Club Carlson launches today with Stay 2 Earn 1 Free Night promotion

Replacing the GoldPoints Plus hotel loyalty program, the Carlson line of hotels (Radisson, Park Inn, Country Inn & Suites, and Park Plaza), officially launched Club Carlson today. Supporting the re-branding, and likely their entry into the quarterly promotions most other hotel loyalty programs already provide, they are offering a “Stay Twice, Earn a Free Night” promotion. Registration is required, and the two stays are necessary between April 15 and June 15, 2011, with the free night redemption required by December 31, 2011.

Newly introduced is a Concierge elite level with generous 75% point bonuses, a 3,000 point bonus for online reservations, free continental breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, and hints at a “Concierge Service” to begin mid-2011. To achieve the top spot requires 30 stays per year, or 75 nights total. Silver and Gold status remain the same as before at 10 stays (15 nights) and 20 stays (35 nights), respectively.

New benefits include earning point for food & beverage (U.S. properties previously didn’t grant points for charging F&B to your room), and elite rollover nights to carry forward “unused” nights into the next year’s race to status. As a Silver, you also now qualify for early check-in (up to two hours), which was previously only a Gold benefit. Late check-out remains a perk for all elites as it did previously.

The biggest change comes to their reshuffling of properties in the respective categories. Category 1 now only has 24 U.S. properties, although the free nights here have been reduced to 9,000 points from 15,000. Many properties have shifted a category or two up, such as the Radisson Los Angeles Airport went from Category 2 (25,000 points for a free night) to a Category 4 (38,000 points). The Loyalty Traveler provides an excellent summary of the category shifts & related dilution in many of the tiers.

I believe the changes to the program are bringing the Carlson hotels more in line with the other major chains, although the brand still lacks some perks found at the others, such as suite upgrades & lounge offerings. The Radisson Blu hotels are a strong offering in Europe, and this is where I see the program excelling. Here in the United States, I’m not so certain this program or the hotels are a good value proposition for frequent business travelers. Although I began my hotel loyalty addiction with Radisson whose price-points are generally in line with my budget, I have since started gaining status with Hilton, and will likely continue my loyalty there.

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