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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.

Comments (178)

  • Lady London says:

    It makes me a lot more hesitant about choosing IHG Hotels even over Accor. My devaluation is about the same as @memesweeper’s 25% as I am currently mostly a denizen of mid or low categories with IHG.

    Over the past 2 years or so I think IHG reward program management has lost its way. Their strategy is not clear any more.

    However Rob’s analysis has confirmed one other thing.
    Comparing cash rates across properties, they do not reflect the relative overall quality of one hotel on the list in comparison with another, not anything like as strongly as cash rates used to.

    • memesweeper says:

      I’ll still be staying with IHG.

      Booking my stays directly with them rather than using an OTG is now very marginal: spire elite is useless other than for double points, and even with double points per stay its a dead heat for kick-backs between IHG and hotels.com. Basically, unless IHG have an attractive promo running — which to be fair they often do — whoever has the bigger portal percentage is going to win my business — and if I wasn’t spire elite, hotels.com would win every time, which is the same place Accor are in for me now. Oh dear.

      Obviously, for those with different redemption habits to me, this might look like a much more attractive change.

  • MW says:

    This is disappointing and from the comments it seems counterproductive also.

    What are the suggestions for rewards-based non-Amex now? I have the IHG Black card but wondering if there is something better now. I am hesitant about Virgin as the only “carrot” would be upper class redemptions for which I doubt I’d generate enough points as most of my spend currently goes through the Amex BA Premium card

    • Rob says:

      There really isn’t much about unfortunately unless you qualify for HSBC Premier. Virgin or bust (well, Virgin or a cashback card).

      • MW says:

        Completely forgot about Premier actually. Maybe that’s the way forward.

        I seem to remember you needed to switch your current account to them, but considering I have a mortgage with them, it’s not a huge issue (despite the usual divorce caveat).

        Any decent non-Amex cashback cards while I procrastinate?

      • Paul Pogba says:

        HSBC Premier offers 10% off Expedia, does this stack with the rebate you get from the click through sites?

        • Rob says:

          No, it’s all the same pot.

        • Axel says:

          I got an email from HSBC last year saying they had stopped the Expedia discount. I was Jade at the time but I think that still comes under the Premier banner.

    • memesweeper says:

      If you re-value your points downward by a third you’ll probably find the Black IHG card is still worth spending on.

      • MW says:

        To be honest, I stay in IHG properties only when I am travelling without my wife and when it’s not on business, so not sure I ever held much value for it as Platinum is worth so little.

      • MW says:

        Also worth noting that the issue is not only devaluation per se, it’s the lack of predictability.

        • memesweeper says:

          absolutely — people will end up pricing in ‘worst case scenario’ when valuing the points they hold or could earn — that’s bad for IHG

  • Matarredonda says:

    A month ago booked 7 nights at IC Aqaba for 142,000 points and now 182,000. Good hotel and always treat us well.

  • Nick G says:

    I’m glad I’m down to my last 20k IHG points now so I scan move onto another reward scheme…..some good CE prices in the BA sale for what’s its worth!

  • Aston100 says:

    I’ve got 25 nights booked on points across various places in the UK this year.
    In every single case the points price has gone up – in some cases by more than double.

    Multiple cities, multiple brands, multiple dates across the year.
    An increase in points requirement on every single booking.

    Tell me again why this isn’t a devaluation please?

    • Rob says:

      Because you are not necessarily looking at the whole picture. If you booked Kimpton London at 60k but it is now 90k, you cry devaluation – whilst ignoring that you can book InterCon O2 or CP The City (both arguably better hotels) for a new low level of 33k/34k and so end up arguably better off after you’ve cancelled your 60k Kimpton night.

      Obviously if you are booked in places with very few IHG hotels and all are higher then, yes, you are worse off.

      • Aston100 says:

        Rob, are you advocating something like “chase the deal, not the property”?

        • Rob says:

          If the properties are equivalent, you’d be crazy not to. There is no way I am putting any family members into Indigo Leicester Square at 90k when I can put them into Indigo Tower Hill for 26k, for example.

          • Anna says:

            What’s so special about Leicester Square?!

          • Rob says:

            Nothing, that’s the point!

          • Aston100 says:

            Probably the American tourist hive mind gravitates towards “lie sess turr” square as somewhere to be at any cost.

  • Prins Polo says:

    My two cents – I’m still IHG Spire Elite but taking my spend elsewhere. Partly this devaluation (final nail in the coffin), partly the lackluster IHG portfolio, partly zero benefits of having the top status. I’ve stayed at some nice IHG properties in the past but they are few and far between. I even found the two French Polynesia ICs where I stayed underwhelming and disappointing on many levels. Same with the new Kimpton in Tulum or Kimptons in NYC. Don’t even want to think about all the depressing HIs where I stayed…

    My pattern now is a combo of Hyatt (booked through Hyatt Prive if possible), supplemented with Marriott if Hyatt is not available due to its limited footprint (if RC, then booked through Amex FHR), with occasional Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental booked through Amex FHR. I guess I’m less loyal to a single brand than I was a few years ago – upgrades are nice when they happen, but I more often than not just book the room I want, and I don’t care much about free breakfast or lounge access, since food options will always be more exciting outside of the hotel… Also, with Amex FHR or Hyatt Prive, I’m often getting much more in terms of benefits than I would with elite status anyway.

    • Rob says:

      The disconnect between elite status benefits and VIP booking programmes is getting wider.

      I mean … Emyr gets you guaranteed lounge access if you book certain IC’s (inc London and Paris) through him, for free. You’d need to be Royal Ambassador to get that as a status benefit. Same with free breakfast at many 4 and 5-star IHG hotels via the Luxury and Lifestyle programmes we’ve covered.

      Of course, these combine with points and status benefits too so you are not giving up points by using them.

      • Harry T says:

        Emyr is an excellent agent and I always try to use his services for cash bookings. His package for Domes of Elounda with extra payment flexibility is also excellent. The real sweet spot is booking with him when you’re already a high tier elite, for extra perks – for example he can get me breakfast at EDITION and RC when I can’t even as Titanium.

        • Anna says:

          +1 – he’ll certainly be getting my IHG and Marriott cash bookings in future unless they come up with a serious incentive to book direct.

  • Froggitt says:

    “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” – so book it before you go to sleep? You can always cancel it tomorrow.

    • The real John says:

      That requires having enough points to book all the options if you are too tired to decide

  • Paul Pogba says:

    As much as I can’t find a single example of where this change benefits me I’ll probably continue to accrue IHG points via non-Amex credit card spend as all of my other cards (legacy Horizon, Lloyds Avios) offer a lower return. If you take 25% from Robs valuation of 0.4p per point the IHG Premium card still returns 0.6p (2x 0.4p x 0.75).

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