25 June 2007

Travel Tip: Frequent Stay Program

Travel Tip from the Washington Post:

When booking a hotel room, do you not bother joining its frequent-stay program because you figure you won't be staying at that particular brand often enough?
Rethink that attitude. It could be worth joining the program -- all of which are free -- even if it's your first and only visit. Just signing up can get you a better room assignment and other benefits.
When you sign up for the frequent-stay program at Wyndham Hotels, for example, you'll be asked to designate your favorite pillow type, your favorite welcome drink and your favorite snack, and those will be awaiting your arrival the first and every time you visit a Wyndham. You'll also be offered during each stay free high-speed internet access, express check-in, late checkout on request, 500 frequent-flier miles, and the best room available at check in.
It's an interesting tip so I thought I'd share it (despite the embedded Wyndham ad). I'm on the fence on this. I used to think "If it's free, why not?" but I've gotten more cautious as the years go on.
How much junk mail do I get from places I'll never go back to? How many e-newsletters that I then have to unsubscribe to? How many cards in my wallet?
Ooooooooo, there's a meaty tangent! It seems every year or so I wind up going through my wallet and pulling out frequent flyer/frequent shopper/frequent whatever cards that I haven't used in a while just to limit the bulk and improve my wallet Feng Shui. And how about all the tiny cards for key chains that wind up falling out of your wallet or getting hopelessly lost in between the big ones? And when you do want a frequent whatever card, why do you get 4?? I swear, the last time I signed up for one, they gave me two standard sized ones and two key chain-sized ones. Good golly, Miss Molly, this sure is a waste. But I digress...
I guess the point is, these days I don't put my name on every list just because a clerk suggests it. I ask "Is it free?" and, if so, then "What do I get?" If the clerk gives me answers that are compelling enough to fill out the form, I'll do it.
There are definitely places that honor "returning guests" over first time guests and that's cool. I like the concept of rewarding loyalty. And there are places that let you accumulate rewards as a way of rewarding loyalty. This is also cool, if you want the rewards they offer. And, finally, there are so many mergers and deals now that to find a company that doesn't have affiliates is very unusual. So Wyndham may have cut a deal with United and Hertz and Cingular or some such arrangement where you can parlay your rewards at one into rewards/discounts at others. That's way worth it if you'd likely use these companies anyway.

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