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Did IHG Rewards Club make a mistake with dynamic reward pricing?

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Over the last couple of weeks, IHG Rewards Club has rolled out dynamic pricing of reward nights in most countries.

Put simply, they have copied the Hilton Honors model.  The old points price remains the maximum IHG will charge, but on nights where the hotel has cash rates which are below average, the points price is reduced too.

Everyone wins, in theory.  You can still get outsize value by redeeming at top hotels on peak dates because the old points cap remains, but you should no longer find other dates where using points is totally stupid.  At worse, you now have ‘average days’ (around 0.35p per point of value) and great days, but nothing which is laughably poor.

IHG Rewards Club

When dynamic pricing launched, there were some excellent deals.  We saw many hotels in the UK and Europe where you could get 0.8p per IHG Rewards Club point.  Given that IHG often sells points for 0.4p each, this looked odd.

It’s not clear if it was a mistake or just a way of getting some good publicity, but a lot of these excessively good deals have been pulled.

Show me some examples …..

This is the list we published on 13th June, for stays on 13th October in London.  I have deleted all of the hotels which offered under 0.4p per point, which is what I consider my ‘normal’ valuation:

InterContinental Park Lane – 45,000 points (£337, 0.75p per point)

Holiday Inn Bloomsbury – 45,000 points (£226, 0.50p per point)

Kimpton Fitzroy – 40,000 points (£285, 0.71p per point)

Holiday Inn Express Victoria – 17,500 points (£143, 0.82p per point)

Holiday Inn Camden Lock, pictured below – 20,000 points (£174, 0.87p per point)

Holiday Inn Kensington High Street – 17,500 points (£137, 0.78p per point)

Holiday Inn Express Earls Court – 17,500 points (£129, 0.74p per point)

Holiday Inn Express Stratford – 15,000 points (£99, 0.66p per point)

Holiday Inn Brent Cross – 12,500 points (£89, 0.71p per point)

Holiday Inn Wembley – 15,000 points (£99, 0.66p per point)

Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4 – 12,500 points (£85, 0.68p per point)

Staybridge Suites Bath Road – 15,000 points (£99, 0.66p per point)

IHG Rewards Club makes dynamic reward pricing worse

Here is pricing for the same hotels, run yesterday morning for the same night in October.  In all cases, cash prices were unchanged.

InterContinental Park Lane – 45,000 points (£337, 0.75p per point), now 70,000 points (0.48p per point)

Holiday Inn Bloomsbury – 45,000 points (£226, 0.50p per point), no change

Kimpton Fitzroy (the nicest IHG hotel in London) – 40,000 points (£285, 0.71p per point), now 55,000 points (0.52p per point)

Holiday Inn Express Victoria – 17,500 points (£143, 0.82p per point) – not included as cash rate is now £224

Holiday Inn Camden Lock – 20,000 points (£174, 0.87p per point), now 25,000 points (0.69p per point)

Holiday Inn Kensington High Street – 17,500 points (£137, 0.78p per point), now 20,000 points (0.69p per point)

Holiday Inn Express Earls Court – 17,500 points (£129, 0.74p per point), now 20,000 points (0.64p per point)

Holiday Inn Express Stratford – 15,000 points (£99, 0.66p per point), now 17,500 points (0.56p per point)

Holiday Inn Brent Cross – 12,500 points (£89, 0.71p per point), now 15,000 points (0.59p per point)

Holiday Inn Wembley – 15,000 points (£99, 0.66p per point), now 17,500 points (0.56p per point)

Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4 – 12,500 points (£85, 0.68p per point), now 17,500 points (0.49p per point)

Staybridge Suites Bath Road – 15,000 points (£99, 0.66p per point), now 17,500 points (0.56p per point)

It probably isn’t a coincidence that the only unchanged hotel, from our ‘outsized value’ list, is the cheapest.  Holiday Inn Bloomsbury still gets you 0.5p per point.

Every hotel which offered you more than 0.5p per point has increased in points price whilst the cash price is unchanged.

To be fair, these hotels still offer outsized value.  You are still getting more than my general 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club, and you would still make a good profit if you bought points last week at 0.4p each.

IHG has clearly decided that 0.7p – 0.8p is TOO generous, however.   There is NOTHING in London from my selection which offers you better than 0.69p per point, and you should now consider a ‘good’ redemption as one that gets you around 0.6p per point.  Your chances of doing a lot better than that are now reduced.

IHG One Rewards update – December 2022:

Get bonus points: You will earn bonus IHG One Rewards points on stays between 13th October 2022 and 31st December 2022. You can choose between 2,000 points for every two nights or 10,000 points for every four nights (not cumulative). Read this article for full details. You can register here.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

You will receive a 100% bonus if you buy IHG One Rewards points by 29th December 2022.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (71)

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  • Sam says:

    It’s not a mistake. They know what they are doing. They are selling points and they’ve decided to raise the points on the last day they sell points, so they can get away from all those regulations from the trading standards. They make them seem like they did not increase the points tariff after selling the points. Shaming people buy points and the increase the points tariff. Quite smart aren’t they?

    • callum says:

      What regulation are you referring to? I’m confident no such thing exists.

  • Sam says:

    Think about it Rob…they’ve been on this points tariff for a few days already, and given the size of their management there’s no way this is a mistake nor they have ‘just’ reckoned they are being too generous…

    I think it’s a bit too kind of you to call a very disgraceful points-selling tactic as a mistake…I’d call it a mistake if I were IHG’s spokesperson and tried to be diplomatic but not as a customer.

    • Andrew says:

      I’m not sure it’s quite as sinister as that – they have a 100% buy points promo every other month, so why would they hatch such an “evil plan” this time? Moral of the story – don’t buy points unless you plan to use them immediately and always jump on a bargain the day you see it or it’s gone.

      • Amit says:

        It is when the points either take many days to arrive, or don’t arrive at all

      • Lady London says:

        IHG seem very smart financially. They may have just been testing demand.

      • Rob says:

        ….. and points purchases can be refunded within 14 days anyway.

        • Amit says:

          Good to know, but that’s not what the T&C say
          Price includes all applicable fees. Purchased points are not refundable and are applicable toward all IHG® Rewards Club awards. Members may purchase a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year and receive as a gift a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year.

          • Rob says:

            UK internet selling rules mean you can request a refund within 14 days.

          • Jon says:

            Rob – unless the product is digital and/or the service is provided immediately. At least one of those is true. I think you will struggle to get a refund.

      • Sam says:

        ‘ they have a 100% buy points promo every other month, so why would they hatch such an “evil plan” this time?‘ – Why would they not? It’s a time when many airlines and hotels want to make every way to get some cash by selling points.

        Having a record of selling points regularly does not dismiss their intention to sell points in a very doggy way. Making people believe their points can be of ‘good value’ and raising the price straight after. And let’s use our common sense, do we really think that 20,000 points for a free night at O2 is realistic, when the cheapest price they had was 45,000? Too good to be true no?

        Aeroplan were selling points a month ago, they closed off all redemption seats on their portal just before their sales finished.

        AIAIK these points are non-refundable and it takes up to 48 hours to arrive (especially first time buyer).

    • memesweeper says:

      Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      They launched dynamic pricing with a margin of up to -50% . Should have been 10 or 25%. They’ve fixed that.

      I picked up a bargain three night stay in an IC next month. It’s not gone up (yet) and I’m guessing demand so close in is still very soft. No conspiracy needed to explain any of this.

      • Sam says:

        When the the points rate suddenly dropped in all main properties in Greater China at one night, many thought that was a ‘mistake’ – and we now all know it was never a mistake because the official announcement came in one day later.

        Not sure what sort of margins we are on about. And how did we arrive at 10 or 25%. We all have seen reward night rates at Pointbreaks included many expensive InterContinental properties. There is hardly a rule of how a points tariff margin is decided so I am not convinced they increased the point because they ‘fixed’ something.

        There are still points rates that have not gone up but, again this does not dismiss the incentive of showing how points were of ‘good value’ for those who had their rates gone back up again.
        A lot of the point increases occurred at popular properties (Park Lane, O2, Amsterdam etc) and the cash price remained the same. Dynamic pricing did not stand with the point increases. They simply closed dynamic pricing on those properties just before the points sale ended.

        This isn’t a conspiracy – this is a normal thought process when there are too many coincidences. I do have a lot of reports (mainly from members that are now based in China) that their points were not posted until around 2 days after the purchase. For those unlucky ones who did not receive the points in time, I feel for them. But a boy’s gotta eat, and so do businesses right?

        • ChrisC says:

          Amsterdam is my main interest and especially the Kimpton De Witt which is normally 55k per night.

          Last Monday I got it for 35k per night for a long weekend in May (Eurovision). Just checking now and it’s gone up to 52.5k so not quite full whack. Cash rates have remained the same.

          Easter Weekend Thursday 1st April 2021 is 30 K points and Friday 2nd and Sat 3rd are 35k and Sunday 4th is 52.5k

          I have a cash booking in December and the points rate is average of 33.7k per night. Still pretty good in my book. I’ve seen some mid week nights in January for 27.5k

          So not perhaps not the total end of dynamic pricing.

          • Sam says:

            Definitely not the end of the world for dynamic pricing, at least at IHG the dynamic pricing still has its appeals compared with the same system run by Hilton. My argument is just the approach and the timing that they decided to close/open dynamic pricing seems hideous given it’s the same time they sell/stop selling points.

  • Anna says:

    Mistake or not, many of us took advantage and will now be able to stay in some really nice hotels at great points prices. I got several Hotel Indigo nights for 15k points per night (Durham, Stratford upon Avon and Chester), The George for 52k for 2 nights and a night at JFK for 20k where cash prices don’t move much from $200 pn. All these are now 25% – 50% more points for the same nights.
    I used my stash of points to book these, then bought the same number with the 100% bonus offer to replace them as I know I can get good value at the GCM Kimpton which regularly hits $1k pn.

    • Harry T says:

      It was the early birds who benefitted! I’ve achieved over 1p per point at the Amstel and Kimpton (I just love Amsterdam and it’s easy to get to from Newcastle) for several weekends over the next year. And yes, I would pay the cash prices, so it’s a genuine saving.

    • Harry T says:

      Anna, please let me know how the George is. My girlfriend is from Edinburgh and we would be keen to try it out if it’s worth the cash or points.

      • Anna says:

        Ok, it’s not till December though! Need to decide whether to drive or get the train.

    • Alan says:

      Good for you! I’ve got zero travel booked just now and nothing even at the planning stage so couldn’t make any bookings sadly 🙁

      • Alex Sm says:

        I booked a sad night at Crawley HIX in October for the BA Run Gatwick half-marathon in October but the event is now cancelled!

  • Harry T says:

    I’ve mentioned before but it seems like the return to higher points prices is aimed at the more expensive hotels, such as the ICs. Amsterdam is a good example – I booked some nights at the Amstel for 40k (usually 60k) and some nights at the Kimpton for 25k (usually 55k). The Amstel is now back to 60k for all dates I’ve searched but the cheaper Kimpton still benefits from lower dynamic pricing on many dates.

    I wonder if they realised that they had made their more premium hotels too cheap for points and have now reverted to standard rates. Or, more cynically, if they wanted to generate some extra bookings for their top end hotels – after all, elite members may pay with points, but the additional spend on hotel food and services when they visit really benefits the hotels during this downturn.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Think your right Harry.
      I suspect they may of had a quota of unfilled rooms at many hotels, seen an upsurge of the higher categories booked & decided to claw back some revenue.

    • Andrew says:

      Yes I booked IC Singapore for 22k a night in February, now 45k. So it does seem that IC was the place where the biggest bargains were had last weekend. Now we’ve just got to hope that all these trips we’ve booked don’t need to be cancelled because if Covid, or all the bargain hunting will have been for nothing!

      • Alan says:

        Indeed. At least they’re cancelable at no risk but I’ve not even started planning trips as it’s still so unclear which places will be open!

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Are all the hostels mentioned doing a full or mostly full F&B service? It seems a lot dont and jn that case the incidental is not going to be worth a whole heap…

      • Andrew says:

        But we are talking about bookings into next spring – so who knows what facilities will be available in a year’s time, I’d like to think back to normal. We aren’t talking about just bookings in October as per Rob’s examples which I admit is a bit patchy in terms of what to expect.

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    Dynamic points pricing means varying points according to supply and demand. So, its not surprising to see points requirements rise, when lots of HfP readers book redemptions!
    Ive got my eye on a weekend at the Holiday Inn, Brent Cross; cant beat a bit of posh shopping in “London”!!

    • Crafty says:

      Yes. I don’t see how this is a story. Most of the increases highlighted in the article are mild of moderate, which is entirely in line with the pricing now being dynamic. (The bigger story being that this is likely a shame as it’s harder to know truly good value from spending a point!)

  • The Original Nick says:

    I booked Hotel Indigo Edinburgh for a Saturday night in December for 17500 points. It’s now 30000 points. Rate for the night was £148 excluding taxes.

  • Lev441 says:

    I thought the new prices were too good to be true…! Booked a weeks stay next year at the Intercontinentel Tel Aviv for 29,000 instead of 50,000. Now pretty much any day is 50,000… glad I got in when I did!

  • jamesj says:

    They probably read this blog, that’s what happened, or they may never have noticed

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