Ritz-Carlton to Offer Reward Program to Attract Travelers

Ritz-Carlton will introduce a loyalty rewards program in response to declining room rates in the luxury hotel industry. The chain long insisted that its customers were not interested in such a scheme. But with the average cost of a Ritz room at $297 at the end of the second quarter, 19% below the 2008 rate, loyalty programs now hold an appeal.

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"We always said in the early days, we're not going to give you a toaster, we're going to give you service," Ritz President and COO Herve Humler told The Wall Street Journal. "That was part of the philosophy."

Marriot International (MAR), the chain's parent, will introduce the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program. Fairfield Inn and Courtyard by Marriot, both of which are owned by Marriot International, already offer points. A 20-night stay at a $300-a-night Ritz room will earn one or two nights at most other Ritz hotels, or 10 nights at a lower-end Marriot brand hotel.

The move is the latest by Ritz hotels to attract travelers. Earlier in the summer, many resorts offered free meals for children.