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Making one hotel bill pay for another

S Ravindran & Reeba Zachariah | July 15, 2003

As competition hots up, the hotels industry is going out of its way to woo customers through innovative incentive schemes. And luxury hotels are joining the bandwagon.

Take the four for ten offer of the Leela Palaces and Resorts. If you spend 10 nights at any of the Leela hotels in Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa between June and October 2003 you get four nights free.

Complimentary stays can be availed anytime during August 2003 to October 2003 and April 2004 to September 2004.

Okay. Spending ten nights in a three-month period is too much of a problem. Spend just five and get two nights free.

You feel that the food at the Leela will cost a bomb while you stay. Simply join the connoisseur Club. A silver level membership comes for Rs 5,750 and Gold for Rs 9,750.

Everytime you dine you get a 20 per cent discount on the bill. You bring in one guest, the bill goes down by 50 per cent.

Bring in two and the bill is down 33 per cent. Bring in three and you get a discount of 25 per cent. For four guests and above, the bill goes down by 20 per cent.

"The feature of both schemes is the value addition. We see the four for ten offer as a straight forward value addition of 40 cent," says Sanjoy Pasricha, corporate head of sales and marketing, Leela Palace & Resorts.

Loyalty to the Oberoi group gets you well -- Connections. The bookers reward programme of the Oberoi group has been christened Connections. Every time you reserve a room at an Oberoi or Trident hotel (the budget arm of the Oberoi chain) you earn points on each materialised room night.

This could be five points for the Maidens Hotel, Delhi; 10 points for the Trident Agra; 15 for the Oberoi Bangalore and 20 points for the Rajvilas, Jaipur. Suites get double points.

You can redeem the number of points over a two-year time period. Simply put you can exchange these points for a weekend break with your mate.

You can also get a two-day break with your mate depending on the number of points. For instance, you have to earn 600 points for a holiday at the Jass Trident, Khajuraho and 1300 points for the Maidens Hotel Delhi.

A lot of other facilities like a health club and massage are thrown in. These points can also be used to settle food bills at any Oberoi or Trident Hotel.

Depending on the number of points you can also buy white goods like refrigerators and washing machines.

For instance, 5,500 points will fetch you a 310 litre frost free Samsung refrigerator and 3,000 points will fetch you a microwave oven.

The advantage of the Oberoi group's scheme over that of the Leela's is that it offers wider choice of 20 destinations to the Leela's three. The Taj group too offers a point-based scheme like that of the Oberois.

The points are however obtained on actual spend and not on nights spent. There is a three-tiered membership -- Blue, Silver and Gold.

Further, there is an epicure plan that can be tagged along to the silver and gold plans. Blue and Silver members earn one point for every Rs 100 spent while gold level members earn a point for every Rs 80 spent.

These points can be redeemed against your dining and stay expenditure at 44 various Taj Hotels in India. Some of these can be used at hotels in Kathmandu, Colombo, Maldives Dubai and Yemen as well. Incidentally, the Taj group has a scheme for children between the age of 5 and 12.

You now reach for the nearest telephone and call up any of these hotels (check with an agent for many others) to decide which one gets your loyalty. For loyalty pays.

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