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Back in May, The Telegraph in the UK had a piece about “Hotels ‘hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers” that I covered here. Now, HotelNewsNow, an industry publication, has an article “How to fight against TripAdvisor blackmail”. You can access the entire HotelNewsNow piece here: While TripAdvisor and other travel review websites can be powerful marketing tools for hotels, they can also pose threats. Operators said some disgruntled or unscrupulous guests have threatened to post negative reviews of hotels unless they receive compensation—a room upgrade, a free room or even cash. “Hotels need to accept that a small unscrupulous segment of travelers may use their social media clout to demand unreasonable concessions,” said Daniel Edward Craig, founder of online reputation management consulting firm Reknown. “Review threats can put staff in an extremely difficult position. They don’t want to cave in to unreasonable demands, but they also don’t want to be blamed for a bad review.” Hoteliers at times might confuse a threat of a bad review with a basic service issue, said Adele Gutman, VP of sales, marketing and revenue for New York City-based Library Hotel Collection. “What some hotels say is blackmail 99% of the time is simply a very weary, frustrated traveler,” she said. “We coach our staff to be compassionate and disarm (angry guests) by being kind and trying to put them at ease. Even if you ultimately can’t fix the problem, at least the guest can see there is someone who is truly trying to make things better for them.” Conclusion I truly doubt that there are many travelers that would be “threatening” hotels with negative reviews if they don’t provide room upgrades or extra services. Even if there would be, all the hotels would get these nutcase reviews every now and then, and these wouldn’t really change their TripAdvisor rankings over longer period at all. What I see more often nowadays, are replies from hotels to these TripAdvisor reviews that have nothing to do with the review left by the guest. Some manager is just copy/pasting their same reply to each and every review. The TripAdvisor problem for bad […]

Marriott Rewards announced in July (read more here) that they would launch FlashPerks on July 17, 2014, for 12 week period. Their goal is to have 10 – 15 deals every week for 24 hours or before they sell out. Seems that that there are quite a few nice deals for hotels discounts both using points & cash. I am not very impressed about the experiences or merchandise rewards. You can access Marriott’s web page for this offer here. Hotel Deals: The Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel Package Room Rate + PERKS – 40% Off  Bienvenue! The five-star Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe sits just steps away from the world-famous landmark and Champs-Elysées Avenue. The most breathtaking of Arc de Triomphe Paris hotels, ours offers a thoroughly modern design,as well as the foodie favorite Makassar Lounge & Restaurant, serving contemporary French – Indonesian cuisine. • 40% Off Junior Suite Rates • Includes two Arc de Triomphe tickets • Complimentary cocktail school for two guests, incluing three cocktails: 1 alcoholic, 1 non-alcoholic and 1 hot cocktail, plus an Indonesian tasting • Stay Dates: November 30 – December 15 • Up to 10 rooms available per night • Prepay in full, non-refundable, no changes The JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa Package Room Rate + PERKS – 30% Off  The AAA 4-Diamond JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa welcomes you to a place where personal service, invigorating recreation and excellent dining are in abundance. The resort also impresses with the award-winning Revive Spa and championship Wildfire Golf Club, home to the LPGA Founders Cup. 30% Off Regular Rates for Dining Package for Two* Includes breakfast for two, daily (including taxes and gratuities) * $50 food and beverage credit per night Free kids’ meals for children 12 and under 20% off retail shop purchases Late checkout (2 PM) Resort fee included Stay dates: Sept 10-14, Sept 24-28; Oct 1-4, 9-12; Oct 29 – Nov 2; Nov 20-23 Up to 10 rooms available per night Prepay in full, non-refundable, no changes The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa Package […]

Starwood made an announcement yesterday that they would launch SPG Pro on October 15, 2014, that will replace the current meeting planner and travel professionals programs. Under the new SPG Pro, members will earn one Starpoint for every $3 in eligible group spend (maximum 20,000 Starpoints per event) and 1 elite night for every 20 eligible contract nights (maximum 20 nights per contract). You can access and register for SPG Pro program here. Under the new program any SPG member that organizes an event or books travel for others (doesn’t need to be a professional planner) can earn extra Starpoints and elite nights. SPG Gold and Platinum members will earn 1 Starpoint for every $2 in qualified spend and SPG Platinum 75 nights members 2 Starpoints for every $3. Here’s the press release from SPG: STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®), the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT), is breaking new ground in customer loyalty and personalization with the debut of SPG Pro, an all-new, comprehensive loyalty program for meeting and travel professionals. Set to debut in October 2014, this new program will offer meeting and travel professionals SPG elite status, upgrades and Starpoints for B2B business booked at any of Starwood’s nearly 1,200 properties around the world. Plus going forward, any SPG member who books a group stay, event or corporate business meeting, regardless of if they are a travel professional or not, will earn Starpoints and status for the business they influence. Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen said that SPG Pro was designed to leverage the strength of SPG, which today drives more than 50% of the company’s occupancy and continues to shift consumer business to Starwood hotels. “The work that we’ve done to make SPG the richest elite program in the industry has proven that we can create true and lasting loyalty with our most profitable guests and shift share of wallet to our hotels,” said van Paasschen. “With SPG Pro, we’re focusing our powerful loyalty lens on B2B to cultivate ever stronger and more personal relationships with our […]

Hilton HHonors is offering bonus miles for Delta SkyMiles member stays in Hawaii between August 25 to January 3, 2015 SkyMiles members earn 1,000 bonus miles per night for stays of 3 nights or longer. You can register for this promotion on Hilton’s website here. Note that you must have Hilton Double Dip option set to Points + Miles and have Delta SkyMiles designated as the preferred partner. Here are the participating properties: Oahu Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort DoubleTree by Hilton Alana Waikiki Hilton Waikiki Beach Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club Grand Waikikian Suites by Hilton Grand Vacations Hawaii Hilton Waikoloa Village Kings’ Land by Hilton Grand Vacations Maui Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Ho’olei at Grand Wailea Conclusion I would likely choose Points + Points if the daily rate and qualified other spend (F&B) is high, as you forgo 5 additional Hilton HHonors points per USD by choosing Points + Miles option. So, you must choose flat 1,000 Delta miles per night OR an additional 5 Hilton HHonors points per total qualified USD spend. Here are the terms and conditions of this offer: To be eligible for this offer you must (1) be a member of both Hilton HHonors and Delta SkyMiles® reward programs; (2) select Delta Air Lines as your preferred Double Dip™ earnings partner in your Hilton HHonors account profile; (3) register atHHonors.com/Delta1kBonus prior to hotel check-in; and (4) complete a minimum three-night consecutive stay at a participating Hilton Portfolio hotel in Hawaii from August 25, 2014 to January 31, 2015 (“Promotion Period”). Registered HHonors members meeting the conditions set forth above will receive 1,000 bonus miles for each night of a qualifying stay completed during the Promotion Period, regardless of a check-in date before the Promotion Period begins or a check-out date after the Promotion Period ends. Bonus miles are not eligible to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles.®  Please allow up to six weeks after the promotion has ended for bonus miles to be credited to your SkyMiles account. All SkyMiles program rules apply. To review the rules, please see www.delta.com/memberguide.  For details on the […]

IHG Rewards Club has now enabled the registration for it’s “Into The Nights” promotion that is valid for stays between September 4 and December 31, 2014. Exactly like the previous two Big Win-promotions, IHG has a personalized offer for your account based on your previous stay history. The difference is that you can now choose between 2 free nights or bonus points for reaching the goal. The registration is now open at this IHG web address. The previous ones that IHG gave us are still not resolving correctly. EDIT: Seems that the registration is not yet working for all. If this is the case, please try again later today. The form doesn’t allow you to sign up for an account and register it for the promo at the same time, as the country field that is required is missing from the form. Please post your personalized offer below (preferably a screenshot), your IHG Rewards Club status (Club, Gold, Platinum, Gold Ambassador, Platinum Ambassador or Royal Ambassador) and the number of qualified nights this year. Royal Ambassador with more than 50 qualified nights this year: This is is actually my personal offer. After completing 6 of the 7 hurdles, I could choose between 17,000 additional bonus points or 2 free nights. Here are additional offers from friends & family members Royal Ambassador with 3 stays this year: The bonus points versus 2 free nights ratio is more reasonable here. 42,000 bonus points for completing all the hurdles or 2 free nights. Platinum member with one stay this year: This would be an easy way to get the 2 free nights. You could complete it with just 3 stays. Gold member with no stays this year: This member could get two free nights by staying at two different Indigo hotels internationally. Club member with no stays this year: Two Holiday Inn stays both on Saturday would yield the two free nights. Not Bad! Conclusion As was the case with the previous Big Wins, the fewer stays you have had the easier the hurdles are. Those that got targeted for two free nights for just […]

If someone had said to me that I would see these “knuckle busters” from 1980′s during my trip to Latin America, I would have just laughed in his/her face. But I would have been wrong and was next expecting to be asked for a Chargex or MasterCharge card (1970′s precursors to Visa and MasterCard). Quite frankly, I really don’t understand the purpose of using these machines and what for in Colombia and Panama. Merchants should only have these available just in case their modern swipe machines are out of service. Here are three archaic hotel policies from Colombia and Panama that I don’t get: 1. The agent swipes the card using this “knuckle buster” and asks me to sign a blank slip. I refuse. I explain that I wouldn’t sign a blank check and they shouldn’t either. 2. Agent authorizes the card for xyz amount and asks me to sign the authorization slip. I refuse. They can authorize the card for whatever amount they see fit, but I won’t sign the slip before I actually check out. 3. Hotel has very long “hotel rules & regulations” using extremely tiny font in Spanish on the registration sheet that I am expected to sign. When I request an English version of this text, they don’t have it available. I just put huge Z over it before signing. Conclusion Having these carbon copies of our credit cards laying around at hotels when they likely have your billing address info as well, is probably not the wisest idea. Although in most cases the maximum liability for unauthorized use by a third party is only $50. Why would I sign a blank credit card slip and allow the hotel to charge whatever they wish? What is the purpose of having hotel “rules and regulations” only in Spanish when a property is part of an international chain? Why on earth anyone would be required to sign a credit card authorization slip? None of these make any sense for me, but have now happened at more than one hotel.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is now promoting Food and Beverage sales at more than 1,000 participating restaurants and bars. You earn triple Starpoints for F&B purchase of $50 before taxes between September 1 and December 30, 2014, Monday to Thursday (weekends excluded). The registration this offer closes on November 30. You can access and register for this SPG offer here. Note that this offer applies to both guests that are staying and those that visit the participating F&B outlets. If you are staying at the hotel, remember to charge the bill to your folio. Those that are not staying, remember to show your SPG card and get the credit card looking slip that the waiter should give you. The triple points means that you earn 4 additional Starpoint per USD charged in addition to the base 2 points that you usually earn. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are excluded. Remember to check the participating outlets on SPG’s website here. Conclusion I have had very bad track record of getting these F&B spend to post to my account if I am not staying at the hotel and charge it to my folio. Apparently, they have to manually enter these to the system SPG uses and these slips are often lost along the way. Here are the terms and conditions of this offer: Weekday dining now comes with a triple helping of Starpoints. Offer: Register and dine with us Mondays through Thursdays until 30 December, 2014 and earn triple Starpoints® on eligible spend of US$50 or above. Terms & Conditions: The SPG® Triple Crave (the “Offer”) is valid at over 1,000 participating restaurants and bars at participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Applicable on both stay and non-stay transactions. Offer is valid from September 01, 2014 to December 30, 2014 on dining Mondays through Thursdays. Registration period: September 01, 2014 to November 30, 2014 Earning period: September 01, 2014 to December 30, 2014. Offer is valid for Starwood Preferred Guest Members making eligible food and beverage purchases* of USD 50 or above (after discount where applicable, and excluding taxes and gratuities) at participating restaurants and […]

Now that the Japan & Korea Flash Sale is going on (read morehere), Hilton is about to launch 50% off 5-Day Flash Sale for Thailand. This sale goes live on September 9 and ends on 13th for stays until December 31, 2014. You can access Hilton’s website for this sale here. Here’s copy of the examples on the email that Hilton sent about this sale: Here are the participating properties: Conclusion We have to wait until next week to see if the rates offered during this sale are competitive with the regular discounts offered by these same hotels. The prices in Thailand tend to be already ultra competitive. Conclusion Offer valid at 11 participating properties in Thailand for stays booked 9 September, 2014, 12:01a.m. GMT+7 and 13 September, 2014, 11:59p.m. GMT+7, and completed by 31 December, 2014. Blackout dates and length of stay restrictions may apply based upon which day of the week arrival occurs, geographical location of hotel, or by brand. Offer is subject to availability. Rates are valid for single occupancy and are exclusive of all taxes, incidental charges, gratuities, and resort fees where applicable. Full non-refundable prepayment required at time of booking. Your credit card will be charged immediately for the total amount quoted for the entire stay as reserved and refunds or credits will not be issued unless otherwise indicated by local law. Charges cannot be applied to other stays, services or merchandise. Booking cannot be changed. This offer may not be combined with other select promotions, offer or discounts and is not valid for existing reservations or groups. Offer components are non-transferrable or redeemable for cash, and cannot be used during future stays. To view list of participating properties and make booking, please view a global list of Hilton Worldwide Reservation centers or visit en.hiltonhoteldeals.com/discoverthailand. If you are making this reservation by phone, please request Plan Code “PR50TS” or the “Discover Thailand 50% Time Sale” package.Hilton HHonors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™ and redemption of Points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions. Visit HHonors.com/Terms

Last year, SPG combined Starpicks and Beat The Timer for Hot Escapes. Now that the program is established, I will have a weekly post on Wednesdays about the current offerings. This is still work in progress. We try to find a better way to present the availability and pricing in the coming weeks in compact format. The hotel listing has the lowest member prices for the next 6 weeks. The availability and the price can vary from date to date. You can access SPG’s Hot Escapes website here. SPG Hot Escapes September 3-6, 2014 for the next 6 weeks. Note that the dates with Hot Escapes availability varies by the property. You can access the availability grid on the SPG Hot Escapes website. The prices below are the lowest prices offered at the each property during the promotional period BEFORE the additional 5% discount for SPG members. Middle East & Africa Egypt Le Meridien Dahab Resort – $72 Israel Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel – $204 Nigeria Four Points by Sheraton Lagos – $201 United Arab Emirates Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort – $75 Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre – $92 Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai – $51 The St. Regis Abu Dhabi – $145 Le Meridien Fairway – $54 Sheraton Deira Hotel, Dubai – $71 Asia Pacific Australia Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort – $163 Sheraton Melbourne Hotel – $206 China The Astor Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Tianjin – $110 Sheraton Shanghai Pudong Hotel & Residences – $169 Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou Hotel – $127 Sheraton Shenyang South City Hotel – $56 W Guangzhou – $234 Sheraton Bailuhu Resort, Huizhou – $88 Le Meridien Qingdao – $117 The Westin Shenzhen Nanshan – $156 Sheraton Shanghai Waigaoqiao Hotel – $71 Four Points by Sheraton Lhasa – $140 The Westin Xian – $136 The Westin Wuhan Wuchang – $114 Sheraton Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort – $169 Four Points by Sheraton Hefei, Shushan – $65 Sheraton Changsha Hotel – $144 Sheraton Haikou Resort – $103 Fiji Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island, Fiji – $188 India Le Royal Meridien Chennai – $92 Le Meridien Coimbatore – $76 Le Meridien Kochi – $60 Indonesia Le Meridien Jakarta – $108 Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort – $155 Japan The St. Regis Osaka – $190 Korea W Seoul – […]

Hilton HHonors has launched a new promo for weekend night stays with Lufthansa’s Miles&More. You can earn 1,500 bonus miles for each weekend night (Friday, Saturday + Sunday) between September 1 – December 15, 2014. The bonus is 500 miles per night at Hilton’s Hampton Inn & Homewood Suites brands. You can access and register for this offer on Hilton’s website here. These miles are in addition to the 1 mile per USD that you normally earn when double dipping with Miles&More. Note that you must have Hilton HHonors Double Dip preference set to Points + Miles and have Lufthansa Miles&More selected as the preferred partner. Conclusion Thing to note here is that this bonus is PER weekend night and not per stay. You will earn 4,500 bonus miles for 3 night weekend stay without having to check out and check in to another Hilton family of hotel. This is a nice sweetener for Hilton weekend stays for those that collect Lufthansa Miles&More miles. Here are the terms and conditions of this promotion: To be eligible for this offer, you must (1) be a member of Hilton HHonors; (2) select Lufthansa Miles & More as preferred Double Dip Partner in your Hilton HHonors account profile, (3) select Points & Miles as your Double Dip Earning Style option, (4) register online atwww.hiltonhhonors.com/milesandmoreweekend prior to completing your stay; and (5) complete an eligible weekend night stay at participating hotels from the Hilton Portfolio from 1st September 2014 through 15th December 2014 (“Promotional Period”). Bonus Miles & More Award Miles: Members will earn 1 base Miles & More Award mile for each 1 USD spent on eligible stays. Additionally members will earn 1,500 bonus Miles & More Award miles for each weekend night at participating properties (500 bonus miles for Hampton by Hilton and Homewood Suites). Bonus miles will not be awarded under this offer for weekend nights completed prior to registration for this offer. A “stay” is defined as the total number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotels, whether or not a guest checks out and checks in again. A “weekend night” […]