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The start of September 2023 saw some minor, clarifying changes made to Marriott Bonvoy T&C's.

(1) Under T&C's 2.1.b Bonvoy members can earn points on their own room plus 2 additional rooms during a stay.  Previously this required the member to "stay in one of the 3 rooms".  This has now been clarified to say that all 3 rooms must have the same check-in and check-out dates. Presumably this is to prevent the member collecting points for say 11 nights by staying only 1 night, while guests in the other rooms stayed  5 nights each.

The member must pay for all 3 rooms by paying a "qualifying" (non-discounted) rate or apply an Award Redemption for all of the rooms.

The benefit is aimed at families or groups staying together for a single vacation.

(2) T&C's for Marriott Homes & Villas were also clarified in a similar manner to align with hotel stays.  A member can earn (5) points per USD spent for up to 3 homes, provided the homes are in the same city and the bookings are for identical check-in and check-out dates.  Also, as with hotels, Elite Night Credits are only received for 1 of the homes (ie the one in which the member stayed).

Virgin Australia has launched an offer looking to attract Qantas Gold status (and higher) frequent flyers.

If you apply prior to 15 September, Virgin Australia's Velocity will match your Qantas FF status for 3 months. If you fly only once during that period, that status is extended for a further 12 months.

To apply, email with "Velocity Discover Gold trial offer" in the heading.

Perks of  Velocity Gold Status include complimentary Virgin Australia Lounge access, priority boarding, preferential seating, additional baggage allowances (not available when travelling on a Lite fare), and bonus Velocity Points and Status Credits when guests book and fly with Virgin Australia.

Gold Status with both of Australia's major carriers provides a lot of flexibility.  Qantas is a member of the OneWorld alliance and has a cooperative arrangement with Emirates Airlines.  Virgin isn't currently a member of any alliance, but has an eclectic collection of partners who are, so can readily find a partner to take you almost anywhere (with good perks).

Terms & Conditions apply...

Finally, the wait is over!

Set upon the banks of the iconic River Clyde and just a stone's throw away from Central Station (and not much further to Queen St Station), The Virgin Hotels Glasgow is an easy walk to Central Station, St Enoch underground station and Buchanan Street (Glasgow's shopping area), making it an ideal base for exploring all that the beautiful city of Glasgow has to offer.

Virgin Hotels (the luxury lifestyle hotel brand by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson) has a loyalty program - The Know.  No points earning to think about.  Just sign up and your loyalty is rewarded at every stay with room upgrades (st availability), member discounted rates and free cocktails during the Spirit Hour.  Members in The Know can also tailor their preferences for the duration of their stays.  You can book through Rewarding Travel - our associated travel agency.

From the vibrant dining & drinking scenes of Commons Club, to the breathtaking views from Highyard, come discover this wonderful new addition to the city. 

The Virgin Hotels Glasgow complements the The Virgin Hotels Edinburgh which as we anticipated in our post of March 2022,  opened 1 June 2022.

Qantas/Emirates airlines collaberation authority extended for a further 5 years by regulator

Qantas/Emirates airlines collaberation authority extended for a further 5 years by regulator

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) this week re-authorised the collaboration between Qantas and Emirates Airlines.

In its determination, the ACCC said the conduct between the two parties has not materially changed since initial authorisation was granted in 2013 and that “The ACCC considers that the conduct would be likely to result in public benefits, in the form of: increased connectivity and convenience; facilitating capacity restoration and expansion; and, better frequent flyer program benefits. The ACCC also considers the conduct is likely to result in limited public benefits through stimulation of tourism and trade,” the determination reads. A little odd considering Qantas' lobbying against the granting of 3 additional slots to Qatar in mid-July resulted in the Federal Minister for Transport (with advice received from the ACCC) rejecting Qatar's application.. 

Qatar was looking to add 21 flights per week into hubs such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from the Middle East. The Federal Government sought out the opinion of Qantas as part of Qatar Airways’ application process for bilateral air rights. Qantas opposed the bid on the grounds that it would cause Australian job losses, according to The Australian..  Qatar Airways’ application rejection came amid high international airfares, which some attribute to a lack of competition.

At the time of its submission, Qatar Airways’ CEO, was amongst those criticising Qantas’ influence here. He highlighted that his airline continued to operate flights throughout the pandemic, even when Qantas suspended all flights except government-subsidised repatriation flights and reduced its local labour force.

If true, then this latest decision will do nothing to increase competition on key Australian routes..  

There is a caveat to the approval, however. The ACCC said it is concerned that the coordination between the two carriers could harm competition in the market between Sydney and Christchurch, New Zealand, as Air New Zealand is the only other carrier operating the route. Because of this, Qantas and Emirates have been directed to “provide regular updates on passenger revenue and operating costs to enable us to monitor competition on this route over the next five years,” the ACCC said.

This article originally appeared in The Guardian on 25 July 2023.  Excerpts are repeated here to help spread the warning to users of loyalty programs, like you our readers. For the complete article and links to related ones, you should read the original article (which has copyright owned by The Guardian).

The ACCC has issued an urgent warning to customers of some of Australia’s largest loyalty reward programs, including Qantas Frequent Flyer, after detecting a new scam that targets valuable points. The National Anti-Scam Centre has received 209 reports to Scamwatch in the past four months, of the scam targeting Qantas frequent flyer, Telstra and Coles loyalty programs customers.

Australians lost a record amount of more than $3.1bn to scams in 2022, up from the $2bn lost in 2021, according to ACCC figures. New data from Commbank released on Tuesday showed Australians are becoming more cautious of answering the phone because of the increase, with three in four (76%) people only picking up if they recognise the number.

With the new scam, consumers receive a text message or email stating their loyalty points are expiring. It includes a link to a fake website, which prompts customers to log in. Customers may also be prompted to provide credit card details to use loyalty points. Scammers then steal customers’ points, their login details and personal information to use on other platforms and commit identity fraud.

The vast majority of reports to Scamwatch received so far are in relation to Qantas frequent flyer, Telstra and Coles loyalty programs, but Australians should be aware that any loyalty program could be targeted, ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said.The National Anti-Scam Centre has contacted the companies that have been impersonated by scammers and is working with web host providers to have the fake websites taken down, to minimise harm to the community,”

Lowe said. “We are very concerned that Australians experiencing cost-of-living pressures may be more susceptible to these scams. Scammers are deliberately panicking consumers by claiming their points are expiring soon. We urge people to immediately delete or ignore any message regarding a loyalty program that contains a link.

We advise our readers to be vigilant and if receiving any such emails or texts, to not use those links, but instead go directly to their loyalty program website and check there. There are details on the official sites that provide contact details should you need to speak to anyone.

Further details on the ACCC report can be found....

COMO Orchard launch brings with it COMO's first hometown property & (very) special launch offer

COMO Orchard launch brings with it COMO's first hometown property & (very) special launch offer

The launch of COMO Orchard - a destination concept located at 30 Bideford Road, Singapore that unites COMO’s signature house brands and new partnerships into one inspiring lifestyle space -  includes COMO Metropolitan Singapore, which marks the hotel group’s debut homecoming to Singapore shores.

COMO Metropolitan Singapore offers the quintessential Singaporean experience with the best in COMO Group’s hospitality, fashion, wellness and cuisine across 19 floors, including including:

  • COMO Shanbhala - the luxury wellness and spa centre; and
  • COTE Singapore, a Korean Steakhouse from Simon Kim, who has garnered Michelin stars for his restaurants in New York and Miami.

  • Be one of the first to stay at this exciting new hotel and enjoy 4 nights for the price of 3.
    • Book by 31 August 2023 for a minimum stay of 4 nights
    • Stay between 19 September and 21 December 2023.
    In addition, Comoclub members will earn an exclusive bonus of 1,000 Comocredits for every night stayed!
    Bookings can be made through our associated travel agency, Rewarding Travel.

    T&C's apply

    Turkish Airlines debut in Australia still in a holding pattern

    Turkish Airlines debut in Australia still in a holding pattern

    Expectations of an announcement last week fell flat, however the Star Alliance carrier says it aims to reach Australia soon. Turkish Airlines could land in Australia as soon as December, but with a catch...

    Turkish Airlines says it is in advanced negotiations with both Sydney and Melbourne as it aims to introduce flights to Australia, with ambitions of touching down at either airport for the first time potentially before the end of 2023.

    If and when Turkish Airlines does commence operations down under, it would be the only mainland European carrier to fly to Australia. 
    Australians are also no stranger to Turkish Airlines, with the carrier welcoming nearly 119,000 Aussies on board in 2022 through various codeshare agreements it holds with other airlines

    The airline is currently working through some legal loopholes before being able to add either city to its expansive network of nearly 130 destinations worldwide, however Turkish Airlines Chairman Dr Ahmet Bolat recently said in an interview that he was hoping for a final decision by next month.

    But there appear to be two main (related) catches:

    1. Lack of aircraft capable of non-stop flights

    While Turkish Airlines has maintained an office in Sydney for some 35 years, another major problem standing in the way is the lack of an aircraft capable of making the non-stop journey from Istanbul to either Sydney or Melbourne.

    At a flying time of at least 17 hours non-stop, the airline is banking on a future order of up to 15 Airbus A350-1000XLR or Boeing 777X as being the missing link, however neither aircraft are expected to be ready until near the end of this decade.

    For now, flights to either Sydney or Melbourne could become a reality on its ready-made fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with a refuelling stop in Singapore in both directions.

    “Our main goal is to fly directly to both Sydney and Melbourne every day, with the production of a new generation of ultra-long-range aircraft,” Bolat said.

    2. The need to be able to sell tickets for the link between Singapore and Australia

    For now, the airline requires ‘fifth freedom’ rights to sell tickets on the sector between Singapore and both Sydney and Melbourne for Australian flights to make economic sense.  This would enable it to pick up and drop off passengers in Singapore.

    Turkish Airlines operates the world’s largest network and currently holds rights to land in Australia up to four times per week under an existing air rights agreement with Australia, however Bolat has ambitions of eventually offering daily flights to both Sydney and Melbourne.

    “We are eager to add Australia to our network and connect Australian people to the world with our award-winning service quality.”, Bolat said.

    Turkish Airlines has won several Skytrax World Airline awards, including Best European Airline 2023 and best in both Economy and Business cabins specifically.
    Miles&Smiles, its loyalty program alst has some very attractive features.

    Dis-loyalty program to be launched by an Accor division

    Dis-loyalty program to be launched by an Accor division

    Ennismore, a group that that encompasses several hotel brands such as SO/, The Hoxton and Mondrian will launch it's own membership program on July 27, 2023.

    Using "Dis-loyalty" as the program name seems to be a counter-intuitive marketing tactic.

    A "teaser" video has been released and the only details so far are that "Ennismore is excited to announce Dis-loyalty – a new travel and food membership that beats boring and brings together 10 brands from our lifestyle collective… stay tuned for more…"

    Ennismore and Accor entered a joint venture in 2021 to create a new autonomous entity, with Accor holding a majority shareholding. 

    In 2022, Ennismore expanded across the lifestyle and leisure segments with the additions of Rixos, the luxury all-inclusive brand, and Paris Society, a leading operator of luxury restaurants & entertainment venues (including Maison Russe in Paris)., creating three new distinct business units.

    How this new program will sit against Accor's overall loyalty/lifestyle program Accor Live Limitless will be intriguing.  I guess we will learn more in a week's time.

    (Pictured is the lobby of SO/ in Paris)

    GHA launches loyalty partnership with Regent Seven Seas | Triple rewards for limited time

    GHA launches loyalty partnership with Regent Seven Seas | Triple rewards for limited time

    Members of the GHA Discovery Program can earn elite status by sailing with one of the world’s leading luxury cruise lines.

    In an interesting development, Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands, has entered a loyalty partnership with luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Regent), which offers access to 500+ ports of call around the globe.

    This follows the recent trend of luxury hotel chains launching their own luxury cruise lines (Aman, Belmond, Four Seasons, Accor's Orient-Express, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Club and Virgin Voyages), although only 3 currently have ships sailing.

    GHA DISCOVERY members, who have access to 800 hotels, resorts and palaces operated by 40 hotel brands in 100 countries, are rewarded with the program’s rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars (D$1 equal to US$1).

    Through this exclusive partnership, the program’s members will now enjoy the additional benefit of earning DISCOVERY Dollars by reserving a voyage with Regent and will be able to redeem those benefits in any GHA hotel, resort or palace, but not to book cruises or while sailing onboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships.

    Benefits for GHA DISCOVERY members
    • Between D$750 and D$2,500 for every Regent cruise reservation made, which can be spent at any GHA hotel or resort worldwide, valid for 12 months.
    • Fast-track upgrade to GHA DISCOVERY Titanium status, valid for over 12 months (the remainder of the calendar year in which it is earned, plus all of the following calendar year), offering benefits such as double room upgrades, special amenities, early check-in, and late checkout at GHA hotels and resorts worldwide.
    • On-board welcome gift of premium chocolates and Champagne with any Regent voyage reserved by a GHA DISCOVERY member.
    Launch Promotion

    To celebrate the launch of the partnership, GHA DISCOVERY members can collect triple rewards of up to D$7,500, The offer is valid for bookings until 30 September 2023 and cruises departing on or before 31 December 2023.

    Our thoughts

    While the luxury hotel chains of Aman, Belmond, Four Seasons, Accor's Orient-Express, Ritz-Carlton Yacht Club and Virgin Voyages have chosen to create their own cruise lines, GHA instead chose to forge an alliance with a well-establisd existing luxury line in Regent.

    This possibly reflects their background in managing alliances, but also has the advantage of providing immediate benefits for its Discovery members (and potentially many new passengers for Regent) without any teething problems.  

    The value of Discovery program should aslo not be lost by Regent passengers, who would be wise to join Discovery prior to booking their next cruise

    For more information regarding GHA Discovery, refer to our comprehensive guide to GHA Discovery, which has details on how to join.
    For more information on the GHA/Regent alliance, please see the Frequently Asked Questions here.