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Club Carlson Announces 2012 Award Changes

SmarterTravel

In what can best be described as peculiar timing, the Club Carlson program has announced its award price changes for 2012 just as its very generous bonus promotion gets underway.

My first thought—understandably, given the history of such moves—was that the good-news promotion was likely a ploy to distract attention from the bad-news price increases.

It turns out, however, that the negative adjustments—hotels upgraded to higher-priced award tiers—are mostly offset by positive changes—other properties downgraded to less expensive award tiers.

Of the 1,077 hotels covered by the Club Carlson program, around 270 hotels will be re-categorized from May 31, with 142 being moved into higher (more expensive) categories and 128 moved into lower (less expensive) categories. So 25 percent of the program’s hotels will be affected, with more or less equal numbers going up and down in price.

As always with such changes, advance notice means there’s an opportunity to make the best of the price changes. So if you have upcoming award stays, review the list of hotels with changing award prices and, if a hotel on your itinerary is changing, proceed as follows:

  • If your stay is at a hotel whose price will increase, book the stay at the current lower rate, before May 31.
  • If your stay is at a hotel whose price will decrease, wait until the new lower rate takes effect on May 31 to book the stay.

Reader Reality Check

How do changes in award prices such as these affect your relationship to your travel loyalty program? Do you consider the changes major downgrades or just minor irritants?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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