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Are Better Hotel Bonuses on the Way?

SmarterTravel

Dear Tim,

Thank you for the nice story on the [% 2878984 | | Hilton chain’s promotion %] through June.

As a Hilton HHonors member, I am always interested in a Hilton special.

Can you tell me how often hotel chains change their promotions such as the one you referenced in your story?

I need to book a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Calgary this September and will wait a bit before doing so if there is a possibility of a promotion during that time frame. We stay at the Hilton because of its “stopover” program which allows us to park our car for the duration of our overseas trip in return for staying one night at the hotel.

The cost of the room is less than the cost of leaving the car at Park & Jet at the airport so we get a relaxing night at the Hilton either before or after the trip AND car security for the price of just parking.

We live in Montana but fly out of Calgary because the prices are better and we enjoy the free flights we get through our Aeroplan membership.

Thomas

Dear Thomas,

Yours is the frequent traveler version of the ever-recurring “Is this the best time to book a flight?” question. In other words, will travel conditions (prices, frequent flyer awards, etc.) be better in the future, or should I book today?

And the answer is: There’s no easy answer. That’s especially true in these turbulent times.

Airlines and hotels adjust their promotional activity as demand for travel rises and falls. And travel demand is driven by many factors, which sometimes veer off into unpredictability.

During a typical year, the hotel chains have only one network-wide promotion, to spur travel during the slack period after New Year’s and before Memorial Day. But this past year has been anything but typical, and the outlook for the next year is uncertain at best.

Still, given the unprecedented level of hotel promotional activity we’ve seen so far this year, my best guess is that there will indeed be some form of hotel bonuses on offer in September. But that’s based on the assumption that the global recession won’t abate before the end of this year, and that concerns about [% 2890386 | | swine flu %] will continue depressing demand for travel.

All things considered, I’d say there’s no hurry to commit to that September stay. But even if you book today, as long as it’s a refundable rate, you can cancel and rebook if a better price becomes available, or if an HHonors promotion is launched that only applies to new bookings.

Separately, I am also a fan of the park-and-fly offers available at some airport-adjacent hotels. Aimed at area residents flying from their home airports, the packages combine a night’s stay, parking at the hotel, and shuttle service to the airport for a discounted rate. It can make for a less stressful travel experience, and be good value as well.

Happy travels!

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