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Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to file a claim 101

One reader on Flyertalk seemed to like the deals and the blog, but couldn't figure out for the life of him how to actually file a claim. Let me clear it up for him and for anyone not sure how this system works. The steps are as follows:

1. Find a cheaper rate for a Triprewards branded hotel online. Use Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. to find them. For Skoosh.com, your mileage may vary - as of Friday they have told me they will no longer be accepting claims from them, as the way Skoosh functions goes against their T&C's, and this was only recently decided.

2. Once the cheaper rate is found, purchase the room on Triprewards.

3. File a claim on Triprewards. The form is simple and easy to follow.

4. Wait for your answer - the same day on weekdays, or next business day on weekends/holidays.


It's simple!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thanks to all my readers

A heartfelt thanks to all my loyal readers. Your email comments and tips are well appreciated. Only eight days in and I've recieved more traffic to this site than any of my other sites I've ever had on the web. So, thanks for joining with me to save money this year. We've got a good community going on here.

A slew of new BRG opportunities on the way....

I'm in the process of confirming the validity of several YMMV BRG opportunities I've found. I don't intend to file claims for most of these findings, so I won't know how successful they will turn out for you, but I'm looking into if they have a good chance of avoiding rejection by TR staff.

So, sometime this weekend, check back here for a few new opportunities, mostly scattered around the Northeastern USA and Eastern Canada.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ramada Limited North - Spokane, Washington

Hotel Address: 9601 N Newport Hwy

Competitor Website: http://www.expedia.com

Availability: Through the end of February 2008

Occupancy: 2 Persons

Details: "2 Queen Beds Business Room" or "2 Queen Beds MiniSuite"

Rate variation: Competitor rate around $5-20 less than Triprewards for almost all weekday dates. Does not work on weekends.

Confirmed Approvals (Approver if known): 30 (CO,DJ,KM, BT)

Special Comments: This is a great hotel, highly recommended. Easy BRG approval process. So easy that as of March 1 Expedia.com is suspiciously not even offering to book this hotel anymore (nor the Hojo property listed in an earlier post).

Howard Johnson Plaza MCI Airport - Kansas City, Missouri

Hotel Address: 7301 Tiffany Springs Road

Competitor Website: http://www.skoosh.com

Availability: Most dates are available.

Occupancy: 2 Persons

Details: "Standard Two Double Beds"

Rate variation: Competitor rate is around $8 less than Triprewards (sample: $61 SK/$69 TR)

Confirmed Approvals (Approver if known): 2 (?)

Special Comments: Due to the newfound limitations in Skoosh, be sure to get screenshots of every screen, a print out to fax them if necessary, and feel free to go so far as to save the webpage file. The more evidence you have, the better.

Link Sharing: Frugal Travel Guy

I thought I'd introduce you all to one of my new favorite peers on the net, fellow Flyertalker Frugal Travel Guy. His blog is loaded with tips and tricks to save money on travel, and he has quite the resume when it comes to previous travel deals. Please show support for this blog by checking out partner blogs such as his. The link to that blog is:

http://frugaltravelguy.blogspot.com

Enjoy!

A disappointing turn of events....but there is a bright side to the picture.

Less than 48 hours after The BRG Blog debuted on the web, Triprewards must have been swamped with requests for the Seattle Days Inn BRG, so much that they seem to have negotiated with Skoosh.com to prevent the pre-tax rate being shown on that site. I do not think this is a coincidence, being a long time user of Skoosh.com and having it always show taxes before this moment. For those who are unaware, sending a BRG request based on "total" rates is a guaranteed no-no. Rates must be pre tax for a BRG to even be considered by the kind folks over at head office in Aberdeen, SD.

But there is light at the end of this tunnel. Fortunately, the referral link from Kayak.com seems to still be showing the pre-tax rates. I've contacted Skoosh.com for an exact explanation of what seems to be the problem here, after all, it may just be a bad change for Skoosh.com that coincided with this BRG opportunity. For those who are claiming this BRG, try not to mention you are accessing Skoosh via Kayak, as this may negate all future claims based on Skoosh.com rates and would make this blog much less exciting in the future.

Please do your part and email Skoosh.com asking for the "pre tax rates" to be shown to all users of their site. Public pressure is key here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Multiple Nights? Sure, why not!

Perhaps the biggest misconception of the BRG program is that you only get one night free. How can you make a vacation with just one free night? Don't let this naive thinking enter your mind!

Here's how...

Sure, they one-night stays on paper, but there are easy ways to stay more than one night and still play by the rules. The Wyndham Rewards BRG terms and conditions state:

Only one free room night will be offered per stay. A stay is any number of consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, even if the result of more than one reservation.

To be more precise, that is one free night per stay per person/unique address. If you have a friend or travel partner who lives at a different address and has a different last name, feel free to book every-other-night under your name, and the same for them. Thus, you can stay 8 nights in a row if you really want. In my experiences, I've never had a problem - just make sure the respective person is checking in on their respective reservations. No one can tell you who can stay in your room with you, and who can't.

Another way to do it even MORE legitimately is to find two BRG opportunities in the same city - I've done this several times. Under your name, you may book one hotel for every-other-day and the same for another hotel. Then, as long as you don't mind shifting back and forth between hotels, you can enjoy a two week stay for free.

Remember, due to the new rules implemented on July 25, 2008, you are now limited to 10 free room claims per month (one per chain). All of your multiple nights (at the same hotel) would need to be booked over the course of several months. With two or three travel partners, this can be expedited.

Your best bet is to plan your trips at least 6 months in advance. Me and my family have not paid for a hotel in over two years, because we always find the hotels we need. They always come up eventually for the dates we need - everything works out in the end. You just need to be persistent in your searching, and give yourself enough time to plan things out perfectly.

Remember, 10 free nights per month is 120 free nights per year. That is plenty - you just need enough time to arrange them in a suitable manner.


Howard Johnson Downtown - Spokane, Washington

Hotel Address: 1804 E Sycamore Ave, El Segundo, CA

Competitor Website: http://www.expedia.com

Availability: Through the end of February 2008

Occupancy: 2 Persons

Details: "Standard One Queen" or "Standard Two Queens"

Rate variation: Competitor rate around $25 less than Triprewards for almost all dates

Confirmed Approvals (Approver): 10 (CO,DJ,KM)

Special Comments: When filing, mention that this is the room without the microwave and fridge. Make sure you book your room without a micro/fridge when booking online.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LAX South Travelodge - El Segundo, California

Hotel Address: 1804 E Sycamore Ave, El Segundo, CA

Competitor Website: http://www.expedia.com

Availability: Through the end of April 2008

Occupancy: 2 Persons

Details: "Standard King Bed"

Rate variation: Competitor rate around $72 USD / Triprewards rate around $90 USD

Confirmed Approvals (Approver): 15 (CO,DJ,KM)

Special Comments: When filing this claim, be sure to book the room WITHOUT kitchenette. Then, refer them to Expedia's description which lacks mention of a kitchenette. Presto. Free room.

Days Inn Downtown Seattle, Washington

Hotel Address: 2205 Seventh Ave, Seattle, WA

Competitor Website: http://www.skoosh.com

Availability: Pretty much every day of 2008

Occupancy: 2 Persons

Details: "2 Double Beds Standard Room, Non Smoking"

Rate variation: Competitor rate around $78 USD / Triprewards rate around $99 USD

Confirmed Approvals (Approver): 2 (KM)

Special Comments: To get this deal, you must have a screenshot of the Skoosh.com before taxes rate. On some browsers it will show the total rate with no mention of the pre-tax total. To find the rate before taxes, simply load Skoosh.com through Kayak.com, their referral will unlock that information, allowing you to get your screenshot.