Bad availablity for awards in India

 
Old Jul 16, 07, 8:00 pm
  #1  
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Bad availablity for awards in India

I've been a HUGE fan of SPG, but have to think twice after attempting to use points for stays in New Dehli, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai. Many of the SPG properties have plenty of vacancies but won't take points since they are not "standard rooms." I even asked the Plat concierge aboout using extra points for suites. Nope. So what difference does it make if you don't have blackout dates if the hotel only makes one room available for points?

I booked a bunch of rooms at Hiltons instead. If I run into this again, I'm out of SPG. Why earn all the points if properties want to significantly limit the number of available rooms.

No SPG properties would take points in Mumbai or Jaipur. New Dehli was avail only at Le Meridien.
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Old Jul 16, 07, 11:42 pm
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I am planning a trip to India for October, and would certainly echo your concerns about room availability, particularly for the ITC Welcomgroup hotels (usually Sheratons). Definitely a less expansive definition of a "standard" room than anywhere else in the world I have tried with SPG.

However, one suggestion I would mention: the availability of reward nights for many of the hotels has varied widely over the past 2-3 months I have been trying to put this trip together. One week rooms at the Maurya in Delhi are not available for a certain date, and the following week they suddenly will be. Ditto for the Maratha in Mumbai, and the Le Meridien in Mumbai as well (though not the Grand Central... I've never found availability there for any of my dates.)

So, not sure how soon your trip is, but it could pay to keep at it. I agree it shouldn't be this difficult, though. It will be interesting to see if some of the new Westins being opened over the next couple years (in Delhi and Bangalore, maybe also elsewhere?) will be noticeably easier to book.
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Old Jul 17, 07, 4:41 am
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Getting a PAID hotel room has been difficult in May. This is with SPG as well as Hyatt.

Demand is just very high, supply is limited.
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Old Jul 17, 07, 5:41 am
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Originally Posted by AshleyF View Post
Getting a PAID hotel room has been difficult in May. This is with SPG as well as Hyatt.

Demand is just very high, supply is limited.
Agreed with this in general. However, I'm currently researching availability for an India holiday and find good award availability in Agra, Delhi, Cochin, and Chennai. I've also found fairly decent Cash & Points availability as well. It may depend on your dates, but more info may help.

Bangalore & Mumbai are really hard to get anything at (including paid rooms sometimes).

1 thing I've had to do in the past is do seperate bookings (ie, book 1st-3rd, then 4th-6th, and 8th-14th for example for a 2 week stay) and watch for availability on the "missing dates" over time. Once you get a booking for the full time you need, you can many times get the stays combined to 1 record by contacting the hotel.

Also, I've even shown up at the hotel once with a missing day or 2 over a 14 day stay & just talked to the folks there who got my stay filled up for me (of course, I had cancellable reservations at other backup hotels just in case).
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Old Jul 17, 07, 8:56 am
  #5  
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Le Meridien is a pretty nice property in Delhi.

I'm looking for mid-September and finding rates of $370-$500/night all over the place so I can't imagine rewards will be easy. November will be even harder from past experience. Might the Indian economy slow just because companies can't afford to pay for the hotel rooms?
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Old Jul 17, 07, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by ExtraInRedShirt View Post
I've also found fairly decent Cash & Points availability as well. It may depend on your dates, but more info may help.
At which hotels in India have you seen any C&P availability for any dates? I've been checking many of them regularly online and have had Platinum concierge check months at a time, and have never seen availability. Would be great to know which hotels have at least assigned a room to the rate plan.
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Old Jul 17, 07, 2:11 pm
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Does Starwood even have a minimum percentage of rooms that must be "standard" rooms for purposes of award redemption, and if so what is it? (5%, 10%, 50%, etc.)
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Old Jul 17, 07, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Does Starwood even have a minimum percentage of rooms that must be "standard" rooms for purposes of award redemption, and if so what is it? (5%, 10%, 50%, etc.)
Not that I'm aware of...but whatever standard rooms are identifiable are available for awards.

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Old Jul 17, 07, 5:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker View Post
Not that I'm aware of...but whatever standard rooms are identifiable are available for awards.

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And who is it that identifies what is a "standard room", the hotel itself? Does the hotel really want a $50-$100 reimbursement from Starwood for an award booking when the same room can be sold at $200-$400?

Starwood really ought to have a minimum percentage of rooms that are to be designated as standard rooms or the marketing material (about if there's a room, it's available for redemption) will be perceived as misleading.

For what it's worth, I expect more Indian hotels to jump up a category next year -- and in the interim (and maybe even afterwards) getting an award booking at standard marketed award levels will be a pain.
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Old Jul 17, 07, 9:44 pm
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Originally Posted by bfrederi View Post
At which hotels in India have you seen any C&P availability for any dates? I've been checking many of them regularly online and have had Platinum concierge check months at a time, and have never seen availability. Would be great to know which hotels have at least assigned a room to the rate plan.
Le Meridien Cochin
this friday through next monday (July 20 - 23)
next friday through next monday (July 27 - 30)
(and the next 3 weekends after that)

The Mugal, Agra
I had a week in early September that was available last week - it's not now. Unfortunately, I didn't book it yet.

I haven't checked too much beyond those, but had good luck when I was looking before, so didn't do an exhaustive search.
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Old Jul 18, 07, 8:38 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
And who is it that identifies what is a "standard room", the hotel itself? ...
Yes. We say that in the Terms and Conditions of Membership as well. Besides, who is in the best position to know? The frequent stay program or the actual hotel?

...Does the hotel really want a $50-$100 reimbursement from Starwood for an award booking when the same room can be sold at $200-$400?...
Not sure that this is a real issue or just a perception issue. If a hotel sells 90% of the their room availability, they're going to get the $200 - $400 they would have gotten from SPG anyway, so there is no incentive out there for them to fudge on the numbers of standard rooms.

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Old Jul 18, 07, 11:48 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker View Post
Yes. We say that in the Terms and Conditions of Membership as well. Besides, who is in the best position to know? The frequent stay program or the actual hotel?
Some of us SPG customers would appreciate it if SPG required that a minimum percentage of a hotel's rooms are made available for standard award redemptions.

Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker
Not sure that this is a real issue or just a perception issue. If a hotel sells 90% of the their room availability, they're going to get the $200 - $400 they would have gotten from SPG anyway, so there is no incentive out there for them to fudge on the numbers of standard rooms.
There may be an incentive for the hotel to severely restrict how many rooms it makes available for award redemptions until a point in time when the hotel knows it's hit (or certainly going to hit) the 90% occupancy level. This is yet another reason why I'd like to see Starwood require that a minimum percentage of rooms at the individual hotel properties be classified as "standard rooms" for purposes of award redemption. Last minute award availability might be useful for the likes of me but is generally not useful to most SPG members who want to use points for scheduled leisure purposes.
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Old Jul 18, 07, 12:29 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Some of us SPG customers would appreciate it if SPG required that a minimum percentage of a hotel's rooms are made available for standard award redemptions.
Yes, there are probably a lot of things folks would appreciate; however, reality suggests another outcome in regard to this request.

There may be an incentive for the hotel to severely restrict how many rooms it makes available for award redemptions until a point in time when the hotel knows it's hit (or certainly going to hit) the 90% occupancy level. This is yet another reason why I'd like to see Starwood require that a minimum percentage of rooms at the individual hotel properties be classified as "standard rooms" for purposes of award redemption. Last minute award availability might be useful for the likes of me but is generally not useful to most SPG members who want to use points for scheduled leisure purposes.
Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't think hotels work on the assumption that they aren't going to sell out. Quite the opposite, actually.

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Old Jul 18, 07, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker View Post
Yes, there are probably a lot of things folks would appreciate; however, reality suggests another outcome in regard to this request.
Yes, and that present-day reality is why I communicated my interest/request/suggestion.


Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker
Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't think hotels work on the assumption that they aren't going to sell out. Quite the opposite, actually.

Best regards,

William R. Sanders
Online Guest Feedback Coordinator
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

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Would hotel property owners pay independent consultants -- consultants who are independent of the brand/loyalty program operator/management -- to tell them how to maximize their position vis-a-vis the brand/loyalty program operator/management? That is, in this case, how to make sure award bookings don't cannabilize higher revenue standard booking streams (even controlling for occupancy levels) or result in lower revpar.
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Old Jul 18, 07, 10:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker View Post
Not that I'm aware of...but whatever standard rooms are identifiable are available for awards.

Best regards,

William R. Sanders
Online Guest Feedback Coordinator
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

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So a Starwood property could have no rooms considered standard? What about one small room with a twin bed? This is beginning to sound like a topic for a Ben Mutzenberger column in USA Today! No blackout dates does not mean in any way you can actually use points for a room. LOL.
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