Back at the end of 2011, Club Carlson was running an outstanding promotion with 50,000 bonus points for a single Radisson stay, that basically meant making one cheap stay (I did mine at Washington’s National airport during true low season to get a cheap rate) would yield enough points to stay at any of their top tier properties in the world for a night.
Most Radissons in the U.S. aren’t especially nice or aspirational, though the Radisson Blu chain is changing that, and there are also tons of better (and more expensive!) properties abroad. So a great promotion.
While available registrations for it were capped, and I expected it to go quickly, it didn’t. They presumably impose a cap to generate excitement (It’s limited! Act now!) as well as to place a cap on their potential exposure for budget reasons. But there just aren’t that many Club Carlson members, so while I got around to playing quite late it wasn’t a problem.
They’re bringing back the promotion but imposing a few restrictions, like that you have to check-in in person (no getting your friends to do it, or doing it for 15 of your friends at once at a cheap location near your home). And they’re even saying you have to check out in person though don’t imagine that’ll be enforced. Basically they know the promotion is really lucrative, they want to limit the ability to game it. Towards the end of the last one they started warning hotels not to allow mass check-ins or check-ins for guests that weren’t personally present.
This time they have a version of the promotion for 3 of their brands, which increases the possibility of earning lots of bonus points for some. Of course some of their brands have fewer properties than others making it a bit harder to make a stay in person just for the bonus:
- 50,000 Club Carlson bonus points for a single Radisson stay. Register starting May 15, and then stay by July 15. Open to the first 100,000 registrants. (Later registrants will only get 15,000 bonus points.)
- 44,000 Club Carlson bonus points for a single Country Inns & Suites stay. Register starting May 15, and then stay by July 15. Open to the first 35,000 registrants. (Later registrants will only get 15,000 bonus points.)
- 44,000 Club Carlson bonus points for a single Park Inn stay. Register starting May 22, and then stay by July 22. Open to the first 20,000 registrants. (Later registrants will only get 15,000 bonus points.)
Check out the list of Park Inn hotels, there’s only about 10 in the U.S. I might be able to pop over to the one at DFW airport during a long layover for my check-in. But the terms and conditions do say you’re supposed to both check in and check out in person, I’m unlikely to do this.
There are plenty more Country Inns & Suites, for me the most convenient is probably the Dulles airport property though there are two that are closer than that to home. Again the challenge is whether it’s worth paying for the room night and potentially having to make two trips to the property, check-in and check-out, though in practice I’m guessing that the check-out requirement won’t actually be enforced.
I’ll at the very least make a stay at the Radisson near Washington National airport. In fact I already made a reservation there. The terms and conditions for the promotion that were leaked early and then pulled said that existing reservations would not count for the promotion, then on the chain’s Facebook page they said that those stays would, but then pulled that answer off their Facebook page. Assuming the low rate I secured is still around in a few days I will cancel and rebook just to be safe.
Last time around, cash and points award reservations counted towards the promotion since the cash portion earned points. The friends and family rate doesn’t earn points so didn’t work in most cases.
If you’re not already a Club Carlson member you can join and earn 2000 bonus points on your first stay (HT: miles and smiles on Milepoint.)
Mommy Points notes that Club Carlson will status match (which earns a 50% bonus on points earned for your room rate at the Gold level), email a screen shot of your current hotel status to firstname.lastname@example.org, include your Club Carlson number in the email, to request the match.
In addition to the booking bonus, potential first stay bonus, and elite spend bonus, there’s the online booking bonus. Base members earn 1000 bonus points for online booking, Silver and Gold members receive 2000 points, and top tier Concierge members receive 3000 bonus points per stay for online booking.
Frequent Miler points out that if you sign up for Club Carlson’s business program then you’ll earn an extra 10 points for dollar for every reservation booked online and linked to your business account.
He also points out that TopCashBack provides 5% rebates on Radisson stays (and also Country Inn stays), if you click through to Radisson and then go from there to Park Inn properties you should get the rebate as well.
There are several other rebate options, such as 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar as well as 5% back with Mr. Rebates, and 3.5% back with both Big Crumbs and Ebates.
This promotion is well worth it to me on the basis of “buy one cheap night get an aspirational, expensive night” but in a worst case scenario and if I wasn’t going to use the points for high-end Radisson stays, it would be worthwhile just to be able to transfer the points to miles. 50,000 Club Carlson points yields 8000 miles with your choice of 20 airline partners. I’ll probably ultimately transfer 2000 Club Carlson points into 250 US Airways miles during the Grand Slam promotion come the fall.