I use credit card sign-up bonuses and the loyalty programs for the major hotel conglomerates, including InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) Priority Club; Hyatt Gold Passport; Hilton HHonors; Club Carlson; and Starwood Preferred Guest. I like the Hotels.com Welcome Rewards program, which effectively yields a discount of nearly 10%.
These programs have regular redemption rules, and the credit card sign-up bonuses can often yield several nights upfront. Aside from that though, procuring discounts can be rare. I look out for program promotions by having most of my Twitter feed spew travel-related messages.
Several months ago, Hotels.com released a limited number of coupons for discounts of $30-$50. There was a cap on the number of times the code could be used, maybe 20,000 total by the Internet population. I quickly booked many reservations in one-night durations to maximize usage of the coupon code.
On Cyber Monday, December 1, Expedia’s promotion was for a cool $100 off of any booking made with a Visa credit card.
In late August, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Priority Club launched a promotion called “Into the Nights.” Among the travel-hacking community, there were complaints about the individually targeted offers and severe technical snafus. The technical mishaps got cleared. The carrot of the “Into the Nights” promotion was that the account-holder would receive two free nights at any InterContinental Hotel Group property in the world, with no restriction to actual market price. The most expensive IHG property is the InterContinental Thalasso-Spa Bora Bora, where rates for the least-expensive room can approach $1300 per night! The Reward Nights expire within one year.
One would obtain the carrot by completing four of five given “offers.” For many loyal IHG business travelers, their hurdles to earn the two free nights seemed laughably difficult or not worth pursuing, such as staying 30 nights. I have only made a few recent IHG stays, all in Manhattan and via Reward Nights. My offer was as follows:
Note how each offer also accumulates points, in addition to the normal points from making a paid stay. My promotion was incredibly juicy. Specifically, I would be offered 36,000 points to stay in my local EVEN Hotel in Rockville, Maryland. I actually fulfilled this requirement by making the $115 reservation, checking into the hotel, and never even looking at the room!
I noticed that I could knock out four of the five offers by staying in as few as a total of two nights, which is exactly what I did. When I stayed in the EVEN Hotel, I booked it for a Saturday with a Bonus Points breakfast package. I booked another Saturday night in Barcelona, and I cleared all the requirements. I needed hotel nights in Barcelona anyway, so I basically paid only $115 for two Reward Night certificates and 46,100 points, which have a value of more than $300. That’s how you build travel equity.
IHG is running another promotion similar to its “Into the Nights” one called “Set Your Sights.” I would not advise taking extra effort to accrue promotion bonuses, but if you are traveling for leisure or business anyway, then it may make sense. Unfortunately, I am probably not going to participate in this promotion because one of the terms I would have to fulfill is booking at a Holiday Inn Club Vacation property. Those hotels are located only in the United States, and the terms dictate that I have to check in physically.