Radisson Big Night Giveaway II repeats a similar PR fiasco as Radisson Big Night Giveaway last November. Hotel loyalty programs and their PR reps want to create social media buzz about their offers prior to revealing the promotion’s full “official” details. Without full disclosure and transparency the buzz often stings.
Update May 19, 12 noon California time: Club Carlson has decided to change the terms of the Radisson, Country Inn and Park Inn promotions to allow reservations booked prior to May 15 for stays within the respective promotion periods to count for the bonus points. There were communications errors made last week regarding this term of the promotion and Club Carlson has rectified the error by changing the promotion terms to count existing reservations. This is a fine resolution to the issue. Thanks Club Carlson.
Let me say that over the past three years I have personally met and talked to dozens, if not hundreds of staff and management with the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. This seems to me to be a good company with a positive social image and conscience while operating a thriving hotel chain. The Carlson Rezidor folks have invited me to attend their Global Summit meetings the past three years and this has really helped advance my knowledge of the hotel industry.
Bottom line though is they are a corporate business seeking to maximize customer profit on hotel stays and I am a consumer analyst working social media for travelers to minimize consumer spending for hotel stays.
My positive social media buzz on the Club Carlson promotions:
Club Carlson currently offers three of the best hotel loyalty promotions we will likely see for 2012 taking place for the next two months.
- Radisson and Radisson Blu is launching the Radisson Big Night Giveaway on May 15, where the first 100,000 people to register and stay at least one night at any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel or resort worldwide between May 15 and July 15, 2012, will earn 50,000 bonus Gold Points – enough points for a free stay at any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel or resort worldwide. After the 100,000 spots are filled, guests who register for the promotion will earn 15,000 bonus Gold Points after completing a one-night stay at any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel or resort by July 15, 2012. Beginning on May 15, travelers can register at RadissonBigNightGiveaway.com. In addition, travelers who sign up for the Radisson Big Night Giveaway will have free Wi-Fi access for the duration of their airport visit at Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports; New York’s JFK airport and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport.
- Country Inns & Suites By Carlsonalso kicks off its SO GO! (Stay One, Get One) promotion on May 15, offering the first 35,000 guests to register and stay at least one night at any Country Inns & Suites hotel, through July 15, 2012, 44,000 bonus Gold Points – enough points for a one-night stay at any Country Inns & Suites property. After the 35,000 spots are filled, guests who register for the promotion and complete a one-night stay at any Country Inns & Suites hotel by July 15, 2012, will earn 15,000 bonus Gold Points, enough for a free night at select hotels. Beginning on May 15, travelers can register at SOGOCountry.com
- Park Inn by Radisson will launch the 1+1 Stay One, Get One offer a week later on May 22. The first 20,000 guests to register and stay at least one night at any Park Inn by Radisson hotel, from May 22 through July 22, 2012, will earn 44,000 bonus Gold Points – enough points for a one-night stay at any Park Inn by Radisson hotel. Once the 20,000 spots are filled, guests who register for the promotion and complete a one-night stay at any Park Inn by Radisson hotel by July 22, 2012, will earn 15,000 bonus Gold Points, enough for a free night at select hotels.Travelers can register at ParkInnOnePlusOne.com
Now for the Social Media Stinger
This blog post is my stinger for smacking Loyalty Traveler and other Club Carlson members upside the head with inaccurate information last week.
I was contacted by a Club Carlson PR representative on May 9 with Club Carlson promotion details I had not previously seen anywhere on the web. And I was asked if if I would like to interview Heather Passe, VP Marketing, Loyalty and E-commerce for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group to have any promotion questions I wanted answered prior to the May 15 release.
In my head I thought that Heather Passe has better things to do than block out her time to answer my questions directly, so I just sent two questions I wanted answered regarding the loyalty promotion to the Club Carlson PR representative.
Here are the email responses I received on May 10 from the Club Carlson PR representative:
1. Points + Cash award nights do qualify for this promotion because the cash portion is point-eligible
2. Stays booked prior to the promotion launch are eligible as long as the stay lands within the promotion window. Member just needs to register for the promotion before check-out.
On May 10 I wrote this Loyalty Traveler post with what I assumed was accurate and company-provided information that had not previously been published on the three Club Carlson promotions.
Club Carlson gave this Loyalty Traveler a head blow May 15
I was shocked to see the official Club Carlson Radisson Big Night Giveaway promotion terms when released with the promotion launch May 15 at 12:01am Central time.
The Big Night Giveaway Promotion (“Promotion”) is available only to Club CarlsonSM members.
Promotion is not valid on existing reservationsand is subject to availability.
To be eligible for the Promotion, members must register online for the Promotion at http://www.radissonbignightgiveaway.com/ (“Promotion Registration”), provide their Club Carlson member number at the time of reservation or check-in of the Qualifying Stay, and then complete one Qualifying Stay at any Radisson® or Radisson Blu hotel worldwide (“Participating Hotels”). Guest must check in for the Qualifying Stay on or after May 15, 2012 and check out must be completed no later than July 15, 2012 (“Promotion Period”).
This post is where I deconstruct what happened this past week with the Club Carlson misinformation regarding existing reservations counting for the Radisson Big Night Giveaway promotion.
Sorry, your reservation was a pre-existing condition!
Are we talking hotel loyalty promotions or medical insurance loopholes? This is the analogy that comes to mind by denying existing reservations for these current Club Carlson promotions. This restriction seems designed to extract more money from consumers, many of whom purchased prepaid nonrefundable bookings prior to May 15 based on what seemed reliable information posted on Facebook and by Loyalty Traveler.
Not allowing reservations made prior to a hotel loyalty promotion is actually a common restriction for a hotel loyalty promotion. The purpose of most promotions is to drive new business with new hotel reservations.
What’s the Buzz, Tell Me What’s Happening?
This Club Carlson promotion term would be a non-issue if not for the fact that prior to the May 15 promotion launch a couple of supposedly official sources leaked the statement that existing reservations would count for the Club Carlson promotion bonuses on Facebook and to me for Loyalty Traveler blog.
The social media fallout on forum sites like FlyerTalk, MilePoint and blogs like Mommy Points and Deals We Like and Loyalty Traveler here are due to the fact that Club Carlson posted on its Facebook page that existing reservations would count and then later edited the Facebook post to remove that statement.
Club Carlson Facebook page comment from Thursday May 10.
This Facebook screenshot is from thehustleblog.com May 10.
So on May 10 Facebook fans of Club Carlson receive the message that existing reservations will count for the Club Carlson promotions, less than five days before the official promotion launch on May 15.
Thursday, May 10 was also the same day I received an email reply from a Club Carlson PR firm representative stating existing reservations will count for the Radisson, Country Inn and Park Inn promotions. That is the information I posted on Loyalty Traveler blog. I assumed my questions had been directed from the PR rep to someone inside the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group for these responses.
My apologies to Loyalty Traveler readers and other social media bloggers and forums where this inaccurate information was disseminated.
I try to limit speculation on my blog since credibility is the primary quality a social media blogger needs to maintain.
I feel burned by Club Carlson.
Here was my reaction on the Club Carlson Facebook page today.
The Club Carlson comment shown above is the May 11 edited version of the original Facebook post indicating existing reservations would count. The original comment wording is circled in red in the previous screenshot from thehustleblog.com.
Sound Advice for hotel loyalty promotion staffers and PR firms
Hotel loyalty promotion staffers should heed some great advice from Tim Winship, one of the original loyalty program analysts for consumers.
When Should Hotels Announce Upcoming Promotions?
Tim Winship of FrequentFlier.com wrote “When Should Hotels Announce Upcoming Promotions?” (Feb 6, 2012), a piece I consider to be one of the best commentaries for the argument that hotel loyalty programs should release official promotion terms at least two weeks before a loyalty promotion begins.
My recommendation? Hotel promotions should be widely communicated at least two weeks in advance of a promotion’s start date. That means:
- Program members should be alerted at least two weeks prior to the promotion’s effect date via email.
- A landing page on the hotel’s website with complete promotion details should be live at least two weeks in advance.
- Registrations, either by phone or on the hotel’s website, should be accepted at least two weeks in advance.
- A news release with complete promotion details and a web link should be sent out to all legitimate media at least two weeks in advance.
There’s nothing magic about two weeks. It just seems to me that anything less is a disservice to the traveling public in general, to a hotel’s loyalty program members in particular, and to the media who cover the industry.
– Tim Winship (February 6, 2012) – FrequentFlier.com
The Solution: Club Carlson should rectify this situation by allowing members the opportunity to cancel prepaid, nonrefundable reservations purchased last week, prior to the May 15 promotion launch, with no penalty and rebook their stays so as to qualify for these promotion bonuses.
The May 10 Club Carlson Facebook post indicated existing reservations would apply to the May 15 promotion and I was given the same misinformation that I published and disseminated from Loyalty Traveler on May 10.
This is an easy case-by-case solution that is in the best interest of the consumers who feel cheated after booking nonrefundable reservations when official Club Carlson representatives leaked information last week that existing reservations would count for these bonus points offers.
And Club Carlson’s promotion objective to generate new bookings will be met by only allowing those nonrefundable reservations in the May 10-May 14 booking dates be eligible for the penalty free cancellation.