Go back a few years and these sort of generous promotions were far more commonplace such as Hyatt’s famously lucrative Faster Free Nights offer. However, in recent years, hotel chains have tended to veer away from offers of this nature, instead preferring to offer points-based incentives as their quarterly or seasonal attempts to persuade you to funnel hotel stays towards their brands. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover the details of Club Carlson’s summer promotion and the interesting set of possibilities that it raises.
What is it?
Club Carlson is the loyalty program for Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza and Quorvus Collection hotels. Last week it unveiled an excellent-looking summer offer which is being called “Free Fridays”.
It allows guests a choice of reward, which can be earned after just 2 stays. Guests will have the option of earning either 10,000 bonus (Club Carlson) Gold points or a free Friday night after every 2 stays. This bonus is capped at 30,000 bonus Gold points or 3 free Friday nights over the course of the promotion.
IMPORTANT: You can only earn 1 type of reward: either the extra points or the free Friday nights and you must lock in a decision when you enrol in this offer which will apply for the duration of the promotional period.
Which deal should you pick?
Personally, it has to be the free Friday nights. That’s because a redemption at a top tier property such as the Mayfair Hotel, London would cost 70,000 (Club Carlson) Gold points per night. The cash price for this hotel usually ranges from about £300-£350 per night which means that 10,000 bonus points are going to be worth roughly £40-£50. Given that the alternative is a free night certificate that can be redeemed for that same hotel room at the Mayfair – you could potentially get upwards of £350+ of value!
How to get maximum value from this promotion
Well, the trick here is to try for minimal outlay on the 2 nights required to trigger the free night certificate. You can then use the certificate for an (hopefully) otherwise expensive Friday night stay somewhere.
If you have any work travel coming up that requires an overnight stay, it may well be worth checking to see if you can find a convenient Carlson hotel and do your ‘qualifying stays’ that way.
What if I’ll need more than just a Friday night for a weekend away?
As per the T&C’s, separate reservations can be made for additional nights before/after the free Friday night reservation. And that’s a good thing – say you decided to make a weekend of it, you don’t necessarily want to have to find a different hotel for the remainder of your trip.
If you wanted to keep this as a redemption trip you could always utilise Club Carlson points for the remainder. Club Carlson is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards (MR) at a very decent 1:3 ratio.
You can earn MR points by taking out one of their charge cards such the Preferred Rewards Gold card (full review) which would give you 20,000 MR points or if converted; 60,000 Gold points. Alternatively, the Platinum card (full review) would give you 30,000 MR points, which if converted, would become 90,000 Gold points.
A night at a top-end Category 7 property costs 70,000 Gold points or 23,333 MR points. It is hard to argue with that sort of value if choosing to convert your MR points to hotel points.
How to book
You must register for this offer before checkout of your first stay. You can do so here.
After registering, you can simply book and stay as normal and you will receive your chosen reward automatically.
Here are some key things to be aware of, concerning this deal:
- You must be a member of Club Carlson to participate in this promotion – you can register for free here.
- Free Friday nights will be issued in the form of an e-certificate
- They will be valid for stays between 6th October 2017 and 26th January 2018.
- These certificates expire on 26th January 2018
- Friday E-Certs will be awarded three times throughout the Promotion, 1) by Aug. 15 for E-Certs earned in July, 2) by Sep. 15 for E-Certs earned in August and 3) by Oct 15 for E-Certs earned in September.
- You will be notified you have a Friday E-Cert via email and awarded Friday E-Certs will be visible under ‘My Account’ when you are logged in on clubcarlson.com.
- Interestingly there is nothing in the T&C’s to suggest that there any significant blackout dates of any kind.
Full T&C’s can be found at the foot of the offer page here.
It is a most welcome to see a hotel chain going down this route again – and I think the opportunity to pick up some free nights that can be used at an expensive hotel – from just a couple of cheap (work) stays is a great return.