Club Carlson’s Latest Stealth Devaluation

Club Carlson used to be one of my favorite hotel loyalty programs. On the earning side, they used to run some killer promotions  that were totally mattress runnable. The best of those awarded 50,000 Carlson points for one a night stay at a Radisson hotel, basically enough points for a night anywhere in the world.

On the burning side, you could get a free award night on every redemption, so long as you had the Club Carlson credit card. This amounted to BOGO award nights and effectively doubled the value of your points.

Those days are long gone, however. And Club Carlson recently devalued their loyalty program even further by taking away a somewhat obscure but valuable benefit for Carlson Gold and Concierge members.

RadissonBluOsloAirport0001
Radisson Blu Oslo Airport

The end of weekend discount rates for elites

Club Carlson recently discontinued 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 weekend rates without any notice.

Now, these had been only available to Gold  and Concierge members at select properties in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. But they were a real deal — you could book what amounted to the prevailing rate and, if you were staying two or four days over a weekend, get half off. In other words, they represented real savings for a lot of travelers. Availability on these rates was also pretty good, in my experience.

I used these rates a fair number of times, most recently for a trip to Helsinki at the Radisson Blu Plaza. I also considered using them for our recent trip to Oslo, and probably would have, except that the Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion and Hotel Folketeateret offer dinner and breakfast whereas the Carlson properties only offered breakfast. And we ended up only needing one night each at the Park Inn Oslo Airport and the Radisson Blu Oslo Airport.

radisson blu waterfront stockholm
Radisson Blu Waterfront Stockholm

Devaluations with no warning suck

The part that made this devaluation really irritating was that Carlson didn’t announce it. They just pulled the rates from their website one day. So those that might have been planning to use them for an upcoming stay, but hadn’t yet booked, got the carpet yanked out from under them.

Carlson later claimed on their Facebook page that they discontinued these rates because they were rarely used.

Thank you for voicing your concern in regards to us ending our Elite Member weekend extend promotion 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 recently. This was a targeted offer for our Elite members only and not part of the benefits. Club Carlson has many different member only promotions available at select participating hotels. As we endeavor to keep our offers simple and relevant, we noticed that these offers were underutilized. Please make sure you visit our special member only promotions page frequently as we continue to enhance and look to add value for our members .

While that may be true, it’s still a ridiculous argument. If an airline operates a club, and nobody uses it, then sure, close it to save the operating cost. But how much does it cost to maintain a rate in the backend database of their reservation?

Exactly.

To be fair, they say they are planning to roll out some new offers and promotions. Maybe there will be a decent replacement?

Bottom Line

The Club Carlson EMEA 4-for-2 and 2-for-1 rates have been discontinued with no notice. Many of you will probably not care, but for a few, this is a loss of hundreds of dollars of savings per year. Since these rates were only available to Gold and Concierge members, this only hurts Club Carlson’s most loyal customers which makes little sense.

That said, I still like Club Carlson as a backup hotel program — and find value in having the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card just for perks of Gold status — but this does remind us not to take anything for granted.

Tip of the hat to Seth

Comments

  1. Well Travis, you supported Barack Insane Obama and Crooked Hillary Clinton. Their vermin are in these hotel-chain executive boardrooms—you get what you deserve then.

  2. Every post I read on OMAAT these days has some vitriolic attack on Hillary Clinton. Why is that? That doesn’t make any sense.

  3. A few times when I tried using those rates in Iceland, Belgium and Netherlands – it was never available.

  4. For some reason OMAAT attracts a lot of partisan trolls. I have to say it is quite entertaining to read the comments on OMAAT blog posts, although really, they dont make sense sometimes (or most of the times).

  5. Meanwhile, if we can clear out the politics and get back to POINTS and TRAVEL — Travis, how can I best get rid of my Carlson points before abandoning the whole program? Thanks!

  6. Club Carlson always does things unannounced, a few years ago they cut the air mile redemption rates by like 80%. Or introducing the 70,000+ point properties. Or axing the free night with point redemption on the US Bank card.

    These 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 rates were one of the reasons I kept gold status, even after moving to the states since I go to Europe a few times a year. There’s really no reason to keep the program anymore, their hotels in the US are terrible.

  7. If it wasn’t for Choice and Wyndham, Club Carlson would be at the bottom. As much as I really like Club Carlson they need to up the game a bit. They need more Blu hotels in North America for example.

  8. This is old. Other bloggers have talked about this for a while. Was this not focused earlier because no cards to push here?

  9. Stephen — Actually the end of the free award night on award was announced FAR in advance. It was a benefit of having the credit card, so they had to follow regulations.

  10. My main concern is how much longer the Club Carlson program will be around. After the demise of BOGO, I kept both my personal and business credit cards, and spent $10,000/yr on each one for the US free night certs. This year, I stopped spending on the cards – decided there were safer places to put the spend. I’m still keeping the cards, since the 40,000 points/year are worth more than the annual fee, and there are still some good redemption values in the program, especially in London.

  11. I got a ton of value out of my Club Carlson points over the years, especially when they had the 2 for 1 nights on points. I still had over 400,000 points in my account the other day. I like to use them for Country Inn properties in some cities, I just scheduled Nashville. And I’ll use for another trip to Hartford at a Radisson. There is a great property in Cebu, Philippines I have used them at and in Europe, from time to time you find a good use as well. Hey, I’ll spend them. But, I agree, they are not my go to program and never have been….but for free……they are fine.

  12. I plan on using 350,000 points in Norway. That said, Carlson’s promos have been under-whelming lately. With so few properties stateside, it’s difficult to capitalized on any promos anyway. I can’t find the value in paying the $75 AF with fewer and fewer benefits.
    I’ll move my remaining 50K points to my wife’s account before I close mine.

  13. As others have commented, this discount was the most valuable remaining reason to keep the Club Carlson Visa card and prioritize their hotels, after the points were so drastically devalued. I’m hoping Club Carlson will offer a new Gold-status discount: 3 nights for the price of 2. With so many US-based travelers holding the Citi Prestige MasterCard, Club Carlson would likely see a substantial increase in 4-night bookings, with 3 of those nights being paid to their member hotels. If a 3-for-2 discount was widely available at all of their hotels, Club Carlson hotels could leap back into the forefront of hotels to consider when planning trips to Europe, Asia and Africa.

  14. The Carlson statement that it was “a promotion, not a benefit” is nonsense. It was a published Gold benefit on the Rezidor web site. I mailed it into customer service and ask for feedback, they actually said it’s still a benefit – which of course is false. Clearly, Marketing, IT and Customer Service are not talking to each other.
    With the NH head taking over at Carlson, the future for Club Carlson is bleak: NH has a ho-hum, revenue based rewards program. I’m burning my remaining points as soon as I can…

  15. so much for the last promotion. I signed up for 8 nights for 50,000 points. I was planning on redeeming those points for 6 nights at Park Inn Clark. Now it is only good for 3 nights. The sad part is that the earning promotion is 2/3 past and I have almost met the requirements. Sad !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *