Here is the first in a series of tips for the “soon to be” savvy traveler. I’m trying to shape Soulified into a more well-rounded site, that offers more to more grown people. So, the first Travel Secret Tip is hotel loyalty programs. This one tip has given me many free nights at the Marriott. Now, you may say “Hey, I’m not a traveling fool or travel for work. How can this program work for me?” This is how. Most people travel at least one decent sized trip per year. You are going to a decent hotel, so why not make your money work for you after check-out?
The two main reasons for loyalty programs is to consolidate your business with that company, and to allow them to track your habits and preferences. Now you might not want to have your habits and reservations tracked, but they are being tracked with or without you being a part of the loyalty program. They will track you by your name and address. So, don’t worry about it. Since they are doing this, you want to at least get something out of it. Before you join any program, I suggest to find the hotel chain that suits you best. Look at price, locations of hotels, and services they offer in their hotels. Personally I have picked the Marriott chain. Their prices are very reasonable for the type of amenities that you receive. They are in all the locations that I travel or want to travel. Normally they have two or three hotels in a location. Then they have wonderful beds, free wi-fi (some hotels), Starbucks downstairs, and requests are very easy to make.
So, chose your hotel chain well. Please research the hotel chain’s price, and stay within your price range. That is when you get the most bang for the buck. My range is $65 to $199 per night. The high-end is for international traveling. Now that may seem low for international traveling, but not if you do just a little research. Once you are in a loyalty program, they normally send out a weekly list of hotels that have reduced rates. They show domestic and international rates. That is when you can really save. For example, I booked four nights ocean view(included a weekend) at the Puerto Vallarta Casa Magna Marriott for $179 per night. That reservation was booked the day before check-in. Plus the bonus was international hotels earn more points than domestic hotels. So, that four night stay earned me a free domestic hotel night. A great rate and a free room, jackpot!!.
Also when you see a reduced room rate, it will use fewer loyalty points than a full rate at the same hotel. I was able to get two free nights when an Atlanta Marriott had a sale, which normally would have only paid for one night. Another perk of a loyalty program is the points earn you more in hotel bonuses. By consolidating your business with that hotel chain, they treat you better with each stay. Like free room upgrades, valet and wi-fi. It’s a good feeling to know you paid the cheapest price, and you are getting perks that the full priced room doesn’t receive.
The last tip with loyalty programs is, making reservations for other travel needs through that hotel. For example, booked a three night Marriott hotel reservation in Houston for $79 a night. Needed a rental car, and went through their site, which connected me to National Rental. Was able to get a 2008 Volvo 240 for $15 a night. The hotel is able to make additional profit off the captured customer on their website, and the car rental company is able to rent to someone with a lower amount of risk. There is a whole formula for a patron who is a certain level with loyalty card X, spends Y per trip, and has income of Z. So you become someone who is lower risk to them, so that gives you a lower price. Hope I didn’t go too deep for anyone on this first travel post. It’s something that I love, and have been doing it for a career for 16 years. Below is a list of a few loyalty/reward programs. Leave your comments and tell me what you think. Thanks for your time.