What’s In It For You?

by Country Inns & Suites
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to choose a rewards program that really delivers.

Hotel rewards programs are big on promises … but do they deliver? When it comes to choosing program that fits your lifestyle and needs, the onus is on the consumer to weigh all the options and make a wise choice.
Before you commit to supporting a single program, ask these questions to be sure its features are a good fit.

  • Can points be converted to frequent flyer miles?  This is a key way business travelers transfer frequent hotel stays into benefits for their families. Ask if the program offers a better than 1/1 ratio when converting points into airline miles. You’ll also want to find out how many partner airlines participate, giving you more options when you’re ready to book a ticket.
  • Are there added benefits for the most frequent users?  Inquire about specific perks for racking up multiple stays. Some of these benefits are ongoing; others are part of special promotions.
  • Does membership really carry exclusive benefits?  Feeling special is what it’s all about. The best rewards programs reach out to their loyal customers with regular promotions and special perks.  Ask for examples of what has been done in the past year.
  •  Does the program cover multiple brands?  You might rack up points staying at a business hotel, but prefer to take your family to an all suites value-oriented hotel. The most flexible program will encompass hotels of all price points, such as Carlson’s goldpoints plus program which encompasses its five brands from luxury to economy.
  • What’s in the fine print? Be sure that the program is forthcoming about any restrictions or blackout dates.
  • How expansive is the hotel network?  Can you really cash in with overnight stays in exotic locales, or is the brand concentrated in certain geographic markets?
  • Are there benefits for online booking?  It’s the most convenient way to make a reservation, especially if you’re rewarded with points for doing so.
  • What can you buy with your points?  Besides airline miles, how far do your rewards’ dollars go? Look for a program that offers the chance to save on things you really need, like gas for the car and sporting goods for the kids.
  • Ask about brand name partners.  If your program is aligned with recognizable brand names that you trust, like Eddie Bauer, Best Buy and Saks Fifth Avenue, or offers the option of a pre-paid card to buy other branded items you want, it’s a safe bet that the program is first class all the way.

For more information about Country Inns & Suites goldpoints plus program visit the Country Inns website, and select “goldpoints plus” on the right of the menu bar.