People everywhere want to know how they can save money and still take the trips that they want to take. Hotels and resorts help to lure you into planning and taking more trips with the use of loyalty cards and programs. These programs promise that you can earn discounted rates and free stays in hotels around the world when you travel. Before you plan your trip around the hotels that take part in one of these programs, you need to understand how the programs work and if you really can save money.
Types of Loyalty Programs
There are two primary forms of loyalty programs. The first is a program that only works within a certain chain or franchise, and the other program has partnerships in place with other travel companies. You earn a certain number of points for each night that you stay in the hotel, which you can trade in for free nights. If you enroll in a partnership program, you earn points every time that you book a flight, rent a car or purchase tickets to a certain attraction.
How it Works
Travel loyalty programs rely on a points system. Though you do earn points for each night that you stay in a hotel, you might find that the chain determines the number of points based on both when and where you stay. Spending a weekend in an expensive hotel in a popular resort hotel will earn you more points than if you stayed in a smaller hotel on a weeknight in your own city. You may also receive points when you book other arrangements with partner companies, but you'll typically earn less points that you would staying in one of the chain's hotels.
Can You Really Save?
While you can save when you become a member of a travel loyalty club, you typically won't save nearly as much as you might hope. It can take several weeks of staying in a hotel before you earn a single free night, and most clubs have blackout dates. You cannot use your free nights on any blackout date. Blackout dates typically include holidays, dates on or around popular events and some weekends. Some loyalty clubs offer additional discounts, but other clubs require that you pay full price for your rooms to earn any points.
Enrolling in a travel loyalty club isn't the only way that you can save on your travel arrangements. Booking a package vacation is one option. A package vacation usually includes transportation to your destination, a hotel room and even tickets to popular attractions. Another option is a resort vacation. For example, a Bluegreen Resorts vacation offers more amenities and activities than most hotels do. You might have access to a state of the art fitness center with personal trainers and classes available, a day spa, hiking, tours of wild animal centers and other activities that will keep your whole family entertained.
Travel loyalty clubs have a number of benefits for frequent travelers. If you only travel a few times a year for work or pleasure, you might find that these programs offer few benefits for you and that you would do better with a travel package or a resort vacation.