Do this now: Starwood and IHG fall promotions

I've updated my Hotel Promotions page with two more Fall hotel promotions.

Double or triple points with Starwood Preferred Guest

Between September 15 and December 15, 2014, earn double Starpoints on paid stays of 2 or more nights, or triple Starpoints on paid stays of 2 or more nights that include a Friday or Saturday night (Thursday or Friday night in the Middle East). Register for the promotion here by October 31, and find the list of non-participating properties here.

While it's not spectacular, and there are a fair number of non-participating properties, you should still register now, before you forget, in case you end up with some paid Starwood stays this Fall.

At least 50,000 points or 2 free nights with IHG Rewards

This Fall IHG Rewards is continuing their recent trend of offering "customized" promotions to members based on their history with the program. Here's the offer I received (based on my non-existent participation with IHG Rewards):

As is true for many folks, it's possible to complete all 5 of my tasks by staying a total of three nights over two stays, if and only if both stays are completed at different Holiday Inn hotels and include two Saturdays.

As it happens, I have an upcoming Saturday night award stay at the airport Hyatt Place in Portland, Oregon, for which I redeemed 8,000 Gold Passport points. Since there's also a Holiday Inn property at the airport, I can easily book a stay there and end up breaking roughly even (I'll pay about $93 and get my 8,000 Gold Passport points back, paying 1.16 cents per Gold Passport point and meeting almost half my IHG Rewards tasks).

For my second Saturday, second Holiday Inn, second stay, and second and third nights, I'll probably slightly "overbook" and make a 3-night reservation in San Antonio for an upcoming trip my partner needs to take there. I'll pay about $553 for the 3 nights and fulfill the rest of my IHG Rewards tasks.

That's perhaps $60-70 more than the cheapest satisfactory room in central San Antonio (and it's likely possible to find an even lower rate using opaque booking sites, not to mention using hotel points). On the other hand, that premium will pay for 2 free nights at any IHG property in the world, subject to award availability.

In discussing this promotion, The Miles Professor made the most important point when she wrote:

"The certificates do expire after 12 months so it only really makes sense to go for it if you have a particular trip and hotel in mind. For some hotels, award nights are not always available so, if you do have your heart set on a certain hotel, check for general availability instead of time [sic]."

Back in June I wrote about hotel loyalty program "no blackout date" policies, and shared that IHG has the worst policy of all the major chains, essentially allowing properties to throttle award availability at any time and in any way they choose.

On the other hand, I have an upcoming trip to Italy that still has a number of nights that need to be booked, so I'm hoping those 2 free award nights will give me some valuable flexibility as I complete my hotel reservations for that trip.

Whether you plan to game the promotion or not, be sure to register now, before you forget.