Carlson's hotel program relaunches with better value proposition

It's not often that a major travel loyalty program completely revamps itself. But as of October 28, goldpoints plus, the frequent-stay program of Carlson Hotels (Regent, Radisson, Park Plaza, Country Inns, and Park Inn® hotels), has done just that.

The most significant changes are the earning rates, which have doubled from 10 to 20 points per dollar spent at full-service hotels, and increased by 50% at limited-service properties, from 10 to 15 points per dollar spent.

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The program now has elite tiers with bonus points and best-available-room guarantees among the featured benefits.

Another new feature: Points Plus Cash, which allows members to combine points and cash for hotel stays, beginning at $49 plus 5,000 points for one free night.

And on the charitable side of the program, members may donate their points to the World Childhood Foundation, or to the CarbonNeutral Company, which helps offset carbon emissions associated with travel.

To promote the change, there's a bonus offer in place through January 31, 2008: 5,000 bonus points after every fifth night.

To be sure, this was an underperforming program in need of an overhaul. The changes won't put goldpoints plus ahead of the programs of Hilton, Marriott, or Starwood, but it puts the program back into the competitive mix. A hotel network like Carlson's, which encompasses five brands and 965 properties worldwide, deserves no less.

Which raises the question: Why didn't Carlson do this sooner?

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