I’ve been critical of Club Carlson for a long time. No program can be so generous — huge bonus point promotions, easy elite status, redeem-one-get-one-free, 50-75% bonus points on every stay on top of 20 points per dollar — and expect to remain profitable. My assumption has been that they are using the loyalty program as a marketing tool in lieu of traditional advertising. But regardless of the reason it was still like handing out crack to school children. One day you’ll have to ask those kids to start paying up.
I first noticed Travel Summary’s post mentioning the changes, some of which take effect on March 15
and others on May 1 [apparently all changes have been updated to take effect on March 15]. Like the recent changes to Hyatt Gold Passport, there will be a new Category 7 that costs 70,000 points per night instead of the former 50,000 points. To all of those who moaned about the 30-something percent increase in the new Hyatt Category 7 properties, I’m curious about your reaction to a 40% increase with Club Carlson. I think the Hyatt hotels deserved their category increase, which was long overdue. But I’ve never met a Club Carlson hotel I’ve fallen in love with.
New Category 7 Properties
These are the new Category 7 properties, which will cost 70,000 points per night for stays booked on or after May 1:
- Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel, Paris Trocadero
- Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel, Paris Eiffel
- Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees, Paris
- Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes
- Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai
- The May Fair
- Plaza on the River, London
- art’otel, Amsterdam
- Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow
Other hotels will also be changing categories. At least the Radisson Blue Chicago isn’t on there. I was hoping to stay there on my next visit to the city.
Other negative changes include reductions in the bonus points for Gold and Silver members effective March 15. Gold members will see a reduction from 50% to 35% bonus points, and Silver members will see a reduction from 25% to 15% bonus points. Why the drop? Probably because they were being too generous to those who were getting status just with a credit card. Concierge members will still receive a 75% bonus, but their dedicated 24/7 phone support will be terminated on March 1.
Any good news? Not really
Food and beverage purchases now earn points, and points can be redeemed for premium rooms. But these are features already present in most loyalty programs. I view them as a sign of catching up with the competition, not improvement.
Another interesting feature is that award stays will now earn credit toward elite status. This makes Club Carlson the third such program to make this move, after Starwood and Hilton, though it doesn’t have quite the same significance because few people will earn Concierge status (75 nights) and most people can get Gold status for free with a credit card.
Maybe I missed my chance to pig out at the Club Carlson trough, but I don’t feel that way. I am surprised that these changes aren’t more significant, perhaps adding a Category 8, as well.
For those who are still interested, the Club Carlson credit card remains the way to go with an offer for 85,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 and the ability to earn 5 points per dollar on most purchases. Spend $3,000 and you can earn a total of 100,000 points, enough for two nights or more at hotels up to Category 6. The credit card also gets you get complimentary Gold status and a free night when you book a stay of two nights or more using points (that potentially means 4 free nights for $3,000 in spend). Check out Amol’s post for more tips on how to successfully apply for the Club Carlson Visa and an application link.