I am always on the look out for better ways to book travel. Certain markets make services like Rocketmiles a great value or later in the year where status has already been achieved. After shopping around for an upcoming trip, I stopped by Rocketmiles to shop for a hotel but didn’t book with them. That didn’t stop them from giving me $20.
What Is Rocketmiles?
Commissions are paid everywhere on the internet for almost everything. Hotels, in particular, incentivize third-party travel sites to move inventory because every single night, their product is perishable – that and no one calls an 800 number for reservations anymore.
Some sites pass that a portion of that commission to their customers in the form of cashback, points, or miles. Almost every travel loyalty program has a travel portal (American, United, Hilton, etc.) that gives back a portion of their commission in form of miles. You still buy from brands you know and love on their website, you just stop at the portals first to route the commission and your “reward”.
Rocketmiles and Pointshound were different. The two brands focused solely on hotels and paid out in miles instead of cashback. Other sites like Travelocity pay very little and it’s not worth stopping there first, as third-party bookings do not earn status or points for nearly all hotel chains.
Feeling Pressure From Competitors?
Perhaps they are feeling some competitive pressure, though Pointshound is probably not the source of competition right now. Upside has better prices, a huge incentive program, and a lot of publicity. Their hotels rarely price the same as other OTAs including those like Upside who may have cracked the code.
Pointshound, which is “powered” by Points.com also competes in the same space, but for a long time their bookings counted for status and points instead of third-party and thus ineligible bookings. That stopped a couple of years ago and so did my relationship with them. Status at hotel chains are just too important to me as I spend over a hundred nights every year on the road. Without status I would never ever get the elusive hotel status upgrades I have come to love.
I have long been suspicious of technology using means that are not immediately obvious to me in order to market goods and services and obtain intelligence. For example, despite turning off every possible manner by which Facebook could obtain marketing information, I am still rather certain that they are getting information from Apple based on what I am saying and my iPhone microphone picking it up (I found out it is, here is how to turn it off in case you want to). I bring this up because within 30 minutes of all of this taking place I received a solicitation from both Rocketmiles and Pointshound in my email – I have not visited Pointshound in years, the timing is far too coincidental.
Rocketmiles Gave Me $20 to Amazon – No Strings Attached
After I booked with Upside (about 20 minutes after I had run a query on Rocketmiles.com) I received an email from Rocketmiles with this interesting email:
It’s a shame for Rocketmiles that on this particular trip I had already booked with Upside. I used the claim code and applied it to my Amazon account, but as I have not yet spent that, I am not comfortable leaving it out in the open on the internet.
There was no gimmick, no special activity, no restriction on the credit to my account. It was applied freely and I carted something just to make sure. I am also sure why I received an Amazon gift card. While I had chosen Bitcoin, Alaska and American miles in the past, ever since I quit American Airlines this year I have moved my earnings elsewhere. The last reward I received from Rocketmiles was in Amazon credit. However, for some reason I doubt that if my last reward was in the form of miles that they would simply deposit them in my account. In this case they gave me a gift code to enter in to my account, even though they already have my account and login number. It wouldn’t be so easy to do the same with miles or points. Perhaps due to the easy transferability of Amazon gift cards, this is the easiest way to incentivize previous customers to come back.
How Does This Pay Off For Them?
This brought Rocketmiles back to the forefront of my mind, my inbox and my Amazon account. I was ready to spend the new funds and had already put something from my “save for later” pile back in the cart. I was thinking of them first, especially since I had a business trip that had come up where it made sense.
On a recent trip after the Free $20 email, I shopped all of my favorite brands and they were all far too expensive for convenient locations. Instead of booking farther out or just accepting a higher rate for my company, I then moved to Rocketmiles.com and found an affordable rate, for a name brand hotel, close to where I needed to be cheaper than the status stays I had considered. While a nearby Hyatt Place, Courtyard, and Hampton were all north of $200/nt (other brands even higher) I found that the price for my Crowne Plaza stay matched the IHG website, but Rocketmiles sent me a $70 gift card for the two-night stay to Amazon. Just last week I outlined my moral compass for using cash back or incentive sites for business purposes.
I booked with them for that stay and will continue to look at them whenever the price exceeds what I am comfortable paying, especially now that I have re-qualified for Hyatt, SPG/Marriott, Hilton and IHG for next year already.
Have you received something similar to bring you back to Rocketmiles or a similar site? Would $20 to Amazon (or a couple of thousand miles) be enough of an incentive to get you to look at Rocketmiles again?