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What happened with IHG Rewards pricing? Some hard facts (Part 2)

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This is Part 2 of our analysis of the changes to IHG Rewards pricing that took place over Easter. Read Part 1 of our analysis of whether IHG Rewards has devalued first by clicking here.

In order to get a realistic view of pricing, I looked at ALL London hotels for Thursday 22nd July. I compared the points rate vs the IHG Rewards member cash rate for a standard room.

I split the hotels into high-end, mid-market and budget by brand. This is because most members will have a preference for a certain sort of hotel.

IHG Rewards devaluation

I would generally only redeem for high-end hotels, for example, so I don’t care if Holiday Inn Express hotels are now great value. On the other hand, someone only looking for a clean and safe room won’t be concerned if the InterContinental hotels are now a bargain.

This is what I found. The numbers represent points for a reward room, the cash price (member rate) for a standard room and the implied value per IHG Rewards point if you redeem.

High end:

  • Hotel Indigo Leicester Square – 90,000 – £364 – 0.40p
  • InterContinental Park Lane – 89,000 – £378 – 0.42p
  • Crowne Plaza The City – 34,000 – £183 – 0.54p
  • Kimpton Fitzroy (image above) – 99,000 – £203 – 0.21p
  • Crowne Plaza Kings Cross – 48,000 – £125 – 0.26p
  • Hotel Indigo Paddington – 50,000 – £130 – 0.26p
  • Hotel Indigo Tower Hill – 26,000 – £144 – 0.55p
  • Hotel Indigo Kensington – 55,000 – £142 – 0.26p
  • InterContinental O2 – 33,000 – £137 – 0.42p
  • Crowne Plaza London Docklands – 48,000 – £146 – 0.30p

Average for high end sector – 57,200 points – £195.20 cash – 0.34p per point

Unweighted average of best value 33% – 0.49p per point

IHG Rewards devaluation

Mid-market:

  • Holiday Inn Oxford Circus – 50,000 – £122 – 0.23p
  • Staybridge Suites Vauxhall – 25,000 – £111 – 0.44p
  • Holiday Inn Bloomsbury – 46,000 – £113 – 0.25p
  • Holiday Inn Regent’s Park – 57,000 – £155 – 0.27p
  • Holiday Inn Camden Lock (image above) – 44,000 – £117 – 0.27p
  • Holiday Inn Kensington Forum – 20,000 – £99 – 0.50p
  • Holiday Inn Kensington High Street – 31,000 – £103 – 0.33p
  • Holiday Inn Whitechapel – 34,000 – £94 – 0.28p
  • Staybridge Suites Stratford City – 48,000 – £111 – 0.23p
  • Holiday Inn Stratford City – 25,000 – £99 – 0.40p
  • Holiday Inn London West – 34,000 – £83 – 0.24p
  • Holiday Inn Brent Cross – 14,000 – £91 – 0.65p

Average for mid-market sector – 35,667 points – £108.16 cash – 0.30p per point

Unweighted average of best value 33% – 0.50p per point

IHG Rewards devaluation

Budget:

  • Holiday Inn Express Southwark – 46,000 – £124 – 0.27p
  • Holiday Inn Express Victoria – 30,000 – £154 – 0.51p
  • Holiday Inn Express Nine Elms – 50,000 – £142 – 0.28p
  • Holiday Inn Express City – 31,000 – £94 – 0.30p
  • Holiday Inn Express Earls Court – 20,000 – £93 – 0.47p
  • Holiday Inn Express Limehouse – 23,000 – £86 – 0.37p
  • Holiday Inn Express Swiss Cottage – 20,000 – £90 – 0.45p
  • Holiday Inn Express Wandsworth (image above) – 21,000 – £76 – 0.36p
  • Holiday Inn Express Hammersmith – 20,000 – £100 – 0.50p
  • Holiday Inn Express Stratford – 43,000 – £182 – 0.42p
  • Holiday Inn Express Park Royal – 15,000 – £81 – 0.54p
  • Holiday Inn Express Royal Docks – 37,000 – £145 – 0.39p
  • Holiday Inn Express Greenwich – 20,000 – £128 – 0.64p
  • Holiday Inn Express Wimbledon South – 15,000 – £91 – 0.61p
  • Holiday Inn Express Golders Green – 23,000 – £63 – 0.27p
  • Holiday Inn Express Excel – 27,000 – £152 – 0.56p

Average for budget sector – 27,562 points – £112.56 cash – 0.41p per point

Unweighted average of best value 33% – 0.57p per point

Across all London properties:

Average for all of London – 37,921 points – £132.92 cash – 0.35p per point

Unweighted average of best value 33% – 0.52p per point

Should we change our 0.4p IHG Rewards valuation?

I have historically said that IHG Rewards points are worth 0.4p each.

I need to be clear about what this number means. I never meant that you will always get 0.4p. I meant that, in general, 0.4p represents the upper end of what you could expect from a redemption. If I was looking at an IHG Rewards booking and was getting 0.4p, I would probably pull the trigger on using points.

Based on the analysis above, I see no reason to change my valuation.

Yes, the AVERAGE valuation is below 0.4p – but it always was. However, of the 38 hotels listed, 17 get you 0.4p per point or more. This is fine with me.

If we look at the ‘best value’ third of hotels in each category, I would be getting around 0.5p on 22nd July. Again, I think focusing on the top 33% of hotels in each segment is fair – you can maximise value whilst still having a decent choice of places to stay.

IHG has NOT decimated the value of any particular group of hotels. There is still good value irrespective of the quality of hotel you prefer to book.

Putting the Hotel Indigo Leicester Square at 90,000 is just an unfortunate red flag. It shows why, for PR reasons if nothing else, you need category caps.

It hides bargains such as Hotel Indigo Tower Hill for an excellent 26,000 points, InterContinental O2 for 33,000 points and Crowne Plaza The City for 34,000 points.

The last two are easily amongst the five ‘best’ IHG properties in London. In fact, a lot of people would say Crowne Plaza The City and InterContinental O2 are THE best IHG hotels in London. Kimpton Fitzroy has issues with its small rooms and InterContinental Park Lane is getting tired.

It’s hard to shout ‘devaluation’ when two of the best hotels in London are under 35,000 points. I doubt many HfP readers would want to stay in Leicester Square anyway, so 90,000 points for the Hotel Indigo is not a cause for concern.

IHG Rewards devaluation

The big question is …. exactly what is IHG Rewards trying to achieve?

This is NOT revenue-based redeeming, by any means. The range above runs from 0.21p to 0.65p per IHG Rewards point.

At the same time, IHG has acted unwisely in doing two things:

  • removing brand or category caps, which gave members an element of guidance and certainty as to how many points they may need
  • announcing that points pricing would be updated daily – you can’t go to bed knowing with any certainty that the reward you were looking at will still be bookable at the same price in the morning

The ONLY value in the IHG Rewards programme comes from the ‘easy to earn, easy to burn’ methodology.

You certainly don’t stay at IHG for elite recognition, free breakfast, guaranteed upgrades, guaranteed lounge access or guaranteed late check-out, because you don’t get it, even as Spire Elite.

You would generally pick up a lot of points from your stay – but this is worthless if members do not have any certainty over what those points will get.

In the real world, there is an element of ‘I fancy at weekend at InterContinental Paris which will cost me xx,000 points so I will move my stays for the next two months to IHG’. This link is now broken because there is no longer any certainty that you can get a room for that number of points.


IHG Rewards update – October 2021:

Get bonus points: You can earn up to triple IHG Rewards base points with IHG’s new Autumn promotion. It runs from 1st October to 31st December. You can register here and our full article on the offer is here.

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

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

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 (175)

  • Jill (Kinkell) says:

    I’ve planned a USA road trip for September. Usually stay in IHG places. Glad I booked some time ago as all my booking places , so far, have increased their points. Still have 5 nights to sort out. Who knows if we’re going….at least everything is cancellable including my flights .

  • C says:

    Looking at the results of Rob’s survey, I am wondering if the new algorithm prices based on the anticipated demand for reward nights only at a property, rather than based off of the cash price (as many of us would expect). That is, has someone at IHG decided in effect to run two separate supply and demand driven pricing algorithms, one for cash bookings and one for reward bookings, instead of just linking reward pricing to cash pricing?

    • Joseph N. says:

      That is what I have been assuming to be the case the whole time. Since the program is a black box, that is an answer that fits what data we have gotten out of the black box.

      However, think about how flawed that would be. A 100 room hotel has 75 reservations, including 3 points reservations. Someone makes another rewards reservation, and after that the number of points required for the fifth rewards reservation doubles? Even though the hotel is only at 76% capacity? Why would anyone want to drive occupancy away from a hotel that is only 3/4s full?

      • Rob says:

        In normal times this may make sense, but it is hard to believe that many London hotels are even 25% full already for a random Thursday in July. Even Wimbledon is over by the date I tried.

        I saw an interesting quote from an IHG SEC filing on one of the US blogs. Apparently IHG created a paper gain for itself last year by changing the actuarial formula it uses to assume how many points will be redeemed. This doesn’t make a lot of sense either, though, since we now have rooms in London at 15k per night which is unheard of previously.

  • Cquadphil says:

    Having not travelled with work for a year, I’m starting to look at trips from June onwards. I’ve been top tier with IHG for well over 10 years. But with the break in earning and a their match to Hilton I was seriously thinking of switching to Hilton when I start again. Think this has made my mind up.

  • Peter says:

    A lot of the IHG hotels do not offer status benefits on reward stays.
    I hope they change it now as the reward night pricing is getting close to the cash prices.

  • Sexy_kitten7 says:

    Great data! Interesting to see U shaped curve. I think it would be better to lump in taxes/fees to the calc. Altho I doubt others do the same so you could not compare…

  • Aston100 says:

    Posted this on the Daily Chat thread, but think it should belong here instead.

    Real World data point:
    I booked 10 nights in NYC on points the other day.
    Checked today and the many of the days have changed price, both and down, but down overall. A couple of the nights had halved in price and others had gone up or down a little bit.
    Cancelled and have tediously rebooked each night as a single booking, as suggested yesterday.
    Saved about 5% (which is more than you might think since it is 10 nights worth).
    More importantly, I can now cancel and rebook individual nights as and when further price changes occur, rather than block cancelling all 10 nights together as I just had to do tonight.
    Going to have to keep an eye on prices every day!
    As someone else said the other day, I wish there was a seatspy equivalent!

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