While there are signs of a rebound in travel, it's going to be a long slog, especially for hotels, which weren't able to cut capacity to match the recession-fueled decline in demand and still find themselves with a glut of unsold rooms.
According to STR, a hotel-industry consulting company, the occupancy rate for U.S. hotels was up 6.7 percent for the third quarter, to 63.9 percent.
That's an improvement, but there are still plenty of empty hotel rooms in most markets. Which, while it lasts, creates an opportunity to make more free nights available to members of the hotels' loyalty programs.
That's a win-win.
The hotels can give away more award nights while demand for paid nights is slack, reaping a goodwill windfall in the process.
And travelers get better access to hotel rooms. Or, in the case of a new Choice Hotels promotion, they get room nights for fewer points.
Between November 3, 2010, and January 19, 2011, Choice Privileges members can book award stays at participating Preferred Hotel Group properties for up to 50 percent fewer points, as follows:
- Room nights normally priced at 30,000 points are reduced to 20,000 points, a 33 percent discount.
- Room nights normally priced at 40,000 points are reduced to 25,000 points, a 38 percent discount.
- Room nights normally priced at 50,000 points are reduced to 30,000 points, a 40 percent discount.
- Room nights normally priced at 60,000 points are reduced to 30,000 points, a 50 percent discount.
Bookings at the reduced rates must be made by calling 888-770-6800.
Not all Preferred Hotel Group properties participate in this offer, so be sure to check the list on the Choice website.
Deal or No Deal
Stays at high-end hotels for up to 50 percent fewer points ... what's not to like?
If there is a negative here, it's that so many of the Preferred Hotel properties are outside the U.S.
Reader Reality Check
More generally, what's your take on the Choice Privileges program?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.