Club Carlson cuts arguably the last remaining valuable offer it had


When the Club Carlson program cut the “last night free” promotion for co-branded credit card holders that was a pretty big hit to the value proposition the hotel loyalty scheme offered. And redemption rate increases over the years didn’t help much. But there was one solid benefit that still made some stays a compelling choice. Now that’s gone, too.

The program offers a 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 promotion when booking weekend stays at many EMEA locations. It was not always available and not always the greatest rate but there were a number of instances where it worked really well. I know I got some value out of it and I imagine many who live and travel more in Europe did even better by it than I did. The company quietly pulled the promotion recently and it is not coming back.

In a comment on Facebook the company explained that the promotion was dropped due to lack of use:

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.

Yes, it was limited only to elite members. No, it was not formally listed as a part of the program benefits. Yes, dropping it is completely reasonable for the company to do if it so chooses.

But it still stinks for elite members to have that go away.

I’ve never been a particularly strong fan of hotel loyalty programs for personal travel. This is all part of that reasoning.

Is there anything still worth collecting Club Carlson points for?

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

12 Comments

  1. Depends on what you mean by “collecting.” I don’t go out of my way to earn them. But I do accumulate them, and they were hugely useful even without 241 or 442 deals during our two-week European trip a while back. Looking to use them in India later this year.

    I think you should be asking, is *status* with them worth pursuing outside what holding their cards gives you? Which you already say isn’t a strong motivator for you, but may be for others who can regularly choose their hotel brands.

    1. I don’t think that’s too much a factor. Changes like this come all the time.

      The interesting part to me is the “no one uses it so we should cut it” line that gets used so often. On the one hand there are the soft costs associated with carrying the benefit and making sure the systems can support something that is rarely used. It might not cost much in that sense but every penny counts.

      The more cynical me sees things like this as the company noticing programs/benefits used rarely but frequently by small groups of “super users.” And when those become the primary or even the only users then they are exposed “sweet spots” in the programs to be cut. And the potential savings is more significant.

  2. @Matt Lindenberg — great perception, but the promotion end does not correlate to the Rezidor piece of things. The promotion was very segmented and was also underutilized. We are working to ensure that Club Carlson’s offers and promotions are simple and relevant to our members. Continue to check for the latest at ClubCarlson.com in our offers section.

  3. free night for renewal and free night after spending 10k a year…so 2 free nights for having the USB CCarlson card? and for what, $59? 5x points on every dollar you spend and easy to MS. I don’t see what’s wrong with that?

    1. MS is not free, either in cash, time or opportunity cost. And the limited hotel portfolio on offer makes me generally shy away from such speculative moves.

  4. I think it’s still worth it to renew Club Carlson credit card for 40,000 points. In fact, I just did. For $75 you can get enough points for two nights at a category 2 hotel (almost enough for three, actually). Obviously, most of those properties are basic, but they are good enough for an airport stay etc. Sure, not everyone is OK with quality of their hotels. And I agree with you, the footprint stinks, but I’m still willing to “invest” in Club Carlson at this price. But accumulating points via everyday spending? No way.

  5. Most Carlson’s are crap, so no loss. SO and I have a half million Carlson points from various CC signups for several years and not once has Carlson had a decent property where we’ve wanted to stay. I don’t travel much in Europe and the domestic offerings are a sorry choice of flea-ridden down market properties that I’d only let relatives stay in…

  6. Carlson keeps claiming “the promotion ended” – that’s nonsense. It was listed as Gold benefit. ClubC even confirmed via email to me that it STILL part of benefits, which obviously is false…
    Bottom line, Club Carlson cut a core Gold benefit without notice and without anything to replace it. Poor form and serious devaluation of Gold Status:
    As a Gold Elite member, you will get the following benefits:
    35% bonus Gold Points® on top of what you would normally earn
    A guaranteed room availability with bookings up to 72 hours in advance
    A 15% discount at our all-day dining restaurants
    Weekend Extend offer: up to 2 weekend nights free when staying during the week
    Early check-in and late check-out
    Welcome present in your room upon arrival

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