Tourism services are shifting. Booking a hotel used to be quite simple, just a phone call. Online options have complicated everything! You can use one of the leading tourism operators: Priceline, Booking or Expedia, or you can go directly to the hotel website. Nowadays, each hotel chain has a site and runs a “loyalty club.” The consumer collects points for each stay and can use them for discounts, free nights and other treats. The points system creates a consumer loyalty to the network since he must collect a minimum number of points to gain the benefits. The same method works for the big tourism companies. For example, Hotels awards its customers with a free night, for every ten nights booked, at an average cost of those. I testify that the method works and I have already used three bonus days.
Thus, a competition was created between hotel chains and tourism agents. They understood that the discount should be given directly to the traveler instead of to the tourism suppliers. The “discount” for a tourist does not have to be money, but “treats” which are cheaper to the hotels. For example, a free internet connection, early check-in or late check-out, room upgrade, free parking and other discounts up to a free night (just like the tourist agents).
So far it sounds enjoyable, and it works fine. For instance, Radisson chain belongs to the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which has: Quorums Collection, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn Country Inns & Suites. All belong to the Club Carlson loyalty club, where we have already received three free nights and upgrades. The problem lies in the fact that each chain has its customer club.
To get the best offer at the best price, you need to be a member of endless loyalty clubs. You have to remember all your subscriptions: club’s name, participating hotels in this group, member number, and password! The condition for receiving points or any benefits is to order directly from their website, through your account, and not through any tourism provider. Therefore, you need to compare prices between the club’s site and the tourism providers. Hence, reserving a room turns into a time-consuming activity. And the unpleasant part is – every club and tourism site send a commercial email with different offers at least once a month, sometimes even every day!
This situation is familiar from the “Frequent Flyer” programs of flight companies. They were the first to create loyalty clubs, which hand out points that can be converted into money for the purchase of other flights and other tourist’s services (hotels, car rental, entrance fees, etc.). One of the benefits that travelers particularly like is the right to enter the lounge in the airport, which serve light meals, hot and cold drinks. The places are stylish with spacious armchairs, up-to-date newspapers, computers and free internet services. In addition to club members’ points, Frequent Fliers collect additional points that grant a status (blue, ruby, silver, gold and platinum) which allows for benefits of airport services and flight upgrades up to a free flight (See one of Heathrow Airport lounges in London below).
Over time, flight companies succeeded in uniting under large, shared clubs, which somewhat simplify the use. There are three considerable alliances of airlines today. “Star Alliance” is a consortium of 28 carriers, including United, Turkic Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss and Air Canada. British Airways, American Airlines, Royal Jordanian and other 15 companies created “One World.” And the third is “Sky Team,” which includes companies such as KLM, Air France, Alitalia, a total of 20 companies. Membership in all the clubs (except EL AL Frequent Flyer club, Darling) is free.
And not only hotels and flights need to be checked! When traveling out of town independently, for a trip to the country and not just in the city, you need to rent a car. Since in Israel everything is costly I went to the American website. I used the US Avis website to rent a car. I have entered all the details, dates, time of return of the vehicle, type of vehicle, and citizenship. The offer I received started at $ 1,127. I tried Avis site in Israel (available for incoming tourist customers in English) and entered the same details. I left both websites open before my eyes so I could see the difference. On the Israeli site, I got a 763$ offer. No, I have not changed anything, both orders are the same, and I have not used any discount code. Just like that – Avis Israel is cheaper by 33%.
The last word – It is best to be “persistent” whether with an airline company or a hotel chain. Thus, you accumulate enough points to enjoy them!