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Million Mile Secrets reader Jason emailed:
I’m doing an IHG (Candlewood Suites) mattress run tonight, my first one. I know that I need to actually show up at the hotel and physically check in in order to get the points.
Do I need to collect the keys? Do I need to go into the room?
Do I need to come back again the next day to check out? Hopefully not. If not, what do I do with the key card?
Do they care about what I’m doing?
What is a Mattress Run?
A “mattress run” is when you make a cheap booking at a hotel not because you need a place to stay for the night!
But because you need to get credit in a hotel’s loyalty program to keep your hotel elite status or to earn extra hotel points or to complete a promotion which requires you to stay a certain number of nights in a hotel.
Sometimes folks will stay the night during a mattress run, but usually someone just checks in and leaves.
If you’re just 1 or 2 nights away from getting a lot of extra points or renewing your hotel elite status (which gets you benefits like free internet or suite upgrades), it could be worth it to pay for a cheap hotel room even if you don’t plan on staying the night in the room.
For example, if a $70 hotel stay will get you 1 more year of free breakfast or internet or $200 in extra hotel points, it could be worth it.
You don’t have to stay in the hotel for a mattress run, but you could make it a fun trip for the family and let the kids enjoy the pool and eat the free breakfast the next day.
Jason could be mattress running to get extra points from IHG hotel’s The Big Win Promotion.
IHG The Big Win Promotion
The IHG Big Win promotion for Fall 2013 ends on December 31, 2013, but there’s another Big Win promotion starting on January 1, 2014.
When Jason registered for the IHG fall 2013 Big Win promotion, he got a personalized offer based on his IHG stay history.
Jason could earn a maximum of 50,000 points if he completed all the offers and earned the 25,000 point bonus.
So it could make sense for Jason to pay for 1 night in a hotel room he doesn’t plan on using if it will help him get the bonus points through the Big Win promotion.
Mattress Running Logistics
Jason has to physically check-in to the hotel, to earn credit in the hotel loyalty program for his mattress run. He can’t just book the room and NOT show up to check-in because he won’t get credit for the stay otherwise.
However, Jason could also have someone else check in the hotel for him if he adds someone else’s name to the hotel reservation. Jason could do this online or by calling the hotel.
Some hotels let you check-in via automatic machines in the lobby which are perfect for mattress runs!
Some folks say that all you need to do is get the key card from the front desk to get credit for your stay. And other folks say that you have to at least enter the room with the key card to activate the card.
I usually go back to my car after getting my key and don’t go up to the room when I mattress run. And I’ve always got the hotel stay credit.
You don’t have to return the key to the front desk if you leave immediately. If you go up to your room, you could leave the keys in the room and then leave.
Usually most hotels in the US do not require you to physically check-out. So Jason doesn’t have to come back the next day to check out. He can just leave the hotel after checking-in and should get the stay credit posted to his account.
Outside the US, hotels tend to be fussier and want you to physically check-out at the front desk. But I’m sure that many guests (such as yours truly) get up late and rush to the airport or business meetings without checking-out at the front desk!
Most hotels are franchised and the franchise owner is happy with the extra revenue and doesn’t really care that you don’t want to stay in the room at night.
And if you have a favorite hotel in town which you often use for mattress running, it helps to establish a relationship with the staff. You may even find a manger who lets you check-in over the phone without having to go the hotel once he or she understands why you’re mattress running!
You almost always have to go to the hotel and check-in for a mattress run and get your hotel room key.
But in the US, you don’t have to check-out of your room. You could just take the room key and go back to your car and drive home!