Free: 250 American Airlines AAdvantage miles for joining Best Western Rewards

American Airlines AAdvantage Best WesterLooking for a quick and painless way to top off your American Airlines mileage account? Sign up for a Best Western Rewards card (free) and provide them with your AAdvantage number.

You’ll earn an instant 250 miles, and bonus miles each time you stay in a Best Western property between February 6 and April 11, 2011. On your first stay, you’ll get another 500 miles, followed by 750 on your second, and 1000 on each following stay.

Even if you don’t have any Best Western stays planned, the 250 miles may be all it takes to keep an otherwise dormant account alive, or to get your account to the point where you can actually use your miles for something worthwhile.

The promotion page is here – which is where you’ll find more details on the stay-to-earn deal.

Need another 150 miles? Check out this American Airlines Bose promotion!

Gadling Q & A with Daniel Edward Craig, author and hotel consultant

Daniel Edward Craig shares a name with the current James Bond, and like 007, he’s a world traveler and a man of many hats. He’s taken a career in hotel management and a keen ear for storytelling and parlayed it into a murder mystery book series, an engaging industry blog, and a hotel and social media consultancy. Here he tells Gadling about his history in the travel world, who’s providing the best social media content for travelers, and what’s next in hotel trends.

Tell me about your history in the hotel and travel business.

I’ve worked in hotels off and on for about twenty years. I started on the front desk at the Delta Chelsea Inn in Toronto and went on to work for a range of hotels, from big-box to boutique, in positions ranging from duty manager to vice president. Most recently, I was vice president and general manager of Opus Hotels in Vancouver and Montreal.

What title do you think best captures your profession these days

These days I work as an author and hotel consultant. I left Opus at the end of 2007, shortly after my first novel was published, to complete the second and third novels in the Five-Star Mystery series. Now I am working on a fourth book as well as various consulting projects for the hotel industry, ranging from social media strategy to executive coaching. I also continue to write my blog and articles about the hotel industry. It’s been a rough few years for hotels, and I think we could all use some levity, so in my writing I try to take a lighthearted look at issues.

Do you think you’ll ever go back to managing a hotel?

I hope so. Hotels are my first love; writing is secondary. As a hotel manager, I feel fully engaged and at my best, whereas as a writer all my neurotic tendencies come out. Writing is a solitary profession, and I’m better as part of a team. Once I finish my current book at the end of this year, I’ll decide what’s next, and that could very well involve a return to hotels full-time. I’ll always write, but after a year of 4:00 AM mornings and late nights, I promised myself never to write books and manage a hotel at the same time.

What are you most critical of as a hotel guest?

I’m extremely service oriented. I’ll cut a property a lot of slack if it isn’t my style or if facilities are limited, but bad service can ruin my trip. In particular, I dislike overly scripted, apathetic service. I love a hotel with originality and a lot of life in the lobby. And I look for soul, a combination of design, culture, clientele and spirit, that intangible feeling that I’m in the right place. That’s why I prefer independent boutique hotels – it’s easier for them to do these things well.

What’s your favorite hotel?

Don’t make me choose! It depends on my mood and the nature of travel. I was just in Chicago and was blown away by the new Elysian Hotel. If I’m relaxing or working, I like the Four Seasons. I can’t always afford to stay in them, but I will splurge on a drink in the lounge and will hang around until I’m asked to leave. My favorite is the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris. But I also love contemporary boutique hotels. I’m a city boy, and when I feel like socializing I want to stay in a hotel with a scene, like the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, and the Clift in San Francisco. XV Beacon in Boston is also one of my faves.

Given the many social media experts today, how do you stand apart?

I’d never call myself a social media expert. Who can keep up? I’m a hotelier first, who happens to know a lot about social media and reputation management. Social media allows me to combine my two professions as a hotelier and an author, because essentially it’s about storytelling. Social media touches every department in a hotel, and as a former general manager I understand the interplay and interdependence involved, and to rise above individual departmental interests to develop a strategy that benefits the hotel as a whole.

What hotels/travel companies do you think are doing social media “well”?

I think there are a number of hotel companies that do certain aspects of social media well, but nobody is doing anything particularly innovative. HKHotels in New York are doing a great job of reputation management. Best Western runs a good Facebook page. InterContinental Hotel Group makes great concierge videos. The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee manages Twitter well. Red Carnation Hotels in London and Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver have good blogs. Joie de Vivre Hotels does great contests.

Hoteliers are great storytellers, and with all the comings and goings of guests we have a rich resource of content to draw from, and yet this isn’t translating to social media. A lot of hotel content is trite and uninspiring, and most of the voices sound the same: perky and vaguely annoying. Hotels can learn a lot from online reviewers, who spin the best stories, with strong points of view, hooks, humor, trivia and facts. I think there are huge opportunities for the hotel industry, and I’d love to help a hotel become the social media hotel in a given destination.

What made you start writing murder mysteries?

I always wanted to write, and naively thought that writing a mystery would be fun and easy. They say write what you know, and at the time I was working as a duty manager, so I set it in a hotel. Ten years later, Murder at the Universe was published. For me it was a one-off, but my publisher liked the idea of a hotel manager who writes mysteries set in hotels, so they contracted me to develop it into a series. Since then I’ve published Murder at Hotel Cinema and Murder at Graverly Manor.

After three novels, I started to get bored with my protagonist, the hapless hotelier Trevor Lambert, and all that whining. And there could only be so many murders in his hotels before people started suspecting him. The book I’m finishing up now is non-fiction, an irreverent insider’s look at hotels, written for travelers.

What do you see as the next big trends in hotels?

Mobile is huge. Increasingly, people are researching, booking and recommending travel via smart phones. Social media will grow as people continue to bypass travel journalists and hotels for travel information in favor of travelers, friends and social networks, all from the palm of the hand. When it comes down to it, however, above all hotel guests still want comfort, convenience and value. They just have much larger audiences to air their grievances to when they don’t get what they want.

What’s next for you?

After I finish the book, I’ll put book writing on hold for now and will continue to work on hotel projects, to blog, and to write articles. I’m starting to book quite a few speaking engagements in 2011. My platform as an author and hotelier is quite unique, and social media reputation management are hot topics. If I find a good job with a progressive hotel company, great, but until then I have no shortage of things to keep me occupied.

Read all about Daniel Edward Craig, his books, and his blog at his website,

New Mexico hotel pool closed after 2 guests contract Legionnaire’s disease

Our friends at USA Today are reporting the Best Western hotel in downtown Socorro, N.M., had to close its pool after health authorities found two people who stayed there contracted Legionnaire’s disease.

While the New Mexico health department continues to investigate whether or not the pool is the source of the problem, it’s important to point out a few things about Legionnaires:

While the cases are rare, they are severe. Legionnaire’s disease is an acute respiratory infection usually contracted from infected water that is breathed in or ingested.

Back in December, the Kimpton’s EPIC hotel in Miami was shut down when the local health department suspected the same type of problem in the hotel’s drinking water. In that case, one of the guests with Legionnaire’s disease had died but in the end, the hotel was given the all-clear by health officials and it was determined that the hotel was not the carrier of Legionnaires.

Meanwhile in New Mexico, the Best Western remains open while its pool and spa areas go through a cleaning process, including a thorough inspection of the hotel’s water system.

[via USA Today]

Best Western announces new hotel points matching program

If you have hotel points from other hotels, Best Western will match them. Of course, there’s a catch: you have to be a member of the Best Western Rewards loyalty program and have elite status with another hotel group.

Best Western’s new “Status Match, No Catch” program rewards members of its free loyalty points program with matching elite status of any other hotel loyalty program-free of charge.

Here’s how it works:

Starting now, new and existing Best Western Rewards members can upgrade their Rewards status by contacting Best Western and providing proof of elite status with another hotel loyalty program. Best Western Rewards points will be earned at the equivalent elite status immediately.

According to the hotel’s website, members of the elite status loyalty program with Best Western enjoy:

  • Gold Elite (awarded after 10 qualified nights in one calendar year), which earns a 10 percent Rewards bonus
  • Platinum Elite (awarded after 15 qualified nights in one calendar year), which earns a 15 percent Rewards bonus
  • Diamond Elite (awarded after 30 qualified nights in one calendar year), which earns a 30 percent Rewards bonus.

Time to start digging through your old accounts for those extra hotel points.

Creative ways to work the system for cheap travel

Call it cheap. Call it resourceful. But when you’ve got travel on the brain and you’re on a budget, you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

A post on embraces the cheap with ingenuity. They’ve pulled together a list of ideas for shaving a few dollars off of some of those travel necessities. Some are a little questionable, others are tried-and-true favorites, but they all do the trick. Try them for yourself:

  • Access free wi-fi from hotel parking lots. (“As long as you don’t camp out for too long, you’ll rarely get hassled.”) Holiday Inns and Best Westerns come highly recommended.
  • Ask for the flagpole/boiler/ice machine room (the one that nobody wants because it’s too noisy)
  • Earn a free Whopper at Burger King after answering the phone survey found on receipts
  • Ask the parents to come along so you can use the senior discount
  • Grab food from the complimentary breakfast and save it for a snack or lunch
  • Snatch pre-read magazines from seat-backs on the way off the plane
  • Buy food souvenirs from local grocery stores instead of tourist shops
  • Make your own oatmeal, with the help of the in-room coffee maker
  • Take advantage of membership discounts through Costco, AAA, and AMEX

What about you? What are your own unusual tips for saving money?