In summary, it nets off. Taken across all 7,000 hotels, the average number of points required for a free night remains virtually the same. There is a slight rebasing towards the higher end, with lower end hotels going down and the rest more likely to be going up, but this is not across the board.
You can find out more in my article here.
The other major change revealed on Thursday was new pricing for Marriott Travel Packages.
What is a Marriott Travel Package?
Historically Marriott Travel Packages have been the best way to redeem your Marriott Rewards points – with one caveat. You need to be happy spending seven nights in the same hotel. If you’re not the sort of person who would ever spend a week in a Marriott / SPG hotel then there is nothing to see here.
You are redeeming a large pile of points for seven nights of hotel credit (which must be booked in one block, at the same hotel, so availability issues may arise) and a chunk of airline miles. You get the airline miles immediately but have a year to do the hotel stay.
The miles do not need to be redeemed for a flight linked to the hotel stay. If you redeem for a low category package you can upgrade to a higher category package later by paying the extra points.
This is the new JW Marriott Maldives, opening in January and the sort of hotel where you might want to spend seven nights:
How things are if you redeem TODAY:
At present, Travel Packages are quite complex. There are three redemption charts (I am ignoring the one which is exclusive to United Airlines and is more generous than these two). This is the one covering Avios and Virgin Flying Club:
and this is the one covering other airlines. The key ones for HFP readers are probably Miles & More, Flying Blue, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest and Singapore Airlines Krisflyer:
Here is the current redemption chart:
You can do the maths easily to see why Travel Packages are a good deal. However, remember that Marriott Rewards offers ‘five nights for four’ so you should multiple the figures above by six and not seven for comparison.
7 nights in a Category 9 hotel on its own = 45k x 6 = 270,000 points
As an Avios or Virgin Atlantic Travel Package:
7 nights in a Category 9 hotel PLUS 50,000 miles = 320,000 points
7 nights in a Category 9 hotel PLUS 120,000 miles = 390,000 points
Given that the cost of the hotel is fixed, you are getting 1 Avios or Virgin mile per additional Marriott Rewards point on top of the hotel price when you redeem.
It is a little less generous if you redeem for an airline scheme in the 2nd table, such as Lufthansa Miles and More. You are getting 85,000 miles for the additional 120,000 Marriott Rewards points (1.4 points per mile) if you take the most expensive Category 9 package.
How things are if you redeem from August:
These are the two key charts. As you can see, Travel Packages have been massively simplified:
There are no longer two airline charts. All airlines transfer at the same rate.
There are no longer four mileage options. It is reduced to 50,000 miles and 100,000 miles.
You need to compare this with the new reward chart from August:
Let’s do the same maths but with a Category 8 hotel using ‘standard’ pricing:
7 nights in a Category 8 hotel on its own = 85k x 6 = 510,000 points
As a Travel Package:
7 nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 50,000 miles = 675,000 points
7 nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 100,000 miles = 750,000 points
Looking at the 50,000 mile package, you are spending an extra 165,000 points to get 50,000 miles. This is terrible – the conversion rate is more than 3 Marriott points per mile.
The 100,000 miles package is a bit better but still far worse than you currently get. You are spending 240,000 additional Marriott points to get 100,000 miles – so 2.4 points per mile.
Since I value a Marriott point at 0.5p, it makes little sense to buy a Travel Package to redeem on a ‘standard’ date. You would be paying between 1.2p and 1.5p per mile.
What is NOT clear is whether the new Travel Package pricing allows you to redeem on ‘peak’ nights or not. IF it does AND if you wanted to stay on a ‘peak’ night, the maths improves. Back to our Category 8 example:
7 PEAK nights in a Category 8 hotel on its own = 100k x 6 = 600,000 points
As a Travel Package:
7 PEAK nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 50,000 miles = 675,000 points
7 PEAK nights in a Category 8 hotel PLUS 100,000 miles = 750,000 points
This is A LOT better. For both packages, you are trading 1.5 Marriott points per mile for the additional payment.
This is STILL WORSE than you are getting today (1 point per mile) but I would consider it acceptable. If I thought I would get 0.5p per Marriott point on a hotel redemption then I am ‘paying’ 0.75p per airline mile and I would happily do that.
You could actually be (almost) no worse off ….
It is even better if you are transferring to an airline scheme which was previously on Table 2 – Miles & More, Flying Blue, Emirates, Etihad, Krisflyer etc.
With a Travel Package today for Table 2, you are spending (assuming you take the 85,000 miles option) 120,000 extra Marriott points to get 85,000 airline miles. This works out at 1.41 Marriott points per mile.
Using my peak date calculations above, you will be trading 1.5 Marriott points per mile going forward. That is virtually the same as you get now.
If you redeem a Travel Package to use at a hotel on a Peak date (assuming this is possible) and you transfer to an airline currently in Table 2, you will see virtually no devaluation. To be fair, this won’t apply to most HFP readers who would look to transfer to Avios or Virgin Atlantic who are in Table 1 where you will see a devaluation.
And before you ask ….
We do not know how existing Travel Packages will map across to the new reward chart. If you buy a Category 7 package today, we don’t know if it will still be valid up to Category 7 after August.
It is VERY unlikely, given that a Cat 7 is 35,000 points today and will be 60,000 points from August, that direct 1:1 mapping will be allowed.
Travel Packages will not be as good value as they were from August. This is clear.
However, it is not necessarily a disaster. For a start, if we assume that we can use them on peak dates, the value looks better. No hotels have yet published their peak dates, however, and they will vary by property.
More importantly, you can now redeem a Travel Package to stay at the ex-Starwood hotels – and, with no disrespect to Marriott, Starwood has far more hotels where you may actually want to spend seven nights in a row. On that basis, this is a win since a new redemption option is now available to you.
You can find out more on the Marriott / SPG transition website here.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)