Lobby of a Comfort Inn in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo: JIP.
Choice Hotels has become the latest hotelier to offer discounted rates for its loyalty members.
The company hinted it was launching a direct-booking program during an annual earnings call last week, but made the official announcement Wednesday at its annual convention in Las Vegas.
Starting later this summer, Choice Privileges members will receive discounted rates when they book through the company’s website or mobile app. The exclusive rates will be available across all Choice Hotel brands, including Cambria Hotels & Suites and Comfort Inn.
Addressing the fact that travel professionals see these direct-booking pushes as a way to sidestep them as a distribution channel, choice’s Chief Commercial Officer Robert McDowell said, “Given our continued focus on growing share of midweek business, we will evaluate expansion to travel agents and plan to include input from travel managers in our decision making process.”
Choice Hotels revamped its rewards program in February. Enrollment for the first quarter is up 63% compared to last year, and it now has more than 26 million members.
Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, and InterContinental Hotel Group all have begun offering similar direct-booking programs, in what they say is an attempt to draw travelers away from online booking sites and the high fees they charge hotels. But they are struggling with how—or if—they should include professional travel agents and corporate travel managers in the mix.