starpoints for my first two stays in this free night promotion.  Wouldn’t it be something special to book 20 Best Rate Guarantee stays and earn 40,000 bonus Starpoints on top of the 10 free nights?

My trend analysis shows the hotel rates in San Francisco went up on average $10 to $30 per night for the lowest priced popular hotels over the past week.  Here are some changes I saw in room rates over just the past six days. I am not putting dates, but these are room rate changes I’ve documented for a specific Starwood hotel on a specific date in May.

·         The Palace Hotel, San Francisco rate of $118 went up to $169.

·         Westin Market Street, San Francisco, $99 rate 4-21 went up to $139 on 4-25

·         Le Meridien San Francisco, $139 went up to $159

·         Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, $125 went up to $179.

·         Sheraton Petaluma, $109 went up to $129.

·         Sheraton Palo Alto, $199 up to $239.

 

Loyalty Traveler post on IC Hotels Group free night promotion

Loyalty Traveler post on Starwood Preferred Guest free night promotion

 

 

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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