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We have been sifting through the hallowed InsideFlyer archives to take a look at how airline and hotel loyalty programmes have changed over the decades. Was there ever really a ‘golden age’ for points/miles collectors – and did they know it at the time?
Starwood Preferred Guest ‘Free Weekends Worldwide’ (AKA: When Promotions Were AWESOME!)
These days it’s sometimes difficult to get excited about hotel loyalty programme promotions. Things like double points or an extra 1,000 points per night are fine, but they don’t exactly set the heart racing and the imagination running…
Back in 2002 (admittedly predominantly in the USA), things were a little different. Starwood Preferred Guest (now absorbed by Marriott) was at the cutting edge of the loyalty game – and those guys knew how to pitch a promotion:
“Free Weekends Worldwide is back again and this time there is no need to pay with an American Express card. Preferred Guest members who stay 10 nights within the next four months will get two free Fridays and two free Saturdays — for a grand total of two free weekends.
Stay five nights between March 1 and June 30 at any of 750 hotels around the world and earn two free Friday nights. With five more nights in the same time period, members will earn two free Saturdays. Members who book their stays online will receive 500 bonus points.
The stays can be redeemed at participating Starwood properties worldwide between April 1 and Aug. 31. Free Weekends Worldwide awards are non-transferable and must be used by the qualifying member. The awards are also subject to the availability of standard guestrooms.”
Yep, that’s right. 10 nights at a cheap Four Points could snag you 4 free nights (2 weekends) at an iconic top category 5* St.Regis, for example.
Like the wider economy, the travel industry is generally cyclical. Sadly, we are unlikely to see promotions quite as generous as SPG’s Free Weekends Worldwide until the hotel chains are desperate to encourage people to travel.
Hopefully, we’ll see something a bit more exciting than ‘double points’ at some point sooner though!
Do you remember Free Weekends Worldwide? – How many free night certificates did you manage to collect?