The Choice Privileges commercial on TV caught my attention. The details tell the real story.
The Advertised Offer: Stay 3 nights at the same hotel with arrival between August 21 and November 19. Earn enough points to redeem for a free night at over 1,500 Choice Hotels. (Promotion link)
The limitations of this offer: The fine print states points will be added to your account after a qualifying 3-night or longer stay to reach the 8,000 point reward level. There are 1,500 hotels with reward nights at the 8,000 points level.
Only one award will be earned per hotel stay. In other words, a 6-night stay will only earn 8,000 points.
The 8,000 points bonus may be earned multiple times for separate eligible stays during the promotion period.
Choice Hotels is the second largest global hotel chain by number of hotels with about 5,900 hotels. This promotion allows a Choice Privileges member to earn sufficient points for a free night in the bottom 25% of properties in the hotel chain after staying at least three nights in a Choice brand hotel.
Choice Hotel brands in order by number of hotels are Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Econolodge, Comfort Suites, Clarion, Sleep Inn, Rodeway Inn, Suburban, MainStay Suites, Ascend Collection, and Cambria Suites.
Loyalty Traveler analysis:
Points are normally earned at the rate of 10 points per $1 in hotel spending for most Choice brands. Only 5 points per $1 are earned for MainStay Suites, Suburban, Rodeway Inn, or EconoLodge.
Last month Loyalty Traveler posted a profile of the Choice Hotels chain. This post also referenced Choice Privileges summer promotion that ended last month for 14,000 points with 3 hotel stays. The previous Choice Privileges promotion allowed a member to earn 14,000 points with just 3 one-night separate hotel stays. The current offer may be easier to earn for some members, but is less valuable.
Comfort Inn had an average daily rate of $74 in the US according to 2009 first quarter financial data for Choice Hotels.
Assume a 3 night stay is $225 at a Comfort Inn. This stay would regularly earn 2,250 Choice Privileges points. The current promotion will result in an additional 5,750 points being added to your account to total 8,000 points for the stay.
Assume a 3-night stay at a Suburban brand with an average daily rate of $41. A 3-night stay would regularly earn just 615 points. This promotion adds 7,385 points to your account. That is one hefty bonus opportunity.
This looks to be a good offer on the surface.
The question is what can you do with 8,000 points?
The Choice Privileges promotion advertisement states 8,000 points can be used for a free night at over 1,500 hotels. What the ad does not mention is the points required for a Choice Privileges free night is variable depending on the season.
Example: Econolodge Inn & Suites, Novato, California (hotel link)
The Econolodge Novato is one of the 1,500 Choice hotels available for 8,000 points, however, a free night is only available for 8,000 points from September 16 to November 30. A free night from now through September 15 and from December 1 to January 31, 2010 will cost 10,000 points.
8,000 points is a bonus, albeit a severely limited bonus in a program where a free night will cost between 6,000 and 35,000 points (and up to 75,000 in Australia).
You can only book a free night up to 30 days in advance of your stay without being an elite Choice Privileges member.
This is a 2-key hotel loyalty promotion. Keep Choice Privileges in mind if you need a 3-night hotel stay and the property is an acceptable choice for your hotel stay.
1058 Munras Avenue
Jul 1, 2009 – Sep 15, 2009: 20,000 points
Sep 16, 2009 – Nov 30, 2009 16,000 points
Dec 1, 2009 – Jan 31, 2010: 10,000 points