While it's nice to offer promotions, how many free night certificates go unredeemed? You stay your nights, qualify for a free category 1-5 free night, then do you actually use them? For me, these stays are accumulated on business travel. Staying at a Courtyard or Springhill is out of convenience. When I'm on vacation with my family, I'm not staying near an airport. I want to stay at a full service Marriott or vacation villa. Guess what? I can't use my free night certificate for any of these becaue they are category 7 or higher. There is no process to combine multiple free night certificates for a higher category hotel. There is a one time exception to convert them into points. I'm guessing the majority go unused and Marriott is not out anything. However, they gave us a nice promotion!
Reward your members by actually giving them a promotion they can use!
Very true. And it shines as a Cat 4 mainly because there are limited dining choices, otherwise it would be a 6 or maybe even 7.
What about convincing Chase to make the free night cert good at any Marriott, any category? That would work for me, and be, of course, based on availability (the catch?)
I hate to be contrary on this, but free is free, and I love these certificates. I use 100 percent of the certificates I earn. Indeed, as I've suggested in the past, I'm available to help folks holding expiring coupons - if you can't use them, I will. Yes, it's true - 5's are better than 4's, and most of these certificates are worthless if you want to spend a free night in NYC, but that's (to my mind) surprisingly short-sighted.... When in doubt, try something new or be generous (and revel in the joys of giving)....
All BS aside, may I suggest:
Like anadyr, I have used all of mine. In 3 years, I've used 12 promo certs (combintation of cat. 1-4 & cat. 1-5) and am sitting on 4 others (one more on the way after another stay this month to complete the current MegaBonus) which I will use before they expire.
Much of my travel is outside of the areas dominated by top-tier catergories, so I have no trouble finding places to use my certs. I'm using one at the Renaissance South Park in Charlotte, NC later this month (category 5). I used 2 category 4 certs in Bristol, England last fall. Will use a few in Arlington, VA in early November.
It may be getting harder to find places to use certs, but a it is far from impossible. I've stayed at some very nice category 4 and 5 properties, just not in places like NYC or London.