When Marriott Bonvoy first announced that it was introducing peak and off-peak pricing, we all assumed that it would look something like the peak and off-peak chart used for British Airways Avios redemptions. (The 2020 Avios peak and off-peak calendar is here.)
We thought we would see whole months, or at least chunks of weeks, marked as either peak, off-peak or standard. We were wrong.
What has actually happened is that hotels jump between peak, standard and off-peak reward pricing from day to day.
We touched on this on Sunday in Anika’s review of Marriott Canary Wharf but I wanted to look at it in more detail. Marriott Canary Wharf is a good example because, as a Central London hotel, there are substantial swings in the cash price from day to day depending on how many events are going on in the city.
Here is the Bonvoy redemption pricing for October 2019 (click to enlarge):
Of the 31 days in October, there is redemption availability on 24 of them:
1 night is ‘peak’ at 40,000 Bonvoy points
16 nights are ‘standard’ at 35,000 Bonvoy points
7 nights are ‘off-peak’ at 30,000 Bonvoy points
The distribution is random. Sundays are most likely to be off-peak, but not always. The only peak night is a Saturday which is usually low yield.
Let’s compare this to cash pricing though:
Cash prices go from £105 to a whopping £586.
When you look at the cash prices versus the points prices.
The one ‘peak’ night at 40,000 points is selling for just £177!
The seven ‘off peak’ nights at 30,000 points are selling for (in date order) £361, £161, £228, £105, £262, £216 and £220
The 24 ‘standard’ nights at 35,000 points are selling between £121 and £586
Put another way …..
The average price of an ‘off peak’ night is £221, but 1/3rd of the ‘Standard’ nights are priced at £224 or less.
What can we draw from this? Marriott Bonvoy, at least on this example, has not moved to a purely revenue-based redemption model. It is NOT as simple as saying ‘this hotel charges peak points when cash rates are above £xxx and off-peak points when cash rates are below £yyy’.
Is this good or bad? Is it actually better for members that the allocation is fairly random? I’m honestly not sure. The more random it is, the more chance of being able to get ‘outsized’ value on a redemption, but it also means that there will be more occasions when points look like bad value.
In reality, we need to give Bonvoy a bit of time to bed down the peak and off-peak methodology. For now, though, you need to take extra care to compare points rates and cash rates when planning a redemption to ensure you are getting good value.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.