Bits: IHG Rewards Club “moving to variable points pricing”, Flybmi routes rescued, Best Western buys WorldHotels

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News in brief:

IHG Rewards Club “moving to variable points pricing”

InterContinental Hotels Group, owner of Holiday Inn, HI Express, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza etc, published its 2018 results on Tuesday.

The summary is here, but I have summarised the summary into news I think is relevant:

A new brand, not named so far, will launch in 2019.  It will be an ‘upper midscale all-suites’ brand.  How this differentiates from Staybridge, which is already ‘upper midscale’ in the UK to my mind, and Candlewood remains to be seen.

The company now has 837,000 rooms globally

The number of UK rooms grew 8% in 2018, helped by the Principal Hotels acquisition 

Room rates are falling in the Middle East (REVPAR down 6% in 2018) due to oversupply

The avid brand has now signed over 170 contracts although only one hotel – in Oklahoma – is actually open.  These will be new build ‘cheap and cheerful’ hotels which will charge noticeably less than an equivalent Holiday Inn Express.

voco, the new conversion brand, has three hotels open with 13 signed.  We are reviewing the Cardiff hotel over the weekend.

Bookings by IHG Rewards Club members rose from 39% to 43% (over 50% in the Americas)

IHG Rewards Club members are 7x more likely to book direct than non-members

Importantly for hotels, revenue from IHG Rewards Club members is 25% higher than from non-members (this is, I imagine, due to the 20%+ commission charged by Expedia, booking.com etc and the propensity for loyal guests to book superior room categories)

Here is the key thing that caught my eye:

IHG Rewards Club is “testing new features for 2019 roll-out, designed to increase member engagement with variable point pricing” 

It is not clear what this means.  If we’re lucky, it MAY be a move to a Hilton model whereby redemption rates fall on dates where cash costs are low.  It may also be linked to the current New York promotion whereby certain hotels are currently on special offer for points until 30th April.

Of course, there is also a massive downside scenario whereby IHG Rewards Club moves to 100% variable pricing.  Points prices become uncapped and you get a fixed amount, say 0.5c, per point.  If the InterContinental Times Square pictured below is selling for $600, you would need 120,000 points.

I doubt IHG would do this – it is hardly likely to “increase member engagement” – but we need to keep an eye on it.  The Hilton Honors model has, I think, worked well with hotels having a points cap but members still able to get redemption value on nights where cash rates are low.

InterContinental Times Square

Some Flybmi routes rescued by Loganair

As we covered at the weekend, regional airline Flybmi has slipped into receivership.

Loganair – which shares a parent company with Flybmi – has announced that it is picking up some of the pieces by launching the following routes:

  • Aberdeen to Bristol (commences 4th March)
  • Aberdeen to Oslo (commences 4th March)
  • Aberdeen to Esbjerg (commences 4th March)
  • Newcastle to Stavanger (commences 25th March)
  • Newcastle to Brussels (commences 25th March)

It is NOT honouring existing bookings, however.  Ticket holders need to book (and pay) again and pursue a refund for the original flight from their credit card company.

Royal Garden Hotel joining Best Western

Best Western buys luxury group WorldHotels

We cover WorldHotels occasionally because it partners with Virgin Flying Club and Avios (via Iberia Plus, not BA).  Details of the Virgin miles offer is here and you can learn about the Avios partnership here.

WorldHotels is a marketing group representing 300 high-end hotels across the world.  In a surprising move, WorldHotels has been acquired by Best Western which is not a brand you associate with luxury resorts and city hotels.

The WorldHotels brand will remain.  Whilst Best Western is pleased it can “enhance [it’s] portfolio of offerings to include the upper upscale and luxury segments” I would be surprised to see, for example, the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington – pictured above, it overlooks Kensington Palace – suddenly renaming itself as a Best Western!

There are plans to integrate Best Western Rewards with WorldHotels.  As Best Western Rewards allows you to status match from any other hotel status you have, or even your Virgin Atlantic airline status, there could be some upside for HFP readers from this acquisition.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. OT. Applied for VA credit card and got an instant approval. Email stated that they will be in touch regarding sending the card and setting up the pin. It’s been 3 days and nothing.
    Anyone experienced this?

    • If i recall correctly they send you a letter in the post for the PIN. Will probably turn up at some point.

    • For me, the activation code for online services took a few days, with this and the card you can register and retrieve the PIN.

      It was a good 10 days for the card to show though.

  2. OT: What’s the most cost-effective way of obtaining 6,000 Marriott points? I’ve got 94,000 points but have a 100,000 redemption planned on Points Advance. Are there any other partners to avoid the $75 charge of buying points directly? I’ve already used my quota of Amex/SPG cards

    • Optimus Prime says:

      If you haven’t used up your referral links you can self refer for any card – that would give you another 18k MR points (assuming you still have an Amex Plat) regardless of being eligible for signup bonus on the new card.

    • 4,000 Amex MR points would do it – not sure how far away your stay is but £4k of spend on a Gold or Plat would be enough. Or refer a family member for one of the Amex cards.

      • berneslai says:

        Stay is in August (US Grant, San Diego) so no mad rush but was hoping that I may have missed a partner that allows a transfer in to Marriott that I may not have been aware of. I’ll probably just do the 4k spend on Amex.

  3. OT: If I cancel my Virgin Reward Plus card, would I lose the 2-4-1 voucher? And re vouchers validity; do I have to travel within 2 years or 2 years to book a flight (flight being beyond the 2 year period)?

  4. OT – any Marriott branded hotels in NYC worth a look? Currently have a five night cash booking at the Beekman but wondering whether to scrape together Amex and SPG points to book something Marriott instead. Could spring for Cat 6 at 50K points per night with the stay 5 nights pay for 4 promotion.

    • I love the Marriott Marquis. Right in Times Sq. Glass elevators in the 48 storey atrium.

  5. Mr Miggins says:

    OT – struggling to find time to use my igh prem card free night certificate before expiry but Mrs Miggins and Daughter Miggins could do with it for a night away after a gig. My cunning plan is to enter Mrs name as additional guest whilst booking and then simply not turn up myself later. Likelihood of working?

    • Very

      • Mr Miggins says:

        Thank you very much

        • Remember too that the expiry date is when you need to have booked by, so you could make a reservation for a date which is later, it’s just that if you cancel you will forfeit the booking, if that’s a better option for you!

    • I seem to remember something in the T&Cs for the free night that the cardholder must stay as opposed to reward stays which can be gifted. If it was a choice between losing it and what you are proposing I’d do the same, just beware that if you get caught the hotel may charge the standard flexible rate.

  6. Yes. Both fine

  7. Morrisons was fine with similar Amex offer, can’t imagine there’d be any issue.

  8. Froggitt says:

    Staybridge in the USA certainly is not ‘upper midscale’. Loads of headroom there for a decent long stay brand.

  9. O/T: Natwest rewards are offering Avios transfers again. By my calculations it’s 0.85p per avios, which I’m happy at.

  10. Chelseafi says:

    O/t wanted to book 1 night stay in May in Hilton Doubletree 32k points, coincidentally just had enough points between our 2 accounts so needed to xfer points from oh account to give my account the 32k, received points within 24 hours, went to book and it’s now showing 33k, really annoying is this usual? I’m now waiting for points from MR to transfer only need 90 points,

    • Sounds like it’s on dynamic pricing based on cash price – why not just do a partial redemption using the points you have?

      • I’ve found Hilton customer service to be really helpful in these circumstances. Try Twitter, explain what happened, they may credit you the difference?

      • That will be based on BFR though, might be cheaper to just buy 1000 points depending on rate.

    • Pay points and cash.

  11. BITS OT
    I’m having trouble adding a new Amex card to my online account, is there a trick to getting it to add.
    I’d rather not have to set up a new account to view it.
    Thanks

    • If it is a card you’ve had before, you need to remove the old dormant card (there is a function to do this on the site) at which point you’ll have no trouble adding a new one.

      • I’ve got lots of closed cards on my account of various types – never had any problems adding a new one?

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