Rocketmiles is an incredibly smart program where you can earn thousands of points with Aeroplan or other airline reward programs while booking hotels in cities around the world at excellent prices.
The Chicago-based company was founded in 2012 and is headed up by American Jay Hoffmann, who used to work with the United Mileage Plus program and at Groupon and other companies.
“I’ve seen what works, “ he told me in a telephone call prior to the announcement. “We work like Hotwire or like Groupon but instead of giving cash discounts for a hotel we give mileage discounts.”
It’s a brilliant concept because many hotels don’t like to discount their rooms online for fear of cheapening their product or aggravating people who paid higher rates. With Rocketmiles, they give away extra airline points but the price holds at roughly the same level as you’d pay with Expedia or Booking.com or other sites.
I checked it out and found a three-night stay at the Sutton Place in Vancouver later this month at a cost of $152 a night. But with Rocketmiles I’d have earned 7,000 airline miles. Similar deals at varying prices were found for dozens of other properties in the city.
It’s a great deal when you think about the number of extra miles you earn. The 7,000 miles you’d earn at the Sutton Place is a little more than one-quarter of the 25,000 miles you need to fly to San Francisco from Toronto with a Classic Rewards flight with Aeroplan. Those flights typically cost about $700 these days, so you’re effectively “earning” more than 25 per cent of that $700, which means a value of more than $175.
That means you’re pretty much getting a “buy two nights, get one free” at a rate of $152 for a quality hotel like the Sutton Place in a wonderful city like Vancouver. I’m no marketing genius, but I find this hugely attractive.
“We’re very excited to be launching with Aeroplan,” Hoffman told me. “The average Rocketmiles customer books 12 trips a year. If you multiply that by 7,000 air miles that they get with most bookings, that means more than 80,000 air miles a year. That’s enough for a business class trip or for two people to get away in winter.”
Amen to that.
Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage program, Etihad Guest, Flying Blue, Frontier EarlyReturns, HawaiianMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, United MileagePlus, US Airways Dividend Miles, and Virgin America Elevate.
Not only do hotels not like discounting their brand, they like that Rocketmiles is bringing in more “premium” travellers, often business folks, Hoffman told me.
We all like to save money on a hotel bill, but many of us also love to collect our points in the expectation of cashing in with a “freebie” down the road. It might be taking your husband or wife on a golf trip or your kids to Paris. But the point is we all like to earn and cash in points, and Rocketmiles seems to me like a great way to accelerate that pleasure.
“For 25 million people worldwide, loyalty programs enable that winter break to San Juan or personal adventure to New Zealand,” Hoffmann said. “Our goal is to make that vacation happen faster.”
There is something of a catch to all of this. Generally speaking, hotel points aren’t available to folks who avail themselves of airline points with Rocketmiles. It’s probably worth it, because you’re not likely to earn $170 in value from three nights at a hotel. But if your hotel program is truly sensational and you want to collect hotel points versus Rocketmiles, that might be a better option.
Booking airline reward seats can be tricky, as we all know. So you might prefer keeping hotel points for that reason and bypassing Rocketmiles.
But if you want to earn points with Aeroplan or other popular airline mileage brands, this looks like a very good deal.
As a special launch promotion for Aeroplan Members, first time Rocketmiles users will get an additional 3,000 bonus Miles until April 6, 2014, on top of the thousands of regular reservation miles earned. Visit www.rocketmiles.com/aeroplan3kbonus.