One of the most frightening events a hotel guest can experience is a fire alarm waking you from a deep sleep. From what I overheard from guests and later confirmed by a hotel employee is the fire alarm sounding at Country Inn & Suites West Valley City, Utah has been a regular occurrence this past week.

Read More…

EyeforTravel.com published an article yesterday, Amazon’s online travel march continues and enviable lessons in how to do it from Japan, on the potential for Amazon.com to expand into the online hotel booking market with a proposition hotels may favor over Expedia and Priceline. Web buzz suggests Amazon could have a major impact in the online hotel booking space by taking commissions of 15% or less compared to 25% to 30% common for Expedia and Priceline sites. From the consumer viewpoint, Amazon Prime customers, as a select group of 20 million, could be offered deeper hotel rate discounts than available publicly on Expedia and Priceline sites.

Recent e-commerce rulings in the UK over hotel rate price-fixing by IHG and online travel agencies allows deeper online discounts for ‘fenced-groups’, customer groups that require membership. Membership is how sites like TravelPony.com can offer deeper discounts than major online travel agencies at chain brand hotels without opening the door to hotel chain best rate guarantee claims. AAA and AARP are examples of fenced groups, generally offering lower room rates than best available rates (BAR). Hotel best rate guarantee claims require the lower rate to be publicly available for an eligible claim.

Priceline Group is the largest market cap publicly traded travel company in the world at $56.06 billion according to a January 7, 2015 ranking of the big travel players by Skift.com.

Priceline Group is the parent company of booking.com, the world leader in accommodations booking with over 4 million rooms booked each week. Priceline also owns Kayak.com, the meta-search site and Agoda.com, a leading online hotel booking site in Asia.

Expedia Inc. at $10.56 billion market cap does not even rank in the top 15 largest travel companies as ranked by market cap. Expedia is the parent company for Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Trivago.com and Venere.com (Europe).

The EyeforTravel article points to Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten as a model for Amazon. Rakuten Travel operates an online hotel booking service in Japan that is expanding throughout Asia.

As online booking sites for hotel reservations expand into last minute booking sites and membership sites with deeper discounts than online travel site publicly available rates, the consumer might be the ultimate winner.

Related Loyalty Traveler articles

Major Chain and OTA Hotel Price-Fixing lawsuit in USA (Dec 18, 2013)

UK ruling may impact hotel chain BRG claims (August 9, 2013)

Southwest Airlines 3 day fare sale launched today. This fare sale allows travel from February 3 to June 3, 2015.

  • 14-day advance purchase required.
  • Purchase from January 20 through January 22, 2015, 11:59 p.m. for the respective time zone of the originating city.
  • Travel February 3 through June 3, 2015. Travel to/from San Juan, Puerto Rico valid February 3 through March 4 and April 7 through May 20, 2015.
  • Travel is valid only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Travel to/from Florida or Nevada is valid only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Fares are valid on nonstop service only.
  • Displayed prices include all U.S. and international government taxes and fees.

Southwest 3-day sale-Jan 2015

United Mileage Plus Buy 2015 Status Promotion is a targeted offer many members, including me, received this past week. The changes in Mileage Plus this year to require a spend component kept me from pursuing Silver elite with 25,000 miles. The miles were not the problem. I could have flown United Airlines to Belfast, Northern Ireland in November 2014 and surpassed 34,000 PQM. I still would have been $700 short on the PQD spend component applied to US residents for Mileage Plus Premier Silver elite.

You reach MileagePlus® Premier® status by earning the required number of Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or Premier qualifying segments (PQS). If you live in the United States, you also have to meet a minimum annual spending level, which is tracked with Premier qualifying dollars (PQD).

You earn PQM, PQS and PQD by flying United, United Express®, Copa Airlines and select airline partners.

I flew American Airlines to Dublin, Ireland instead in November.

Your current MileagePlus member details:

  • Total PQM balance at the end of 2014: 23,221
  • Total PQS balance at the end of 2014: 16
  • Total PQD balance at the end of 2014: $1,254.00

Qualified level for 2015: Member

United Mileage Plus 2015 Elite Qualification Requirements

United 2015 elite requirements

No problem. United Mileage Plus will sell me Silver elite for 2015.

For $949.

United 2015 Silver elite purchase price

United Mileage Plus has weeded out budget flyers like me from their elite ranks. Even if I were to buy up to Silver elite for 2015, the spend component increases 20% this year to qualify for 2016 status at $3,000 and 25,000 miles for Premier Silver elite qualification. The PQD spend requirement increases 20% for all four levels of Mileage Plus Premier elite.

United 2016 elite requirements

Chasing status is a costly pursuit for a budget traveler these days with United Mileage Plus and Delta SkyMiles.

FlyerTalk has a thread showing different offers targeted United Mileage Plus members received showing the cost to buy up with this promotion.

Marriott eBreaks January 22-25 offer hotel rate discounts for stays at select Marriott brand hotels in the USA and Canada this Thursday through Sunday nights.

Alabama

Arkansas

Colorado

Connecticut

Florida

Georgia

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Massachusetts

Michigan

Montana

New Hampshire

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

South Carolina

Texas

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Outside of U.S.

Canada

  • Rates are per night. Thursday requires a Friday night stay. Sunday requires a Saturday night stay.
  • Rates are valid for dates specified in email at advertised hotels only.
  • eBreaks rates are exclusive to customers who subscribe to the eBreaks program. Therefore, these rates do not qualify for Marriott’s Look No further Best Rates Guarantee.
  • A limited number of rooms are available and will be sold on a first-come, first served basis.
  • Advance bookings are required and must be guaranteed with a credit card.
  • Rates are offered Thursday through Sunday Some hotels only offer eBreaks rates Friday- Sunday. These hotels indicated with an asterisk ( * ) next to rates.
  • Rates are standard room, per night and based on single are double occupancy.
  • Rates are non-commissionable and not include taxes, fees, or other costs or gratuities.
  • Rates cannot be used in conjunction with other offers and/ or discounts.
  • Does not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms.
  • Canadian cities are quoted in Canadian dollars and US cites are quoted in US dollars. All other destinations are quoted in currency listed.
  • Rates are eligible for Marriott Rewards Points and miles credit. Join Marriott Rewards for Free »

Temple Square is the site of Salt Lake Temple, where Brigham Young through divine inspiration designated the construction of a temple four days after arriving at Salt Lake from Nauvoo, Illinois. Salt Lake Temple is a beautiful piece of architecture built by Mormon pioneers over 40 years from 1853 and 1893.

Salt Lake Temple

Salt Lake Temple

Arriving at Temple Square on a Sunday morning was kind of special as church let out and crowds of worshipers exited the Tabernacle dressed in their Sunday finest clothes. Read More…

Wyndham Hotels 72 Hour sale January 19-22, 2015 offers up to 40% off rates for 25 Wyndham and Wyndham Garden brand hotels. There are some good Wyndham brand hotel rates with this offer.

72 Hour Sale rates are prepaid and nonrefundable.

The real deal here might be no defined stay dates with this offer. I checked rates for Wyndham hotels in July 2015 and the 25% discount applied. Remember though, these sale rates are prepaid and nonrefundable.

Wyndham 72 hour sale

Read More…

Today I will fly from San Francisco to Salt Lake City on a $49 one-way Alaska Airlines flight and check into a Club Carlson hotel for three nights to earn my first 30,000 bonus points. Actually, 40,000 bonus points since I registered for the Club Carlson promotion by January 12.

I’ll fly home mid-week for two days and next week I will repeat the trip.

Alaska Airlines economy flights, Club Carlson midscale hotel and Salt Lake City domestic tranquility is the kind of non-aspirational travel experience that does not require a year of savings or thousands of dollars in credit card manufactured spend. I planned and purchased these Salt Lake City trips in the past two weeks.

If all goes as planned, I will earn a free ticket on Alaska Airlines I can use to fly to Vancouver, Canada or Bozeman, Montana for a Yellowstone National park trip in March or April.

Loyalty Traveler – Alaska Airlines Ski the West Fly 2, Get 1 for tax only CA, OR, WA residents (Nov 6, 2014)

Loyalty Traveler – Alaska Airlines Fly 2, get 1 free deal for Bozeman and Yellowstone

Originally, I thought I would fly to Montana twice and check out Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks in winter. Then, the expense did not seem like that great a value considering all the low fares to Europe and Asia the past couple months.

There was an Alaska Airlines fare sale two weeks ago. I booked two round trip tickets to Salt Lake City for $98 each. I realized I could fly this month and knock out the Ski the West offer with two round trips for $196 and earn a free ticket. Next week is the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City and Park City.

Several times I have driven through Salt Lake City on road trips to and from Denver, Colorado. Never took any time to tour the city.

near SLC

Now I will have several days to hang out and visit museums and sites and maybe see a film and try some 3.2% beer. I’m sure I will have something to say about the Utah alcohol laws once I figure out the scene.

Club Carlson Booster

Club Carlson announced their 2015 Q1 promotion two days after I purchased my Salt Lake City tickets on Alaska Airlines. Earn 30,000 bonus points for a 3-night stay or 15,000 bonus points for a 2-night stay from January 12 – March 29, 2015.

Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson Jan 12 to March 29, 2015 stays earn 15K for 2 nights, 30K for 3 nights (Jan 5, 2015).

Then, Club Carlson offered a 3-day sale this week for 25% off hotel rates in January. I rebooked my Salt Lake City hotel stays to earn bonus points. Two 3-night stays in Salt Lake City will cost under $500 and earn about 87,000 points. Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson 3-day sale 25% off January stays.

2015 travel is reminiscent of the old days when I frequently traveled and earned miles and points as a rebate that offers future travel value equivalent or exceeding the cost of the trips to earn miles and points.

$196 spent for two Alaska Airlines round trip flights to Salt Lake City earns a free ticket to use by April 30 for travel to some place like Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Kalispell or Bozeman, Montana or Vancouver, British Columbia.

$500 spent on six hotel nights earns 87,000 Club Carlson points which is sufficient for four nights in London, where hotel rates are typically $250 per night or more. I am certain I will get more than $1,000 in redemption value for the points at Radisson Blu hotels in Europe.

One of the side benefits of traveling to Salt Lake City was the opportunity to schedule a Global Entry appointment at Salt Lake City Airport when the next available date at SFO was late March.

Who cares about Salt Lake City?

Based on past reader statistics, I will likely see a drop in readership as I immerse myself in the Salt Lake City experience. That really does not concern me if many readers don’t care to read about Salt Lake City. The flights and hotels are a big part of the travel experience, but there is probably not much insight to share on a 90-minute economy class flight or a midscale standard hotel room.

For me, the intense feelings of exploring my surroundings in some place new is the reason I enjoy travel and seek out travel opportunities like flying to Salt Lake City for a few days. I am sure I will be motivated to write articles about Salt Lake City, even if only for myself and a small subset of readers.

Discovery is my primary purpose for travel. Miles and points are simply my means to travel more frequently and affordably.

Marriott Rewards is kind of like a Hotel Loyalty Scouts program with badges, if you have the desire to adorn your Marriott Rewards profile with a sash of personal achievements and milestones of your hotel loyalty.

Marriott Rewards started a badge game last August to confer bragging rights to members who opt in to receive badges.  Beyond simple adornment, some of the Marriott Rewards badges earn points. Don’t get excited about the points. You might earn 1,000 extra points after thousands of dollars in hotel stays.

Ready to play? You simply need to opt in on your Marriott Rewards account.

A word of warning to head off your question with a disappointing answer…

Your past Marriott Rewards activity does not count. Badge earning requirements start only after you have opted in for the game.

Marriott Rewards badges

Member level badge – there is a badge to match your Marriott Rewards elite level as seen in the screenshot above. No points earned for this badge.

Brand Loyalist – Earn 25 points and a brand badge after two stays at a brand.

Marriott Rewards brand badges-1

  1. Ritz-Carlton
  2. JW Marriott
  3. Edition
  4. Autograph Collection
  5. Renaissance Hotels
  6. AC Hotels
  7. Marriott
  8. Courtyard
  9. SpringHill Suites
  10. Fairfield Inn
  11. Residence Inn
  12. TownePlace Suites
  13. Gaylord Hotels
  14. Marriott Vacation Club

There are no badges for Marriott Executive Apartments or Protea Hotels, the African hotel chain Marriott acquired last year. Or Moxy, the new millennial focused brand. Then, there is the luxury brand Bulgari, which does not even participate in Marriott Rewards.

Marriott Brand Explorer Badges

Marriott Rewards brand badges

  • Stay at 5 different Marriott hotel brands and earn 5-brand explorer badge and 50 points.
  • 10-brand explorer badge earns 75 points.
  • 14-brand explorer badge earns 250 points.

Marriott Road Warrior Badges

Marriott Rewards explorer badges

  • Stay 100 nights at Marriott hotel brands and earn 100 night badge  and 25 points.
  • Stay 500 nights and earn 500 night badge and 125 points.
  • Stay 1000 nights and earn 1000 night badge and 250 points.

Social Maven Badges

  • Participate in Plus Points and earn a social badge.
  • Donate to IFRC or Hotels for Heroes and earn a Good Citizen Badge and 25 points.
  • Refer a Friend and earn the Refer a Friend Badge.

Marriott Badges

Marriott Rewards Insiders has a thread on the Badge game. The primary sentiment expressed is disappointment that past Marriott Rewards activity does not count.

From January 12 through January 31, 2015, you can participate in Hilton Days of Play Facebook giveaway. Each day there will be a travel related question posted on Facebook. Leave a comment to the question on Facebook to enter the giveaway. There is a limit of one entry per day per email address.

Eligible entries are accepted through 11:59pm ET on the day the question is posted. Contest is only open to US residents.

Hilton HHonors Days of Play

January 16 Hilton HHonors question and prize:

Work hard, PLAY hard. From family to your favorite song, what motivates YOU to get out of bed each morning? Share for the chance to win a Queen Mattress Set from Serta®.

Hilton HHonors Days of Play Rules.

Hilton Days of Play Prizes

PRIZES/ODDS:    The following prize(s) is/are available:

  • 12 prizes – Serta® Queen Mattress Set $1,300 US
  • 2 prizes – Trip to the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards® includes two (2) tickets to the GRAMMY Awards® on February 8, 2015 and the Official GRAMMY Celebration® After-Party and two (2) Delta Flight Vouchers for 26k skymiles. $3,540 US
  • 3 prizes – Weekend Getaway includes a three (3) night stay at any Hilton Hotel and Resort property worldwide $660 US
  • 8 prizes Bocca Terry Robe $80 US
  • 11 prizes –  Dell Tablets: Venue 8 Pro 5000 Series (32GB) $250 US
  • 10 prizes – 100,000 HHonors Points $1,000 US
  • 1 prize – Hawaiian Getaway includes two (2) round-trip airline tickets provided by Hawaiian airlines, a five (5) night stay at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and a USD$500 Amex gift card $2,800 US
  • 4 prizes – Conrad spa gift basket $200 US
  • 100 prizes – $25 iTunes® gift card $25 US
  • 5 prizes – $200 Scorebig gift card $200 US
  • 1 prize – iPod® mini & Bose® soundlink $420 US
  • 300 prizes – Concert Cash $125 US
  • 2 prizes – Delta Flight Vouchers includes two (2) 25k skymiles $1,000 US
  • 1 prize – American Airline Vouchers includes two (2) 50k skymiles $1,800 US

Total Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): USD$80,450

Good luck.

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