Club Carlson Category Creep Devaluation

There must be a handbook somewhere… the Idiot’s Guide to Running a Loyalty Programme…

When faced with too many points in circulation, follow these steps:

  • Step 1 – invent a higher award category, but only allocate a handful of your most obviously luxurious properties to it
  • Step 2 (a year or so later) – under the guise of adjusting hotel categories, move dozens of your hotels into this new top category
  • Step 3 – make a small note on your website and hope nobody notices the “minor adjustment”

Perhaps thankfully, it is Club Carlson – rather than a larger or more important chain – that has followed this strategy. Last year, it introduced a new Category 7, costing 70,000 points per night. Only 11 hotels were allocated to the new Category 7.

cc award chart

This year, 67 hotels will be joining Category 7, including one in Kuwait jumping from a Category 4! Naturally, almost all Club Carlson properties in the expensive markets of London, France and Norway will become Category 7s.

The changes will take effect on 1 June, 2015. You can peruse the list of hotels changing category here.

These changes are no real surprise. Club Carlson have occasionally been selling points for 0.4 US cents apiece, albeit in limited quantities. At that price, Category 6 hotels in central London would cost a mere $200 per night.

The timing also coincides with American credit card holders losing a very valuable perk – the last night free on a 2+ night stay. Naturally, most card holders therefore booked 2-night stays to maximise the benefits. One might have expected Club Carlson to analyse the impact of that change before undertaking a larger quasi-devaluation. But obviously not…

As always, bookings made using points are refundable. Therefore, Club Carlson members should consider making speculative bookings at hotels increasing in category. Any subsequent changes would cause your booking to re-price to the higher rate, but it can’t hurt to book something anyhow, just in case…

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