One of the issues faced by frequent travelers planning stays around hotel loyalty promotions is sometimes the promotion bonuses do not post automatically and require follow-up.
And sometimes it requires multiple times on the phone, email and other to get hotel promotion bonuses. Every now and then I write a rant about how a promotion went badly. The general outcome is I get the promotion bonus I should have received automatically. In the best of outcomes, some of my rants over the past 15 years influenced frequent flyer and hotel loyalty program policies and rules.
50% promotion fulfillment will not win loyalty.
My December trip to Prague relied in part on paid hotel stays in four different hotel loyalty programs to take advantage of promotion offers for bonus points and free nights with Choice Privileges, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards and Wyndham Rewards.
Marriott Rewards Fall 2017 MegaBonus is the only one of four hotel loyalty promotions I planned to earn that played out without a hitch. I stayed at Moxy London Stratford and AC Copenhagen and earned a free category 5 reward night certificate.
IHG Rewards Club Accelerate fall 2017 was a big loss for me due to my own error. I needed only one paid IHG hotel stay using my IHG MasterCard to complete 2 of 3 Accelerate tasks and earn 25,600 bonus points. A Points & Cash stay at InterContinental Warsaw in October completed one task. Holiday Inn Express London Stratford was my planned paid stay to complete two other tasks required to earn my Fall 2017 Accelerate Achievement bonus points.
I waited until the last week of the promotion period to complete that paid IHG night. At check-in I received a shock. My hotel reservation had been canceled due to an invalid IHG credit card used to book a nonrefundable hotel stay on my IHG Rewards Club account. That news had me spending an hour in the lobby trying to piece together what had happened when I really wanted to be sightseeing in London.
My IHG MasterCard story.
After my July trip to Prague, where my wallet was stolen at the airport as I boarded a crowded public bus, I relied on my IHG MasterCard (stashed in another bag) to get through the remainder of our summer trip. About a month after returning to California I was notified by Chase that my IHG Mastercard was used fraudulently for a purchase after my return from Europe. That card was cancelled and replaced.
Since I rarely use my IHG MasterCard and had not tried to pay for anything with the credit card since August, it was only upon check-in at the Holiday Inn Express London Stratford in December that I learned the card I had cut up and tossed in September was actually my new IHG card and the card in my wallet was the cancelled IHG MasterCard.
That error cost me 25,600 bonus points I would have earned by paying for the hotel stay with my IHG MasterCard. I earned 2,000 bonus points from the Accelerate promotion. Since I was in Europe through the end of the promotion, there was no way I could complete Accelerate without an IHG MasterCard.
The Latvian receptionist eased my pain by honoring my originally booked rate and offering me an extra voucher for a beer at the bar.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Accelerate Jan 1-Apr 30, 2018 registration open.
I now have another new IHG MasterCard for completing another IHG Rewards Club Accelerate 2018 task requiring IHG MasterCard payment for a hotel stay.
Wyndham Rewards Visa Checkout 3 stays earn 15,000 bonus points Nov 1-Feb 28, 2018 promotion earned 3,000 bonus points for the first stay, 5,000 bonus points for second stay and 7,000 bonus points for third stay.
My first stay at Days Hotel London Waterloo posted the initial 3,000 bonus points for Visa Checkout, however, my second stay at Ramada Prague Airport did not post Visa Checkout bonus points.
In October, I earned 15,000 bonus points on two MasterPass stays without any problem.
My Visa Checkout stay at Ramada Prague Airport is a stay I still need to follow up on for 5,000 bonus points. Dealing with Wyndham Rewards customer service is my most dreaded phone call among hotel loyalty programs. I generally have to go through multiple customer service agents to get someone capable of acting on the issue and spend an hour of my time explaining my situation repeatedly.
I planned to tackle that yesterday, but put that task off after 45 minutes on the phone with Choice Privileges in an unsuccessful attempt to get 5,000 bonus points added to my account.
Choice Privileges 5,000 Bonus Points November 14 Offer
Loyalty Traveler – Choice Privileges 5,000 bonus points Tue Nov 14 for hotel booking
Choice Privileges ran three days of special deals November 13-15 for 30% off points purchases; 5,000 bonus points for a booking on Nov 14 and 15% off a hotel stay.
At the time I received the email offer for 5,000 bonus points, I had a reward night stay already booked for 10,000 points at Clarion Prague City for late December.
On November 14, I canceled that reward night and booked a 91.20 EUR nonrefundable night at Clarion Prague City to earn 5,000 bonus points from the Choice Privileges Members Only Madness Deal #2 offer.
I wrote about the promotion offer on November 14 and included the full Terms and Conditions in my article.
After 45 minutes on the phone yesterday with Choice Privileges customer service, the final statement from the representative was my hotel stay did not qualify for the 5,000 bonus points due to my booking the hotel stay through ChoiceHotels.com, while the promotion required booking via Choice Hotels mobile app.
Here are the full terms of that promotion.
Terms and Conditions
Subject to availability. Registration for the promotion is required prior to booking. Hotel reservations must be booked by 11:59pm MST 11/14/2017 via ChoiceHotels.com or the Choice Hotels mobile app. Only valid for qualifying stays with arrivals by 12/31/17. A stay includes all consecutive nights at the same hotel regardless of check-ins or checkouts. Excludes rooms booked below certain rates, complimentary rooms, rooms paid for as part of a convention or meeting, rooms booked through a travel agent or third party online retailer as part of pre-paid wholesale rates, wholesale packages, senior tours and stays at vacation rental property locations.
Member will be awarded a one-time bonus of 5,000 Choice Privileges points after completing a qualifying stay. Please allow 72 hours from check-out for points to post. Points from stays at international properties could take longer; please allow 20 days from check-out for points to post.
Choice Hotels reserves the right to change or discontinue this offer at any time. Available to U.S. residents only.
For Choice Privileges program details, eligible rates, eligible countries and point redemption rules, visitwww.ChoiceHotels.com/CPrules. Email offer is valid only for use by and for intended recipient. Access to or use of this email offer by anyone else is unauthorized and will not be eligible to receive bonus points. Hotels are independently owned and operated.
As shown in my promotion image above, I registered for the 5,000 bonus points promotion.
As shown in the T&C, booking on ChoiceHotels.com is clearly allowed for this promotion offer.
“Hotel reservations must be booked by 11:59pm MST 11/14/2017 via ChoiceHotels.com or the Choice Hotels mobile app. Only valid for qualifying stays with arrivals by 12/31/17.”
Pursuing these 5,000 bonus points is clearly not worth my time based on the value of 5,000 Choice Privileges points ($55), but I will press on to get these points on principle that my hotel stay decisions were influenced by this offer to change from a reward night at 10,000 points to a paid night at $110 USD.
The purpose of hotel loyalty program promotions is to influence customer member behavior. Generally I find great value in hotel loyalty programs for my travels due to an overall reduced cost of lodging. Over the course of the year I save thousands of dollars on hotels using hotel loyalty programs.
Following up on hotel promotion bonuses that do not automatically post is one of the most annoying parts of loyalty program membership.
End of Rant #1.
Rant # 2 is about what Best Western Rewards did this week with their new promotion offers.
Update: Fri Feb 16 – After about another 45 minutes and several direct mail communications via Twitter with @ChoiceHotels, along with an image of my hotel receipt, I received the missing 5,000 Choice Privileges points.