In my previous article I outlined ‘the facts’ of the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty scheme. This article is my personal opinion, highlighting areas where I think you might want to focus.
Since this article was published, the scheme has been renamed as ALL – Accor Live Limitless. Features and benefits remain virtually unchanged.
The 10-second summary:
Strong points – big global network, decent Platinum benefits at Sofitel including lounge access, luxury options improved with Swissotel / Raffles / Fairmont, new Air France KLM partnership lets you earn points whilst flying
Weak points – points have a fixed monetary value so no opportunity for arbitrage, little choice but to redeem for airline miles at poor rates if you don’t want to redeem for a discount on an Accor stay, no credit card partner
The longer version:
I think that Accor gets a slightly tough time from Head for Points. Why? Because part of the skill of miles and points is arbitrage – redeeming points at places which offer an oversized return. Because Accor has a ‘points equal cash’ structure (2000 points = €40 off), you can’t play that game.
It also runs few big global promotions, making it harder to build up your points. The promotions it does run often have very narrow booking windows. This means that it doesn’t get much editorial coverage. On a personal level, Accor does not seem to want to work with us – even though we sell chunky numbers of rooms for them – which means that we don’t get access to hotels to review, competition prizes or news on what they are doing.
For the regular guest, though, Le Club AccorHotels works well. If you are Platinum, you are getting 8.8% of your room bill back in Accor vouchers. Spend a working week in a Sofitel running up a £750 bill and you will ‘earn’ £66 for yourself – albeit £66 you need to spend in another Accor hotel.
The benefits – for Platinum members – are also pretty decent at the right properties. At a Sofitel (such as Heathrow T5 pictured above) you will get ‘subject to capacity constraints’ lounge access (so free breakfast, snacks and drinks), an upgrade, late check-out, early check-in AND 8.8% of your room bill back in vouchers. You can’t complain about that.
My experience of Accor properties is not extensive. However, their UK network is surprisingly good, with Novotel and Mercure hotels in most major business cities. The Sofitel St James in Mayfair is a very impressive UK flagship and a decent place to spend your vouchers if you wanted a break in London.
We have reviewed two new UK Accor hotels in the last couple of years and both were impressive. Novotel Blackfriars (review) has the new contemporary look being rolled out across the chain (and a swimming pool). The new ibis Styles at Heathrow (review) is also showcasing a new, modern design – despite “only being an ibis” I think any HFP reader would be happy there. The new Novotel at Canary Wharf also looks impressive.
For the average Head for Points reader, the programme got less valuable when American Express Platinum stopped giving out Accor status as a benfit. For everyone else, the fact that points earned from promotions no longer count towards status following the 2017 changes hit those who earned status the hard way.
(One modest loophole is to buy an ibis Business Card for £65 (£119 for two years). This gives automatic Gold status in the AccorHotels scheme.)
If Le Club was a ‘normal’ loyalty scheme then the addition of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel to bulk up the luxury portfolio would have been very exciting. Imagine being able to redeem a handful of points for The Savoy in London for example. In reality, the revenue-based redemption model means that the acquisition was welcomed with little more than a shrug, since the number of points required for a free room is huge.
All that said, it would be unfair to criticise the scheme too much. If you manage to earn Platinum, stay in brands which have lounges and are happy to use your points for hotel room discounts, it can work out well.
It is also worth flagging the VERY interesting new Air France KLM partnership. If you taking an Air France KLM flight, you will now earn Accor points AS WELL AS Flying Blue miles. You can learn more about how to register here. It also works the other way – when you stay in an Accor hotel, you will earn Flying Blue miles AND Accor points.
As for me, I have my Accor account set up to auto-convert any points I earn into Iberia Plus Avios, at the rate of 1:1. (Do not convert into British Airways Avios as the rate is 2:1, in one of the odder quirks of the miles and points universe.) I then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them across to my British Airways Executive Club account. I have no interest in stacking up points inside my Le Club AccorHotels account.
Let’s see if there are any big changes when the scheme rebrands as Accor Live Limitless in 2020.
The Le Club AccorHotels website is here if you want to find out more.