The entrance of the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
The entrance of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. - 
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Kai Ryssdal: Up until now, the reward for being a loyal customer at the Ritz-Carlton hotels, has been it's own reward. You get to spend the night at the Ritz. No freebies or incentive programs for the best customers. Just a staff anticipating your every move and your pillow fluffed just to your liking.

But as Janet Babin reports, it turns out even the poshest clients of the Ritz are looking for a little payback.

Janet Babin: Guests at the Ritz-Carlton expect to pay top dollar. In return, they expect the very best service, and hopefully no bedbugs. But between online discounts and a raging recession, luxury hotels are a tough sell right now.

Michelle Chang's an analyst at Morningstar.

Michelle Chang: You know they really have to work harder to convince the consumer that it's worth x amount of dollars to be in a luxury hotel.

So the Ritz, part of Marriott, has begun a rewards program. A typical two-night stay starts at about $600, and is worth about 5,100 points. Around 50,000 points earns you a free night.

Mark Ashley: Honestly, I don't see a huge bargain here for travelers; I don't see a great deal.

That's blogger Mark Ashley at

Ashley: I don't think it creates something that luxury travelers are going to really gravitate toward.

But the program may fill a few additional beds, and that might be just what the Ritz needs right now.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.