If you’re like me, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Because of that, I tend to put things on the back burner if they’re not due right away. So I haven’t even noticed that the hotel chains have all started their newest round of promotions. As it turns out, not all is lost as many offers are very “procrastinator friendly” this time around. Instead of waiting until the last minute, take a few minutes right now to sign up. That’s what I’m going to do. That way you won’t forget and end up missing out on free points.
Sharon and I have stayed at some really fancy hotels. A few of them even made my list of the most memorable places we’ve ever stayed. While all of these ritzy hotels looked really nice, sometimes the service wasn’t that great. The staff often seemed to be trying so hard that their actions bordered on being robotic. Other times the service we’ve gotten at expensive hotels is just mediocre and occasionally has been really poor. In comparison, we’ve often received outstanding service at hotels in the most unexpected locations. I’m sure that almost everyone has booked a hotel somewhere because that’s where you needed to be. We were recently in such a situation and were pleasantly surprised with the service at the hotel where we stayed.
Faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product
That’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of loyal. I think it’s important to remember this when we talk about loyalty programs. Whether it’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, gas stations or Amazon.com, the goal of these programs is to make you loyal to their product. Even more, they’re designed to increase how loyal you are and they’re really good at it.
It used to be that you were loyal to a company because of the product they offered. That might be due to any of these reasons:
Companies decided that instead of competing only on those areas, they wanted to add another variable and the loyalty programs were created. Over the years, the programs have added many reasons for you to be “loyal” to them. Some can be viewed as rewards but others can often look more like punishments for not being loyal.
- Discounts for members of programs
- Special treatment on the phone and in person with dedicated staff for members
- Upgrades to the product received
- Free perks for members (when buying directly from the company)
- Rewards (when buying directly from the company)
I can see the last two as being extras for members but they can also be seen as punishments for those who look for a lower price elsewhere. You might pay more by booking directly but that’s what you need to do to prove loyalty. But wait, I thought I was getting rewarded for loyalty, not having to prove that I’m loyal by paying extra. That’s not how it’s supposed to work?!?!?!
We try to visit Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, Florida at least once a year. It’s one of our favorite places to eat, anywhere. We love going with friends and introducing them to the Bern’s experience but when we get the urge to go, we’ll make it a date and take the hour (or three hour with bad traffic) drive on I-4. Most time we’ll go earlier in the evening and then head home afterwards. For this trip, we also had to be in Tampa the following evening so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of the visit to the Florida west coast.
I knew what hotel I wanted to book. In 2013, the owners of Bern’s Steak House helped open a hotel across the street. The four story, 137 room hotel is focused around fine food and great wine. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re eating at Bern’s because after the steak and a trip to the dessert room upstairs, all you need to do is make it across the street and fall into bed.
Remember Pitfall? It was that seemingly simple game for Atari that ended up being incredibly difficult because if you jumped at the wrong time or was a pixel to the left, you were dead, video game speaking. You then had to start all over to get to the same place and try not to make the same mistake again.
My dealing with Citi’s websites, trying to redeem Thank You points for an upcoming hotel stay, has felt much like this process over the last several days. Every time I got past one obstacle, another one appeared that was just as difficult to accomplish as the last one.
I offer my guidance, much like a cheat guide, to let you know where the traps lie and how to avoid them or what to do if you get caught by one.
As you may have read, we had a blowout trip through the American Southwest this fall. For us, a fifteen night trip is an amazingly long time to be away from home. We could have stayed at the same hotel chain’s properties and worked our way towards some low level of status. However, it was much better for us to pick the best hotel for us in each location and use the most sensible form of payment, be it paying cash or using points. The same thing went for the flights which were booked with a combination of cash and airline miles.
This was possible because I had a stash of points in several hotel programs as well as having transferrable credit card points. Some of the rooms I paid for because the hotels either weren’t part of any point program or there was a promotion that made paying a much better value than using points.
I don’t write about every time I book a hotel or flight because most times it’s pretty boring stuff. But there are occasionally those times when I manage to get such a great deal that I have to tell someone. I mean, this is why Sharon and I started the blog in the first place – because our friends kept asking how we were able to do all of the travel things we did without being independently wealthy.
I just booked one of those rooms.