Normally this week I put out my annual Jimmy Fallon styled (tongue in cheek) Travel Thank You Notes. I cheer the airlines, hotels, credit cards and travel companies that did well and razz those that did not! But the only place I managed to go this year was up and down the stairs in my house.
Nonetheless, there was still a lot going on in the travel industry as companies made frequent changes in order to adapt to the Covid situation. Credit cards revamped their perks and benefits while Airlines and hotels added new cleaning practices, reduced fees and implemented new processes to keep guests safe. Travel companies had to constantly change this year in order to keep up and keep their customers.
Even though we weren’t traveling, we still kept up with everything that was being done to help protect the people who did. Thank You Southwest and Delta Airlines for how long you kept middle seats open, your mask requirements and your new boarding and cleaning practices.
Credit Card Benefits and Promotions
Travel credit cards wanting to retain their cardholders on a year with limited travel had to get creative fast. Some added new perks or rolled out limited time promotions to help people earn extra points and save money while they were unable to use their valuable travel benefits. The key to maximizing points this year was staying on top of these ever changing offers and being ready to move your spending around accordingly.
Thank You Hilton Honors program for being very proactive and quickly extending reward night expirations. Thanks also for offering several limited time offers throughout the year (including an unbelievable 12x points on groceries in the spring) which allowed members to earn tons of bonus points while we were NOT traveling.
Thank You Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards for adding a 5x points per dollar on groceries offer (normally only 1x) beginning in September and running through the end of the year. I quickly switched my grocery purchases to this card during the promotional period. With all our extra grocery purchases over the holidays, I was able to rack up lots of extra Rapid Rewards points for travel next year!
IHG Hotels, was the slowest hotel chain to extend the expirations on reward nights. They get a Boo for leaving members wondering until mid December if they were even going to offer an extension.
Thank You American Express Delta card for offering a few good promotions this year that allowed us to earn extra points. We gladly moved our purchases to this card to take advantage of your bonus offers for dining out (fall/winter) and grocery purchases (summer).
Thank You American Express for really trying to be creative with solid offers and new perks on your cards to make up for unusable travel benefits. I called when my card was renewing because I wouldn’t be able to utilize important benefits like the $100 airline fee credit. You happily offered me a $100 credit toward my annual fee. I felt that was a fair deal.
Thank You Southwest Airlines for several great customer service experiences this year. I had to cancel trips during the early days of Covid and later get some voucher expirations extended. As busy as you were handling so many customer requests, your Customer Service Agents were always friendly, helpful and solved my problems.
Thanks also to Hyatt Hotels for providing good Customer Service via Twitter when we cancelled our April hotel reservation for Sedona. With everyone bombarding travel companies with cancellation requests during those first months of Covid, my expectations were low. But I was pleasantly surprised that my experience with Hyatt was quick, easy and my points were back in my account right away.
That one trip we DID take
A sincere Thanks to The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor, MI. We spent 3 socially distanced nights there relaxing over Labor Day. It ended up being our ONLY trip of the year. The weather was a bit uncooperative, but it felt so great just not being at home that it didn’t really matter. We loved our cozy room with the kitchenette, fireplace and porch that had a lovely view of Lake Michigan. It was exactly what we needed. We enjoyed the resort property and will definitely stay there again in the future.
I feel fortunate that most of the travel companies I worked with made it easy to cancel my reservations. I heard a lot of horror stories about folks who had less satisfying experiences. I think that most of the companies that I have chosen to deal with lived up to my expectations this year.
But I will be keeping my eye on IHG since they didn’t work very hard at customer retention this year. I was already disappointed with their lackluster promotions before Covid and found their lack of responsiveness this year to be quite disheartening. If they don’t up their game before my next renewal, it might be time to use my points and cut them loose.
Thanks to all my readers for hanging in there as I struggled to even write blog posts this year. Since I value you and your time, I didn’t want to continually regurgitate old trips or recycle the same news being posted everywhere else.
Best wishes to all of you for a much better New Year! Travel will be back soon. Until then….
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!