The basic idea of being a member of Club Carlson Hotel Loyalty Program is to earn Gold Points whenever you stay in a Club Carlson partner hotel. These Gold Points can be accumulated and redeemed either for free nights in affiliated hotels or in a few other ways. Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inn, etc. chains are members of the Carlson Rezidor Group that operates Club Carlson. I have been a Club Carlson member since 2011 and have been quite satisfied with the program. However, my recent stay in a Club Carlson hotel – Country Inn, Indore (February 2015) has changed everything for me. I no longer have the faith in this hotel loyalty program that I used to have. The reason is this: According to Club Carlson, even though my booking for this hotel was a paid booking (INR 4200 per night), the rate at which my travel agent (MakeMyTrip.com) booked this hotel for me was not an “Eligible Rate”. An ineligible rate does not earn Gold Points and thus, does not even qualify to be counted for one’s Elite status in the program. And it goes without saying that such a stay will not qualify for any Club Carlson promotion one has registered for. The problem is crystal clear: when a customer books a Club Carlson hotel room through a travel agent, online or otherwise, the rate at which the travel agent books the room with the hotel is never known to the customer. Whether the rate is an “Eligible” or “Ineligible” rate will be known to the customer only when Gold Points are credited or denied a few days after the stay. If the agent decides to inflate their profit by doing the booking at a heavily discounted rate, the customer will lose the Gold Points. Keep reading…
I complained about this to Club carlson Member Services and they sent me some fine print to justify the denial of Gold Points. This is the response that I got from them:
“Eligible stays are defined as the following:
“Eligible Rate” means a rate identified in Carlson’s reservation system as eligible for Gold Points. Eligible Rate does not include, without limitation, the following: employee rates; friends and family rates; airline crew rates; travel agency employee rates; certain promotional and package rates; rates paid using a free night voucher and other complimentary or barter rooms; rates booked through an online travel company, whether such rates are direct, auction or bid rates; rates booked and billed through a master account, including group accounts and tour operator accounts; and certain other rates booked through third parties.”
The words: “and certain other rates booked through third parties” above are really important and a major part of this problem. If only the Club Carlson members can have a way of knowing if their travel agent will book the room at an “Eligible Rate”. As of now, they don’t.
A possible solution?
The only possible solution to this problem is also an uncertain one. One can always book a Club Carlson hotel on their website. Naturally, that way one would be deprived of any possible travel agent discounts and still not be sure of whether or not the stay would earn Gold Points. Maybe if I book all my Club Carlson hotel rooms at full rates, I will always earn Gold Points but will the benefits of being a member of Club Carlson be equal to that cost? That I do not know.