For the past seven years, Club Carlson has been the loyalty program for Carlson Hotels. OK, except, confusingly, there aren’t any Carlson hotels, except for Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, which are widely known simply as Country Inn & Suites.
So at a minimum, there was an identity disconnect between Club Carlson and the brands it represented, which were overwhelmingly Radissons.
In an effort to bring some order and marketing focus to this mishmash of brands, this year the Carlson Rezidor Group became the Radisson Hotel Group, and Club Carlson has just been redesigned and relaunched as Radisson Rewards.
According to today’s news release, “Embedding the Radisson name into the heart of our program, will help us instantly boost the global brand awareness of our loyalty program. Radisson is a name that’s instantly recognizable, respected and stands for award-winning, innovative hospitality.”
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So, what’s changed?
Foremost among Club Carlson’s weaknesses was its elite program. Radisson Rewards somewhat addresses that issue, with lower qualification thresholds, at least at entry-level and top tiers:
- Silver – Requires 40% fewer nights/stays to qualify
- Gold – Requires 15% more nights/stays to qualify
- Platinum – Requires 20% fewer nights/stays to qualify
On the earning side, Club and Platinum members continue earning points at the same rates (20 and 35 points per $1, respectively), but Silver and Gold members now earn fewer points per $1 spent.
It’s all Radisson now, both the program’s name and the brands it represents. That has to be good for the company’s marketing efforts.
As for the other changes, there are as many negatives as positives. From an overall value standpoint, the program remains much as it was, which is not among the industry’s most compelling programs.
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.