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SPG

Mattress Run #2 – Starwood

Hope everyone had a fun Memorial Day Weekend!

Although I would have loved to travel this weekend, I wasn’t able to get out of Chicago : (

I however did hit up the beach and was amused by these characters walking in front of us.

Since I didn’t get to travel, I did the next best thing which was to do a mattress run to rack up some points to earn free nights in anticipation of my next trip!

It’s funny because prior to this Summer, I’d never done a mattress run in my life but in the last month I have already done 2.

My first one was to take advantage of Radisson’s Big Night Giveaway and rack up an easy 50,000 points.

That promotion is still going on and more information can be found here.

This past weekend’s Mattress Run, which I had talked about in the past here, was for Starwood and was targeted specifically for the 2 auxiliary “family” accounts that I have. I suspect I was targeted for those 2 accounts because they had SPG points in them from all the social media promotions but I had never actually stayed at a Starwood property under those accounts.

The promotion essentially provided 1 free night at any Starwood property, catagory 1-6, in exchange for staying 1 night at any Starwood property before July.

Although the offer is phenomenal, within Downtown Chicago, all the Starwood properties go for $150+ a night, so if I had wanted to take advantage of this promotion, I would have had to go out to the cheaper Starwood Hotels near O’Hare airport.

Well it just so happens that I needed to go on an IKEA run this weekend, which coincidently is near O’Hare airport.

On Friday evening I ran a quick Kayak.com search and to my surprise saw a stay for Saturday at the Westin Chicago Northwest for only $79!

I’m not sure if the low price had to do with Memorial Day and the fact that the hotel was primarily for Business Travelers, but I personally have never seen a Westin anywhere in the world go for only $79.

So I booked 2 rooms, 1 for each targeted account, and after IKEA we dropped in at the Westin Chicago Northwest and checked in.

Overall the Hotel was bizarre in design but for $79 it was a steal.

What is nice is that the hotel had auto check-out, so we didn’t have to do anything like physically go check out in the morning, so after we looked at  the room for 2 seconds, we headed back home.

If you are new to FFU, or have never heard of a Mattress Run and are wondering what exactly is the point of checking into a hotel, and checking out just to earn points, in simple terms, you are basically paying up front for a service that you will redeem in the future but at a much higher value.

In the case of my example from over the weekend, I did the promotion because I needed 2 hotel nights for my upcoming trip to Washington D.C in July.

I looked on Kayak and the hotel rooms in DC were $200+ a night, which as a blogger that writes about scoring free and cheap travel, is not exactly my cup of tea.

When I learned of this targeted promotion for a free night, a light bulb went off in my head when I realized I could find a cheap hotel in Chicago to earn the free night certificates at, and then redeem those free nights in Washington D.C at a much more expensive hotel, thus saving me quite a bit of money.

What blew my mind about this promotion was how lenient the free award night is. Not only are there no blackout dates but you can redeem the free nights at ANY Starwood category 1-6 property.

Armed with that knowledge, I headed over to Starwood.com to see what hotels in DC I could redeem my free nights at.

To my surprise, I could redeem at the St. Regis, Westin, or W, which all fall under either category 5 or 6!

The prices below are the actual prices per a night for a room during the dates we are going.

Holy Cow!

As you can see, by spending 2 X $79 ($100 or so after taxes were included) upfront for a throw away stay in Chicago, I’ll be getting 2 free nights which I can redeem in Washington DC at hotels that cost 4x more money!

Unfortunately this offer is targeted, or I’d be urging everyone to get in on it, but consider this a great example of how next time you see some junk email from a hotel in your inbox, to maybe give it a second look! You never know what you’ll find!

-Parag

100 Free SPG Points Via Facebook

I am guessing that in conjunction with Facebook going public Friday morning, Starwood has decided to give everyone 100 SPG points on Facebook so we don’t feel bad that we aren’t millionaires.

I am personally waiting for the MySpace IPO, but I certainly will take 100 free SPG points.

While technically you are suppose to “like” SPG first before you can get your points, the direct link to get the points is below:

Link To SPG 100 Free Points

Link To SPG Facebook Page (in case top link isn’t working)

This promotion literally takes 2 seconds.

Within 1 minute, I entered in all the 8 accounts of my family and Emily’s family.

800 SPG points for 1 minute of work is a steal!

Anyways lets hope that this is the start of a very successful free SPG points season.

Let’s just say that last summer, in addition to earning some 40,000 free SPG points via these types of Facebook promotions, thanks to their free concert ticket giveaway my Macbook Air was paid in full. Thanks SPG!

-Parag

Targeted: Starwood – Stay 1 Night, Get 5,000 SPG Points or Free Night

Sometimes It Pays To Not Use Your Account

In the past I have talked about how Starwood Preferred Guest allows you to transfer points between household members for free, so I have signed all my family members up for accounts.

Well in reality, I am really the only one who uses my SPG account on a regular basis.

My Brother, Mother, and Father’s accounts pretty much only get used when there is some kind of free SPG points promotion.

Well it seems Starwood is trying to incentivize these types of accounts with a pretty lucrative promotion.

I manage all my family’s SPG accounts so I get all the emails and saw that 2 out of the 3 accounts received an email from SPG offering 5,000 SPG points or a free night award for 1 stay before June 30, 2012.

Starwood points are extremely valuable since they can be used at Starwood Hotels and can also be transferred to numerous airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

However what caught my eye in this promotion is the free night certificate with no blackout dates and can be used at any Category 1-6 property.

I just did a quick search on Starwood.com, but to show how valuable a free night certificate can be, I put in a random date for an SPG hotel in NYC.

With a free night certificate, you could use it at the W New York and save $515!

 Similar to the Raddison Big Night Giveaway, basically to take advantage of this promotion, you pay up-front for a cheap room at a hotel near you (even if you don’t plan on using the room) so as to earn either a large amount of points (Radisson Big Night Giveaway) or in this case, a free night certificate.

Then with your points or free certificates, you redeem those rewards for extremely expensive rooms at luxury hotels when you actually do travel.

In the finance world this is called arbitrage, in the travel hacking world, it is called “mattress running”.

It is easy to see how lucrative these kinds of offers can be if for spending $80 for 1 night at some dumpy hotel near you, you get a free night certificate that can be redeem at luxury hotels that cost upwards of $500 a night. Talk about a return on investment!

With the Radisson Free Night Giveaway and this Starwood promotion, I should be able to get quite a few free nights at 5 star hotels for a couple hundred dollars!

Targeted Offer

In the email, it does say the offer is targeted, but as always it never hurts to try.

Link is below and you do need to enter your SPG number.

Let me know if it allows non-targeted people to register.

Link To SPG Bonus Beginning Offers

-Parag