Hotels Exchange Loyalty Points For Katrina Donations

By Sep 14, 2005

Hotel chains are stepping up to aid those devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and offering loyalty program members extra incentives to do the same.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is offering members of its loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, a one-time award of 500 Starpoints for donations of $50 or more to the American Red Cross or the Starwood Hurricane Relief Fund. Donations made to the Starwood Relief Fund will benefit affected Starwood associates from the Sheraton New Orleans West New Orleans and West French Quarters hotels and relief agencies. The incentive runs through Oct. 31.

Likewise, Best Western International is letting members of its Gold Crown Club International loyalty program earn bonus points for cash donations to the hurricane relief effort. Members who donate $50 or more will receive 50 bonus points. Members can earn up to 250 bonus points through Oct. 31.

“So many of us were affected by this incredible tragedy,” said Best Western spokesperson Denise Seomin. “We just feel it’s important to show our support.”

Best Western is marketing the incentive via an e-newsletter to its more than 4 million loyal club members, the Internet and p.r. efforts.

The hurricane impacted 46 Best Western properties across four states, Seomin said. Some hotels suffered structural damage, while others are at full capacity providing temporary shelter for hurricane evacuees.

Marriott International, Inc. is letting guests put their loyalty points to good use. Consumers who belong to Marriott Rewards can redeem their points for gift checks for the Red Cross. For 18,000 Rewards points, members can buy a $50 gift check; 33,000 Rewards points will buy a $100 gift check. Rewards points of 60,000 and 180,000, will buy gift checks of $250 and $1,000, respectively.

Members who redeem their points for the gift checks can send the checks to the Red Cross. Red cross volunteers will distribute the checks to victims who need assistance paying for food and hotel rooms. Internet materials support.

“We heard from our members. They wanted to redeem points to help the relief effort,” said Laurie Goldstein, a Marriott spokesperson. “We wanted to do something quickly and [give] people the best of both worlds.”

Hurricane Katrina damaged 24 Marriott hotels in three states—, Alabama and Florida. Marriott operates 15 hotels alone in the New Orleans region, Goldstein said.