‘Loyal hotel’ guests go bargain-hunting
By Jeri Clausing
In good times and bad, consumers say val- ue is king when selecting a hotel room. So how do hoteliers sweeten the pot when rates are already about as low as they can go? During the current downturn, major
hotel chains have been using aggressive promotions with their rewards programs to lure customers to their brands.
InterContinental Hotels Group is offering a coupon for one free night with every two nights paid,
good at any of its hotels anytime. Starwood has a
similar promotion: one weekend night free for every two paid visits. Marriott is giving three reward
nights for the price of two.
Hilton’s promotions have focused more on
double and bonus points. Even smaller chains like
Omni are upping the ante with things like free
ironing and coffee to all of its loyalty club members every time they stay.
“In the last six months we’ve seen a significant
upturn in people joining the program,” said Don
Berg , vice president of loyalty programs at IHG. “I
think some of it’s related … to the economic
downturn and a lot of
it has to do with the
publicity around hotel
“People are starting to realize they have features
that make them more valuable” than airline programs, Berg said, noting it’s much easier to get a free
hotel room than a free airline ticket using rewards.
Eileen Hanson, vice president of marketing
strategy and communications for Hilton HHon-ors, agreed.
“By far we see more and more of our members
engaged in the program,” she said. “Not only just
earning points but on the redemption side as we
add more and more rewards to the rewards store
or unique programs.
… I think everyone
is seeing the value of
hotel loyalty programs
more than ever.”
While the flurry of promotions this year hasn’t
necessarily brought in new travelers, hotel executives say such offers definitely sway those already
See HOTELS on Page 20
Increasing numbers of leisure travelers
have been joining hotel loyalty programs.
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