With the rebound in the economy, there are glimmers of an associated rebound in travel. That's good for the hotels, which have been mounting promotion after promotion for the past two-plus years, discounting rates and offering bonuses with unprecedented abandon. But good times for the hotels will be just the opposite for their customers, who will find themselves on the receiving end of stiffer hotel bills and fewer loyalty points.
While we may be approaching the tipping point, when increased demand shifts pricing power back into the hands of the hotels, the latest announcement from Starwood would suggest that we're not there yet.
Starwood's last promotion—up to quadruple points for multiple stays—ended on April 15. Would they extend it, roll out a new promotion, or boldly go forth with no extra sales incentives at all?
The answer—good news for travel consumers—takes the form of a new promotion that will keep Starwood in promotional mode at least through the end of July.
Between May 1 and July 31, Starwood Preferred Guest members can earn a free weekend night after every three paid stays.
Registration is required, and must be completed by June 30. (The registration link won't be active until May 1.)
Deal or No Deal
The Starwood promotional copy promises "No limits. No catch."
That's not quite right.
- While the bonus can be earned an unlimited number of times, for stays at all Starwood properties, the free night cannot be taken at 16 Category 7 hotels (the highest-priced of Starwood's award tiers).
- The free nights are not transferable, so they can't be given away as gifts.
- And the free nights must be redeemed by December 19, 2010.
Quibbles aside, this offer potentially delivers significant value. By logging three one-night stays at lower-priced Starwood brands and taking the free night at an expensive property, a Preferred Guest member can leverage the promotion to get a nice return-on-investment, and enjoy a pleasantly high-end getaway as well.
Reader Reality Check
Anyone planning to execute the buy-cheap-redeem-upscale strategy? Which hotels are you planning to use to qualify, and where do plan to use the free night?