Finding a good email hotel rate offer is hard work. I want to rant about the crap offers that regularly come into my email inbox. Most of the hotel special rate offers I analyze are offers I never write about since they are such blatantly poor value for money. Today I will share the latest offers I found in my email inbox from the major hotel chains.
Marketing sales is a science I have not studied from a seller’s perspective. From a consumer perspective as a traveler who will stay in hotels several days over the next month I have to ask the question. Why do hotels regularly send me emails promoting poor value room rate special offers?
The email special rate offers are generally so bad that I tend to go no deeper than skim my hotel email. After many years of email offers from Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG – I still think I can count the good value offers I’ve received in the past five years in low double digit numbers. My general evaluation of emails from hotel chains is 95% of the time the rate is not a good value compared to what you would find by a simple search for better rates on the hotel’s website.
AAA rates are the first place to start for better value. Special offers on a specific hotel’s website will usually find a better special offer rate than the national or regional rate offers sent from the hotel corporate office to your email box.
I actually just pulled that 95% estimate out of the air. A systematic approach to hotel email analysis would have more consumer validation. So, here are recent package offers I have received from Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club, and Starwood in emails this past month.
Hotel Deals for Stupid People
Hilton Hotels Doubletree is first on the rate analysis block since their Doubletree promotion email for the Fall Getaway Package $50 Food & Beverage Credit put me on this rant today.
First – the fine print, that tiny font at the bottom of the promotion ad states this offer is only valid with a two-night stay.
Why not put that detail in the clearly visible print?
This promotion made me recall fond memories of a stay at the Doubletree Sonoma in Rohnert Park back in 2001. The hotel upgraded me to a suite with a Jacuzzi tub that took 90 minutes to fill. I paid a $75 room rate. And I was only Hilton HHonors Gold. I wouldn’t mind staying there again.
Rate check: Doubletree Sonoma in Rohnert Park
December 4-6, Friday-Sunday
Fall Weekend Getaway Rate = $154 per night (cancellation policy 24 hours before arrival)
Best Available Unrestricted rate (BAR) = $129 per night (cancellation policy 24 hours before arrival)
Internet nonrefundable rate = $74 per night.
Are you kidding me?
Doubletree is actually running a promotion for a $50 food and beverage credit on a two night stay that has a room rate exactly $50 more than the rate otherwise available for the same room type and same cancellation policy.
Actually the Fall Weekend Getaway rate is even slightly higher since the 14% hotel tax on the $50 Food & Beverage credit is higher than the 9% state sales tax if you just go to the restaurant and pay for the meal.
Better yet for me as a consumer is my option to book a nonrefundable rate and have $150 for dining and beverages anywhere I please over the weekend, including alcohol which is excluded from the $50 F&B credit in the special offer rate.
Hyatt’s Balance Spa Credit Package
Hyatt Spa Package includes breakfast daily, $100 spa credit and 5,000 Gold Passport points. Since Hilton has me thinking about Sonoma County I decided to check this offer for the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa. I checked hotel rates for Monday and Tuesday, November 16-18 since these tend to be the lower rate nights for Sonoma County hotels where Bay Area getaways drive rates up on weekends.
Hyatt’s Balance Spa Package costs $598 for 2 nights and I get $100 spa credit and 5,000 Gold Passport points.
$376 all-in is the Best Available Rate (BAR) for the same room with the same cancellation policy of 24 hours before arrival.
The spa package is an additional $222 for the weekend for a $100 spa credit, breakfast for two, and 5,000 points. Since the spa credit has a $100 value for a guest using the spa, the package differential is the extra $122 for 5,000 points and breakfast for the two mornings. Points are generally worth between 1.5 and 2.5 cents per point when redeeming for a free night meaning the 5,000 points have a potential value in most hotel redemption cases of $75 to $125.
Hyatt’s Balance spa package is a decent value compared to a comparable best available rate (BAR) since it essentially provides complimentary breakfast for the hotel stay considering the equivalent value of the Spa credit and bonus points in this one example.
$320 all in for the same room on the same weekend is for risk takers who are willing to accept the terms of a nonrefundable rate.
In this comparison the difference in rates at $280 less for a two night stay is nearly half-off if you just buy the room and forget the package concept of a $100 spa credit, free breakfast, and 5,000 points.
The question becomes, “Is breakfast for two mornings and 5,000 points worth $180?”
In my opinion the answer is no.
Priority Club Points & Cash for Flights
This was actually a Priority Club marketing person who read this blog and sent me an email to check out the Points & Cash option for flights.
I haven’t evaluated many flights yet.
Priority Club Points & Cash Flight Sample
Monterey, CA – Denver, CO
Fri, Oct 23- Mon, Oct 26
1 Adult Coach Class ticket
83,000 Priority Club Points
Fare on Kayak.com = $289
131,000 Priority Club points
American Airlines (1-stop)
174,000 Priority Club points
United Airlines nonstop
Priority Club Cash & Points rate reduces to $600.60 + 20,000 points.
United.com rate = $590.00 all-in
Redemption rate for Priority Club points is $3.39 per 1,000 points just using points for a United Airlines nonstop flight. Only a stupid person would pay use Priority Club for this ticket and spend 20,000 points + $10 more than a ticket purchased directly from United Airlines.
I like to get a minimum of $10.00 per 1,000 points with my redemptions. My last Priority Club free night redemption was worth over $20 per 1,000 points when I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express on a 5,000 points Points Break free night.
Delta Airlines is a $289 fare or 83,000 PC points. The redemption value for the Priority Club member is only $3.48 per 1,000 Priority Club points. This is a poor use of points. You can easily get a redemption value of $15 per 1,000 Priority Club points using your points for hotel redemptions by waiting for better opportunities to spend your points.
Starwood Hotels sent a W Hotels 40% discount offer using promotion code “Daily21”. I checked Scottsdale and the code wasn’t valid for a 4-night stay I tried using November dates.
$203 per night was the lowest rate I saw for the four nights. That is a nonrefundable, no changes rate. AAA quickly lowered the rate to $179 per night. In fact the next higher category room was only $202, one dollar less than the nonrefundable discount rate. And I didn’t even delve into the multi-night discount codes to look for free night rates which would likely take at least another $100 to $200 off a 4-night stay.
Marriott Free Night in the Caribbean or Mexico
Sep 7-Dec 12, 2009 Marriott Sand Dollars package (promotion code M11)
-Free night (stay requirements vary by resort)
-Breakfast for two daily
-$100 resort credit per stay
First, I checked Aruba and I didn’t see any information regarding the minimum stay requirement since I couldn’t find this special rate using the link from the email.
I did find a similar rate on the Marriott Aruba special offers page.
Dates checked: Sun, Nov 22 – Fri, Nov 27
Special rate “S29” with free night, breakfast, and $100 per stay resort credit
Lowest S29 special offer rate: $289 per night. With free night this would mean pay 4 nights = $1,156 (before tax).
AAA rate for same room type is $145 per night. 5 nights = $725.
The Free Night + $100 Credit Rate is $431 more (before tax) for a $100 credit and five days of breakfast. $331 is some expensive breakfast tabs over 5 days.
My preference is to book the ocean view room at $220 per night for my stay. $1,100 for five nights. Checking out the ocean view while staying at a resort hotel in Aruba holds a lot more value to me than free breakfast with the S29 rate.
The best hotel email in my inbox lately is from Accor A-Club. I registered Kelley as a new member a couple of weeks ago and she received a 2,000 points registration bonus. Last week Accor A-Club sent Kelley a Happy Birthday email with another 500 points birthday gift. After earning 2,500 loyalty points in September 2009, Kelley is now an A-Club Silver elite member eligible for a 50% elite bonus on her Accor hotel stays.
Happy Birthday from your A|Club team!
This is the ideal opportunity for us to thank you for your loyalty by offering you a birthday bonus of 500 A|Club points !
Maybe you’ll be able to use this exceptional bonus to order an A|Club rewards gift voucher to pay for all or part of your next stay at one of the 2,000 Accor hotels participating in the program, or to convert your points into airline miles to get your free ticket and head off to your dream destination even sooner!
To earn even more points, take advantage of the many promotional A|Club offers listed on
See you soon on www.a-club.com and at the 2,000 participating Accor hotels around the world!
Your A|Club team
Now that is an email with value.