Posted by Ric Garrido

Share the Love is an essay contest from Stash Hotel Rewards for a two-night free stay (Fri Feb 11 – Sun Feb 13) at any of 46 hotels around the U.S.  

Contest link.

Simply tell Stash Hotel Rewards why you want to stay at any one of the 46 participating hotels to enter the Share the Love contest for a Valentine’s weekend getaway.

And the cool feature of this contest is you can enter an essay for as many hotels as you choose to increase your odds of winning a free hotel stay. There are 46 hotels offering this essay prize getaway, so up to 46 Stash Rewards prize winners. Or more to the point, you have the opportunity to try and win a free weekend by entering an essay with several different hotels in a specific location like Florida, New York, D.C. or San Francisco Bay Area or all 46 hotels if you choose.

Contest Deadline: 11:59pm eastern, Thursday, January 27.

Winners will be notified by February 1.

Stash Rewards “Share the Love” Contest Participating Hotels:

HOTEL NAME LOCATION
Affinia 50 Hotel New York, NY
Affinia Chicago Chicago, IL
Affinia Dumont New York, NY
Affinia Gardens New York, NY
Affinia Shelburne Murray Hill New York, NY
Ambassador Hotel Milwaukee, WI
Artmore Hotel Atlanta, GA
AVIA Long Beach Long Beach, CA
Beechwood Hotel Worcester, MA
Buena Vista Suites Orlando, FL
Caribe Royale Orlando, FL
Cedarbrook Lodge Seattle, WA
Edgewater Hotel Seattle, WA
Fountaingrove Inn Santa Rosa, CA
Hotel Abri San Francisco, CA
Hotel Andra Seattle, WA
Hotel Fifty Portland, OR
Hotel Sierra – Alpharetta Alpharetta, Georgia
Hotel Sierra – Bellevue Bellevue, WA
Hotel Sierra – Branchburg Branchburg, NJ
Hotel Sierra – Fishkill Fishkill, NY
Hotel Sierra – Green Bay Green Bay, WI
Hotel Sierra – Parsippany Parsippany, NJ
Hotel Sierra – Raleigh Morrisville, NC
Hotel Sierra – Rancho Cordova Rancho Cordova, CA
Hotel Sierra – Redmond Redmond, WA
Hotel Sierra – Richmond Richmond, VA
Hotel Sierra – San Ramon San Ramon, CA
Hotel Sierra – Santa Clara Santa Clara, CA
Hotel Sierra – Shelton Shelton, CT
Hotel Sierra – Washington Dulles Sterling, VA
Hotel Teatro Denver, CO
Lodge on the Desert Tucson, AZ
Menger Hotel San Antonio, TX
Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club Redondo Beach, CA
Resort at the Mountain Welches, OR
Riviera Palm Springs Palm Springs, CA
Sea Trail Golf Resort & Conference Center Sunset Beach, NC
Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa Sedona, AZ
Sonesta Hotel Orlando Downtown Orlando, FL
Stonehurst Place Atlanta, GA
The Lenox Hotel Boston, MA
The Plaza Suites Santa Clara, CA
The Shores Resort & Spa Daytona Beach, FL
The Wilshire Grand Hotel West Orange, NJ
The Waynesville Inn Golf Resort & Spa Waynesville, NC

 

You need to be a loyalty member of Stash Hotel Rewards or join to enter the essay contest. One unique feature of Stash Rewards is your email address is your account number. You just need to remember the email account you used for Stash Rewards signup when booking hotel reservations.

This Valentine’s Essay Contest is a high value, good odds offer for Stash Rewards members and a clever enrollment scheme for the loyalty program.

Contest Rules link.

 

About Stash Hotel Rewards

Stash Hotel Rewards is a hotel loyalty program launched in 2010 as a marketing program alliance for upscale and boutique independent hotels in the U.S.

Member hotels in Stash Rewards are distinctive properties for their location, are rated 3.5 star or above and typically rank high in TripAdvisor reviews.  Jeff Low, Stash Rewards CEO presented data at industry conferences showing hotel members of Stash Rewards have a higher aggregate rating on TripAdvisor.com for hotels in their location than the properties of other hotel loyalty programs like Marriott Rewards, Hilton HHonors and IHG Priority Club.

Another feature Jeff Low likes to point out for Stash Rewards is their hotel loyalty program does not offer cookie-cutter hotel properties.

Sometimes I think the curse for some big chain travelers is the only way to remember what town you are in when sitting in your hotel room is to look out the window of the Aloft or Hyatt Place or Hilton Garden Inn.

That was then and this is now

Loyalty Traveler posted a review of the Stash Rewards program in May 2010. At that time I applauded the concept of an independent hotels loyalty program, while pointing out the limited rebate value for the published earn and burn rates for the program and the limited number of hotel properties. Press releases anticipated a rapid acquisition of hotel partnerships from the 65 hotels in May 2010 to an estimated 200 by year-end 2010.

Eight months later I am taking another look to see where Stash Hotel Rewards has been and where they are now.

Stash Hotel Rewards still offers a limited number of properties with about 80 hotels currently online. The good news is 28 additional properties are already listed on the Stash Rewards hotel list for going live in Winter 2011.

I am feeling a little more inspired about Stash Rewards these days, particularly since learning the program recently signed two of my hometown’s leading properties. Monterey Plaza Resort & Spa has lovely ocean views from Cannery Row and Casa Munras, a recently remodeled property and Larkspur brand hotel, is situated in the center of Monterey’s business and historical district.

 

Monterey Plaza Hotel (spa pools are located on top floor glass-walled deck)

View from spa tub deck of Monterey Plaza Hotel

Stash Rewards Earn Rate for Points

Stash Rewards has a points earn rate of 5 points per dollar in room rate. The earn rate by itself does not tell much about a loyalty program. The more important factor is the value of points when used for free nights.

There are currently promotional earning bonuses available through Stash Rewards at select hotels:

  • Buena Vista Suites, Orlando, FL = 1,000 bonus points per reservation ($200 base points value).
  • Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL = 2,000 bonus points per reservation ($400 base points value).
  • Hotel Andra, Seattle, WA = double points (10 points per $1)

When I show ($200 base points value), that means a stay at this hotel will earn a bonus equivalent to the points earned for $200 in hotel spend. If your paid stay is $300, then with the 1,000 points reservation bonus you will earn the equivalent in points for $500 in hotel spend.

Taking advantage of booking bonuses and points promotions is a way to improve the earn rate of Stash Rewards. This is particularly important in a program that does not offer elite membership for frequent guests like most loyalty programs where elite members earn bonus points for hotel spend

Stash Rewards Burn Rate for Points

Redeeming points for hotel rewards is where Stash Rewards breaks away from the traditional model of hotel loyalty programs. Most programs use a fixed pricing model for rewards. Stash Rewards uses dynamic reward pricing.

For example, Crowne Plaza free nights are always 25,000 Priority Club points or Starwood Preferred Guest category 4 hotels are 10,000 points per night or HHonors category 6 hotels are 40,000 points per night. The cost of a free night is fixed regardless of the room rate for that night.

Fixed price rewards have a leverage advantage in that a Crowne Plaza might be $300 for a night and available for 25,000 points. On the other hand, the Crowne Plaza San Francisco Airport is typically less than $80 per night on Fridays and Saturdays, but you still need 25,000 points for a free night. Fixed price rewards can be gamed for great value, but sometimes you get poor value when you burn points for a low room rate night.

Stash Hotel Rewards uses dynamic pricing for reward nights. The advantage of this model is the ability to pay far fewer points for a hotel night when rates are low such as a resort hotel in an off-season location.

The disadvantage of this model is the relatively fixed rate value for points.

For example, Stash Hotel Rewards points are generally worth a little more than 1 cent each or about $10 per 1,000 points. For example, a $100 hotel room may require 10,000 Stash Rewards points.  Dynamic pricing of reward nights with a fixed redemption burn rate means the $300 room will likely require 30,000 points.

There are hotel reward night promotions like Hotel Sierra Richmond West where 9,989 points buys a $180 room after tax. This increases the value of points from the usual $10 per 1,000 points to around $18 per 1,000 points.

Suites on Points is a Stash Rewards Competitive Advantage

One of the best features of Stash Rewards that comes with dynamic redemption is the ability to book higher category rooms, like suites, using points. Most hotel loyalty programs only allow points to be used for a standard room category.

Upgrades on reward nights require additional points with Marriott Rewards (5,000 to 15,000 points per night) and Starwood Preferred Guest (double points for the hotel category).

Hyatt Gold Passport offers suite upgrades using points, however, points upgrades are allowed only for paid stays and not reward nights. Gold Passport Diamond elite suite upgrade certificates also apply only to paid stays.

Programs like Priority Club and HHonors do not even offer suites for points.

Elite status is the primary route to an upgrade with most major hotel loyalty programs.

Stash Rewards dynamic pricing allows the hotel to charge the number of points appropriate for the published room rate. The burn rate is fixed whether redeeming points for a $100 room night or a $300 room night. The $300 room will cost 3x points of the $100 room. The hotel can open inventory to all room categories to guests using Stash Rewards points since there is no leverage to the burn rate.

San Francisco Case Study:

Hotel Abri, Union Square, San Francisco (Larkspur Hotels)

Saturday, January 29

Deluxe Queen = 9,697 points  ($129; $149.19 after tax = $15.38/1000 points)

Deluxe King = 10,825 points ($144; $166.54 after tax = $15.38/1000 points )

Urban Suite = 13,080 points ($174; $201.23 after tax = $15.38/1000 points)

Oasis Suite = 15,937 points ($211.50; $244.60 after tax = $15.35/1000 points) 

Hotel Abri shows how dynamic pricing of reward nights allows the member to choose any category of room using points. The fixed burn rate of $15.38 per 1,000 Stash Rewards points shows that the redemption rate does not vary regardless of room type booked with points. 

The room rate after tax is used to calculate the redemption rate for Stash Rewards points. No tax is paid on hotel reward nights so that means the rate after tax is the total money saved by using points.

Ranking the Earn/Burn Rate for Stash Hotel Rewards

A common comparison method for hotel loyalty programs is to compare points earned for a paid night to the burn rate for that same hotel using points for a free night. The rate before tax is used to calculate earn rate since points are not awarded for hotel taxes and fees.

Hotel Abri Oasis Suite = $211.50 x 5 points/$1 = 1,057 points.

15,937 burn rate/1,057 points earn rate = 15 paid nights to earn one free night or about a 6.7% Stash Rewards loyalty program rebate on hotel spend.

Stash Rewards has a fair earn/burn value in this example.

An example of a great earn/burn value is a loyalty promotion like Marriott Rewards Megabonus offer for one free category 1-4 hotel night after two stays. That has potential to earn a free hotel night after just two nights and potentially can be a 100% rebate.

Stash Rewards base earn/burn rate is comparable to major programs, however, the lack of elite bonus points and limited promotions means Stash Rewards will unlikely have many high-value rebates comparable to offers like Marriott Rewards stay twice and earn a free night.

 

Stash Hotel Rewards Case Study 2:

The Cliff House at Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, Colorado

This AAA 4-diamond property was listed on Travel + Leisure’s 100 Top Hotels of the World.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 (Hotel tax = 10.8%)

Studio Room = 7,130 points ($84.15; $93.24 after tax = $13.07/1,000 points)

Junior Suite = 10,731 points ($109.65; $121.49 after tax = $11.32/1,000 points)

Deluxe Suite = 12,891 points ($152.15; $168.58 after tax = $13.07/1,000 points)

Celebrity Suite = 15,052 points (rate not shown on hotel website)

Premier Celebrity Suite = 17,213 points (rate not shown on hotel website)

Cliff House Deluxe Suite Earn/Burn Rate

$152.15 x 5 points/$1 = 760 points

12,891 points/760 points = 17 nights to earn a free night or about a 5.9% Stash Rewards loyalty program rebate.

Conclusion:

Basically promotional offers for earning bonus points or redeeming points at a higher value rate are the ways to get more value from your hotel earn and burn in Stash Hotel Rewards.

Without promotional offers the program works out to about a 5% to 7% rebate value for Stash Hotel Rewards points. You need to spend about $2,000 at member hotels to earn a $100 to $140 room night credit.

The ability to earn Stash Rewards points at independent hotels and redeem points for high category rooms, including suites is a very attractive loyalty program  feature.

Stash Hotel Rewards has made some program improvements in the past eight months.

Stash Hotel Rewards is growing and offers travelers the ability to earn points at independent properties around the U.S. that previously had no other loyalty program option.  Stash Rewards earn and burn rate is not as lucrative as most major hotel programs (high potential for 20%+ rebate on hotel spend with major loyalty programs), but some Stash Rewards rebate (5 to 7% on hotel spend) is certainly better than no rebate when staying at these hotels.

The ability to redeem points for any room at the hotel is a feature that trumps the free night rewards of many major hotel loyalty programs.

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