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From Wyndham: a $100 Rebate (but Mind the Hurdles)

In the news release touting its new promotion, Wyndham calls it “the richest offer of the year.” That doesn’t bode well for members of Wyndham’s Rewards program.

Offer Details

Through September 6, Wyndham Rewards members can earn $100 in Wyndham Rewards gift cards after two qualifying stays.

So far, the offer is a mixed bag. On the plus side, the effective $100 rebate is a hefty one. If earned after two separate nights at cheaper hotels in the Wyndham network, it would go a long way toward offsetting the stays’ costs. But—and it’s just the first “but” raised by this promotion—that $100 is in the form of gift cards that can only be redeemed for future Wyndham stays.

RELATED: InterContinental Discounts Award Stays in Mexico, L. America, the Caribbean

Companies give away their own gift cards because they know many of them will never be redeemed. And the cost to service the few that are redeemed will be much less than their face value, since the company is giving away its own product.

Strike one.

Next up: another value-eroding restriction. Those gift cards must be redeemed by October 31.

Strike two.

And then there’s this about those gift cards: “That’s four $25 gift card codes you can use on four separate stays in the U.S. and Canada.” That’s right, not only must the gift cards be used for Wyndham stays, and relatively soon, they must be redeemed in $25 increments, for four separate Wyndham stays.

Strike three.

Deal or No Deal

If you’re willing and able to jump through hoops, this offer could be worth as much as $100. More likely, however, it will be worth less. Much less.

This is a textbook example of cheesy marketing, dangling a juicy payoff in the headline, which turns out to be riddled with hurdles, restrictions, and gotchas.

Wyndham made a big splash a year ago, when it rolled out a revamped Rewards program featuring an industry first: Free award nights at all 7,500-plus Wyndhams were priced at 15,000 points. That move appeared to signal a new seriousness in Wyndham’s commitment to offering travelers a high-value rewards program. With this latest promotion, that commitment can no longer be assumed.

Reader Reality Check

How much would this promotion’s gift cards be worth to you?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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