On 1st January, Le Club AccorHotels (the loyalty scheme for Mercure, Novotel, M Gallery, Sofitel, Ibis etc) made some sweeping changes to its programme.
We had received plenty of notice, but it will still come as a bit of a jolt to anyone who used to earn Accor status via promotions.
Accor runs a lot of generous promotions offering bonus points. We saw offers last year offering 10,000 points – which converted to 10,000 Avios – for just four stays. Those bonus points count towards status. Status stay bonuses also counted, so once you had status it was easier to keep it. This meant that hitting the 25,000 point annual target for Platinum was not too tricky.
On 1st January 2017, Accor changed the way you earn status in its programme.
There are a lot of moving parts here, but the headline changes are:
Status bonuses no longer count towards status
Point bonuses no longer count towards status
Points earned via the Places Facebook app or from partners (admittedly, there are not many of those) no longer count towards status
The number of points required to achieve or retain status is being reduced – but probably not by enough to make up for the three factors above
The net result is very simple. The only points that count towards status are the base points from your stays or by holding a meeting.
You now need to earn 14,000 status points (was 25,000) to retain or earn Platinum status. You will earn 25 status points for every €10 spent.
Gold status will require 30 nights or 7,000 status points (was 10,000). Silver needs 10 nights or 2,000 status points (was 2,500).
This means that Platinum will require (14,000 / 2.5) €5,600 of pre-tax spending or 60 nights. This is not completely bonkers – Marriott requires 75 nights for top tier status – but will not be easy given that the majority of Accor hotels are midrange and priced accordingly.
Status moves to a calendar year basis
The programme has also moved to a calendar year basis. Historically, you would earn status based on a rolling 12-month period which was handy if you had a major overseas project running from, say, October to February.
This new structure is easier to understand. Some people will benefit because you can technically get status for up to 23 months if you hit it very early in the calendar year with an expensive stay in January. This is because you get your new status for the rest of the current calendar year and all of the following year.
It is not clear if you get a ‘soft landing’ or not if you fail to requalify. There is an example on the website of a member dropping from Gold to Silver – as opposed to Gold to nothing – but the example is based on the member earning 3,000 status points which have got them Silver anyway.
Coupled with the loss of free Accor Platinum status for holders of the American Express Platinum card – this benefit was withdrawn last April – and you may see a major thinning of the Accor elite ranks going forward. My status, via American Express, runs until December 2017.
You could be charitable and say that thinning of the ranks should lead to better benefits for the elites that remain. The experience from similar changes and the introduction of Spire Elite status at IHG Rewards Club is not encouraging.