Frequent Traveler University In Las Vegas

Frequent Traveler University Las Vegas

TheDMarquee

I used to travel a lot for work but that’s slowed down since I moved to Las Vegas. I know a lot of you still travel pretty often and I thought that this might be useful. Frequent Travel University (FTU) has a slew of speakers that will offer tips on how to maximize airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Getting the most out of these non-Vegas loyalty programs can help provide free or discounted visits to Vegas. That money is better used in the casino anyway. The Vegas edition of FTU takes place on April 29 and 30 in Downtown Vegas at The D.

You can find some details below and full details on the FTU website. The first 10 people to register with promo code edgeFTU will save $10. The code is good until March 26.

The Program

The all-day Manufactured Spend boot camp intensive is sold out, but fear not. For those with interest in MS, there are still sessions on the latest and greatest Manufactured Spend opportunities on both Saturday and Sunday that are included with the FTU Signature Event. Instead of spending the entire day on just one subject, there will be two 1 ½ hour sessions over two days and it also gives you the opportunity to attend a variety of the other sessions available during the weekend. There will be 3 sessions running concurrently during the day so attendees at the FTU Signature Event will be spoilt for choice. Plus, not every session is repeated at every FTU so there is bound to be something new for those who have attended FTU’s before. 

Sample sessions include:

— What is it like to live in hotels full time?

— Finding Cheap Premium Fares

— Introduction to Mileage Running: Costs and Benefits

— International Upgrade Methods and Strategies

— Using ExpertFlyer

— Live Award Bookings

— Advanced booking techniques for revenue tickets

— Non-traditional awards and miles

Optional Blackjack tournament – Travel Writers & Industry VIPs vs. Frequent Flyers

On Friday night after the cocktail reception, continue the fun by participating in the first ever FTU charity Blackjack Tournament: Industry VIPs and travel writers versus frequent travelers. This tournament is all about fun. Never played cards before in a casino environment? No worries. This tournament is a great opportunity to play blackjack in a friendly atmosphere. The dealers will be professional casino “Go-Go” dancer dealer/entertainers.  It also gives you the chance to compete against some of your favorite travel writers and industry VIPs. 

We have great prizes lined up that include up to 50K SPG points courtesy of Starwood Preferred Guest.

Expect lots of fun and some surprises. This is sure to be a must-do event! Tickets for the Blackjack tournament are $50, and all proceeds go towards the InsideFlyer Kiva charity Lending Team. Your ticket also includes $25 in match play coupons that can be used at The D Casino, which makes this not only an amazing opportunity for charity but also a fabulous “deal”. Tickets for the optional Blackjack tournament can be purchased here – https://ftuniversity.com/events/ftu-signature-las-vegas/

 

Marriott To Buy Starwood and Invades the Vegas Strip

Marriott
Marriott

Marriott announced that they will be buying Starwood Hotels this morning. This comes on the heels of Starwood announcing that SLS Las Vegas will be a part of their Tribute Collection last week (see article on Travel Zork). Part of the SLS connection is that Starwood would be changing the Lux tower at SLS into W Las Vegas.

A Starwood sale wasn’t a secret but Hyatt was becoming the favorite to buy them (see article on Travel Zork). This deal was made because most of Marriott’s rooms before the purchase were in the United States. About 2/3rds of Starwood hotel rooms are outside of the United States. Marriott now has 1.1 million hotel rooms around the world.

Back to Vegas.

Starwood’s biggest connection with Vegas is through its current affiliation with Caesars Entertainment. The SLS program will begin in December and W Las Vegas will open mid-late 2016. Marriott’s current Vegas Strip affiliation is with the Cosmopolitan. Since the Cosmo was sold last year it’s been rumored that they will eventually join Hilton in some way.

Might the Cosmopolitan become a Starwood hotel?  I know at least one person that will lose his mind if that happens.

Details on the merger of the programs haven’t been released yet. The press release is more financially driven. It’s possible, but unlikely, that Starwood and Marriott will remain separate brands that would keep their individual loyalty programs.

The deal isn’t expected to be completed until sometime in 2016. Unless relationships change these are the hotels on the Vegas Strip that will become Marriott hotels:

  • Bally’s
  • Caesars Palace
  • Cosmopolitan
  • The Cromwell
  • Flamingo
  • Harrah’s
  • The Linq
  • Paris
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Rio
  • SLS Las Vegas 
  • W Las Vegas

Marriott would be the hotel partner for almost half of the hotels on the Vegas Strip (12 of 26 or so). That’s kind of a big deal. Look forward to more information to follow next year.

PS: Starwood Hotels and Starwood Capital are not the same company. This old rumor is probably just be a coincidence.

No Kimpton Las Vegas Connection For Now

The Venetian Las Vegas
The Venetian

Sad news for Kimpton hotel fans. There won’t be a Kimpton Las Vegas connection…yet. Shortly after being purchased by Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), Kimpton sent out an email that their loyalty program would remain separate from IHG for the time being.

We’ll continue to offer the same great perks and benefits through our Kimpton Karma Rewards program across our 62 Kimpton hotels and any reward nights you’ve racked up stay perfectly intact. For the time being, the Kimpton Karma Rewards program and IHG Rewards Club will continue to run as separate loyalty programs.

IHG has almost 5,000 hotels around the world including The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas (you can see the full list here). Neither hotel fits the Kimpton boutique hotel model but that’s okay in the world of reward travel. Any way to use work travel rewards in Vegas is good. Expect the loyalty clubs to merge some time next year.

My one visit to a Kimpton hotel left me somewhat breathless. I loved it. The staff was fantastic and the hotel was great. I was so moved that I made a blog just for the few days I was at Hotel Monaco in Chicago. Enjoy.

Cosmopolitan To Say Goodbye To Marriott

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas At Night
Cosmopolitan At Night

If you’re a Marriott customer and looking to visit to the Vegas Strip you might want to make your reservations for a visit soon.

When Cosmopolitan was sold to Blackstone people with common sense assumed that the new Cosmo would be moving away from some of their current partnerships. Well, that’s the case with their hotel partner.

Say goodbye to a Marriott hotel partner on the Vegas Strip.

Since Blackstone owns HiltonLa QuintaWyndham and the brands beneath them, like Waldorf Astoria, the common thought was that they’d link the Cosmo with one of their existing hotel businesses. #Synergy.

The Las Vegas Sun confirms common sense:

…they will merge one of their hotel investment affinity programs into the Cosmopolitan to reward frequent players and guests.

“We believe that gaming revenues can increase there very quickly by 50 percent,“ I was told. “We have portfolio positions with other leisure travel properties that can be very beneficial to the future of the Cosmopolitan. There will be changes to ensure the property’s profitability in the short term.”

Changing hotel partners won’t guarantee that kind of gaming revenue increase. Even though Hilton hasn’t been named the hotel partner yet the change would be logical as Hilton and Marriott mirror each other.

The Cosmo has some of the highest room rates in Vegas and are often over 95% capacity. The change in hotel partners won’t help hotel revenue much, if any. Are Hilton customers more likely to gamble? We’ll see.

Going full circle, this changeover won’t happen overnight but if you want to use your Marriott Rewards on a free stay at the Cosmo you should book and stay soon.

Hilton Honors Coming To Tropicana

My friends and I stayed at Planet Hollywood on one of my first trips to Las Vegas mostly for one reason. At the time Planet Hollywood was a Starwood Property. Not only could some of us use Starwood points and status from work travel, but the lesser travelers could earn points towards free hotels anywhere in the country.

Vegas may be the greatest travel destination in the world, but it’s not the only place to visit. Having a partnership with a national hotel chain is a nice perk for travelers even if people in this town (like me) don’t believe it there are people that want to travel places besides Las Vegas.

Planet Hollywood is now a Caesars Total Rewards property. While that’s not as cool for the world-wide traveler at least they offer discounts to locations outside of Las Vegas. Tropicana is the latest casino to jump on board the national hotel program.

Four days after telling you about a Vegas rumor that DoubleTree was taking over the Tropicana‘s hotel, it’s now official…

Hilton HHonors members will both be able to use and earn points with stays at the Trop.

While partnering with a national hotel chain isn’t an exciting marketing move it’s a nice perk for the traveler. Tropicana may not be the most exciting place but it’s not embarrassing property at all and is not the worst way to introduce new visitors to Las Vegas.

If I wasn’t so familiar with Vegas and have so much “equity” in Total Rewards properties I think this might attract me to staying at Tropicana at least once to see what it’s like.

Ventetian & Palazzo Sign Deal with InterContinental Hotels

Yesterday Venetian and Palazzo announced that they signed a 10 year partnership with InterContinental Hotel Group (Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, etc.) to partner their Priority Club members.  This gives IHC a foot into Las Vegas where they previously didn’t have a property and gives Sands corp (Venetian and Palazzo) access to a new database of potential visitors.

Guests at the Venetian and the Palazzo will be able to earn points and redeem them for stays at any of IHG’s 4,500 hotels worldwide, while IHG’s Priority Club Rewards and Ambassador members will be able to use their own points for stays at both resorts.

I would never have found Planet Hollywood years ago if they weren’t a Starwood Hotel.  My friends and I use Starwood often.  Now that I’ve found Kimpton, I’d love for them to have a property in Las Vegas but I doubt that will happen as they’re more boutique focused.

As it relates to Venetian and Palazzo, this probably means that more families will visit the hotels.  This locks that I won’t be returning to Venetian as it’s already packed with too many families.  I’m curious to see how Palazzo handles any overflow that may occur.

This continues the copycat marketing in Las Vegas as Cosmopolitan previously signed a partnership with Marriot to access their customers.  As the ducks line up we’ll probably see Harrah’s expand their relationship with Starwood.  Who will MGM Resorts International partner with next?  They’re next in line.

Harrahs Adds Starwood To Total Rewards Alliance

I notice that Harrah’s added Starwood to their Total Rewards Alliance while I was poking around Total Rewards to make sure I was confirmed for an upcoming trip to Atlantic City.  The Total Rewards Alliance includes deals with Norwegian Cruise Lines and Hawaiian Airlines.  Here are the details on how things will work with Starwood.

Total Rewards introduces Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®) as our newest member of the Total Rewards Alliance! By adding new members to our Total Rewards Alliance, we are giving you more flexibility to build your Reward Credit balance. Now, earn 2 Bonus Reward Credits for every eligible dollar you spend at over 500 participating SPG locations in North America, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. As a Total Rewards member, you’ll also receive exclusive SPG rates at incredible resorts including the W, Westin, and Sheraton.

To be eligible for this exclusive promotion, you must register with your Total Rewards number prior to booking at www.spg.com/TotalRewards. Reward Credits received through your stay will post to your account within 14 days of checking out.

Eligible dollar spent includes only the hotel room rate at participating locations in North America. Taxes, incidentals, or other fees are not included as eligible spend, and will not qualify for Reward Credits. Guests must register for the promotion with their Total Rewards account number prior to booking, and must book through the designated booking site. Other Terms and Conditions apply. For a complete list of Promotional Terms and Conditions, visit us at www.spg.com/TotalRewards.

Total Rewards account must be in good standing to be awarded Reward Credits. All Rules and Regulations of Total Rewards apply. Click Here to see a complete list of Rules and Regulations for Total Rewards.

I’m a starwood member and try to stay at their locations whenever I travel, so getting Total Rewards points is just a bonus.  I don’t see many points coming from this, but if I can get a free meal out of some business travel I’ll take it.

I have to make hotel reservations for an upcoming trip, so this comes at a convenient time for me.  The FAQ answered most questions I had.