Friends & Family rates are a common topic of discussion in 2009. These rates are something that I don’t recall being offered to the general public in the past. This year these rates have been offered repeatedly and discussed on FlyerTalk threads by InterContinental Hotels Group (Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, HI Express); Fairmont Hotels; Starwood Hotels, Carlson Hotels, and other chains. Basically, you’ve got friends in the hotel industry you may not know, but they are willing to help you score a cheaper room. Times are hard for the hotel industry and they are offering a friendly discount to loyalty travelers.
The main caveat is these rates generally do not earn loyalty credit, although SPG does currently have a deal for some Starwood Arizona hotels where the Friends & Family rate earns loyalty credit.
One of the big advantages of Friends & Family rates is the ability to get a suite at a good discount or simply a cheap room at a specific hotel for about the same price as Priceline bidding for an undisclosed hotel in many locations.
Enjoy a Friends & Family rate, courtesy of Steve Sickel, Senior VP of Marketing for the 4,300 properties of InterContinental Hotels Group. Since February 2009, IHG has offered the Friends & Family rate and Steve Sickel can be your friend too.
Here is Steve Sickel’s Friends & Family page that has been used by members of FlyerTalk for most of the past year. This page was introduced on BoardingArea.com by Randy Petersen of WebFlyer last March with an original booking deadline of May 31, however, this deadline has been repeatedly extended and just recently the December 31, 2009 deadline was removed. Bookings can be made up to one year ahead of your stay.
Friends & Family rates are here now, but will likely go away sometime in 2010 as the hotel economy improves. Loyalty membership will continue to provide benefits you can use to your hotel stay advantage, possibly for even better value than you get with the low Friends & Family hotel rates. You may find that you like IHG hotels and the Priority Club and/or Ambassador Club programs enough to prefer paying regular room rates and earn points and miles with your stays. I do, but I always like the option of a cheap room.
Sample Friends & Family rate savings for Tuesday, January 5, 2010:
InterContinental Hotel San Francisco
(Friends & Family provides about 33% discount off Best Available Rate compared to only 5% AAA discount (AAA rates earn loyalty points and credit) or 15% discount using Entertainment membership rate (no loyalty points or credit earned).
King Bed Deluxe $134.33, (BAR = $199; AAA rate = $189.05; Entertainment Card = $169.15)
1 King Bed Executive $147.83 (BAR = $219; AAA rate = $208.05; Entertainment Card =$186.15)
1King Club IC $174.83 (BAR= $259; AAA rate = $246.05; Entertainment Card = $220.15)
King Junior Suite $161.33 (BAR $239; AAA rate = $227.05; Entertainment Card =$203.15)
King One Bedroom Suite $506.25 (BAR $750; AAA rate = $712.50; Entertainment Card = $637.50)
King Bay Suite $675 (BAR $1,000; AAA rate = $950; Entertainment Card = $850)