Members reap hotel rewards in winter
By Tim Winship
For the past two years, the hotel industry has been on a promotional tear in the longest sustained marketing push ever. Among the promotions for winter travel:
• Through Feb. 18, members of the Choice Privileges program can earn triple airline miles or hotel points for the second and subsequent stays at Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, Ascend, MainStay Suites, Suburban, EconoLodge, and Rodeway Inn hotels.
Stays must be booked at www.choicehotels.com or 800-424-6423.
• Hilton is offering members of its HHonors program a free night after completing four stays or 10 nights through March 31 at Hilton, Doubletree, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, Conrad, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations, or Waldorf Astoria Collection hotels. A maximum of three free nights may be earned after 12 stays or 30 nights.
• Marriott has resurrected its MegaBonus promotion for stays between Feb. 1 and April 30: 2,500 bonus points for the second and subsequent stays, up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points.
• Members of the Priority Club Rewards program are being offered 1,000 bonus points or 200 airline miles for every qualifying night at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, or Candlewood Suites hotels between Feb. 1 and April 30.
• Between Jan. 5 and April 15, Starwood Preferred Guest members can earn up to quadruple points for multiple stays, as follows: double points for stays of one or two nights; triple points for three-night stays; and quadruple points for stays of four or more nights. The bonuses are for consecutive nights spent at the same hotel. Starwood brands include Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Westin, The Luxury Collection, aloft, Sheraton, Element, St. Regis, and W.
Note: The Hilton promotion doesn't take effect until a member of the chain's program has completed four stays or 10 nights. That's more hotel time than the average traveler is likely to log. The Choice and Marriott offers also require more than a single night. The Priority Club and Starwood offers, on the other hand, reward you for as little as a single stay.
CREDIT CARD BONUS
When British Airways offered new customers for its Signature Visa card 50,000 miles after the first purchase charged to the card, plus a second 50,000 miles after charging $2,000 during the first three months, it was widely applauded as the most generous credit card bonus ever.
But British Airways and Chase, the card issuer, terminated the offer in December, after just a one-month run.
For 2010 — or some yet-to-be-determined portion thereof — the offer is on again.
The card also entitles users to a $50 discount on British Airways tickets charged to the card, and a free companion award ticket for cardholders who charge $30,000 or more in a year.
The Visa card comes with a $75 annual fee, and a variable annual percentage rate on unpaid balances, currently 13.24 percent.
For details, or to apply for the card, http://mychasecreditcards.com/britishairways/tray.
US Airways has begun the new year with a decidedly retro promotion: 1,500 bonus miles for flights purchased at www.usairways.com by March 31 and flown by July 31. An online booking bonus? That's so last decade, when airlines routinely used such bonuses to train consumers to buy their tickets online instead of dialing in to the carriers' heavily staffed (and expensive to operate) call centers.
Does US Airways' move presage a comeback for online booking bonuses industry-wide? There just isn't any need to use incentives to encourage online booking. But, a blast from the past is still a blast.