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Is there any link between Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak dates and the hotel cash price?

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We have recently spent a lot of time looking at the aggressive changes to IHG Rewards redemption pricing.

Using an allegedly ‘dynamic’ model, IHG reward pricing is now all over the place, whether you compare multiple hotels on the same day, or the same hotel over a period of time.  There is minimal logic to it.

IHG Rewards isn’t the only programme to have a random approach to ‘dynamic’ pricing, of course …..

Marriott Bonvoy launched peak and off-peak pricing a couple of years ago.

Marriott Bonvoy peak and off-peak dates analysed

When it was announced, we all assumed that it would look something like the peak and off-peak chart used for British Airways Avios flight redemptions.  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.

Redemption pricing at Marriott Canary Wharf

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 what is going on.  Anika’s review of Marriott Canary Wharf is here if you want to find out more about the hotel in general.

Here is the Bonvoy redemption pricing for 29th August to 2nd October 2021 (click to enlarge):

Of the 35 days covered, there is redemption availability on all of them:

16 nights are ‘peak’ at 40,000 Bonvoy points

19 nights are ‘standard’ at 35,000 Bonvoy points

0 nights are ‘off-peak’ at 30,000 Bonvoy points

The distribution is fairly random, with Tuesday and Wednesday more likely to be peak.  No day of the week is entirely peak or off-peak.

Let’s compare this to cash pricing:

Cash prices go from £114 to a whopping £440.

Is there any correlation between cash and points pricing?

Some, but not much:

The three cheapest nights for cash – all at £114 – are priced at the higher rate of 40,000 Bonvoy points per night.  This is exceptionally poor value given that I target 0.5p per point when I redeem Marriott points.

The cheapest night selling at 40,000 points is £114

The most expensive night at 35,000 points is £264 – an impressive 0.75p per point

Saturday 11th is ‘peak’ with a £153 cash price, whilst Saturday 18th is also £153 but is priced at ‘standard’

No nights are off-peak, even though I doubt cash rates ever drop much below £114 at this hotel

All of the nights selling for £300+ are priced at 40,000 points, so there is some correlation between cash and points cost.  Of course, there are also £114 nights at 40,000 points …..

What can we draw from this?  Marriott Bonvoy, at least on this example, does not have 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.

As with IHG, 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 and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2021)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

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 and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (20,000 bonus points), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (15)

  • John says:

    You claim for the series of Canary Wharf redemption rates: “The distribution is fairly random.”

    That’s not true. The series has a first-order autocorrelation of >0.5. (It is 0.5055 to be precise.) I did not go through the trouble of computing the Ljung-Box test statistic, but rest assured this is not white noise.

    Just from visual inspection, you can clearly see that peak and off-peak dates tend to cluster. If you look at a longer time span for this property, the autocorrelation increases even more.

    For instance, July is 40k for the entire month except two Sunday nights. There is a clear story behind this. July is peak holiday season (=peak redemption season). And Sunday night is typically the weakest night of the week at hotels. So you can’t even call these two nights at 35k “outliers”. It seems possible to rationalize this with weaker anticipated demand for those Sunday nights.

    • Erico1875 says:

      The question is, are we being fooled by the randomness? . Have Marriot applied a logic to this , or is it a hotch pot?

      • John says:

        I don’t see any reason why a miles or points programme would set redemption rates randomly.

        The more important question in my mind is the following: How much do we have to gain from uncovering the mechanism according to which a hotel or an airline sets redemption rates?

        I’d argue, not terribly much. Especially at hotels, awards are fully flexible. We can observe redemption rates as well as cash rates for the dates on which we might want to travel. As soon as we see a deal we like, we book it. If it turns out to be not such a good deal after all, we can cancel. As long as we’re not chronically short on points, that should work.

        Furthermore, it would not really help that much if you could predict redemption rates accurately unless you could predict cash rates accurately as well. But it’s gonna be hard to predict cash rates accurately. Marriott prices according to highly complex revenue management logic. And to do that, it uses data that is private to Marriott. E.g., we simply do not know room inventories. But Marriott does.

    • Memesweeper says:

      ‘July is peak holiday season (=peak redemption season)’

      I’d guess each hotel’s cash pricing is driven by cash demand and ultimately set by the hotel.

      Redemption pricing is driven by redemption demand and is set by Marriott HQ?

      Unless it’s a resort hotel I’d not expect a strong correlation between the dates for both.

    • BuilBackBetter says:

      +1. Clearly there is correlation.
      There are some outliers, but not how much of that is due to covid and its impact. London hotels trying to attract families in august school holidays with lower cash prices? Or cash prices for Sep and beyond not reduced yet?

    • Rob says:

      Obviously that is true, and you can clearly see from my dates that the higher priced dates are 40k. This doesn’t explain why the highest priced dates are also 40k and why nothing is 30k. We never suggested that Marriott is 100% randomly pulling reward prices from mid-air.

  • Matthew says:

    And when getting 5 nights for 4 on a redemption, it’s the cheapest that’s free so pick your 5 nights wisely!

  • Sandgrounder says:

    In a city like London with plenty of options for redemption, my process is usually; when do I want to go, how many points do I have/am I willing to spend, what are my options, pick the one I like best, compare to cash, book, review regularly to see if anything changes. I suppose its different if you want to stay in a particular hotel and can fit your dates around that desire.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    I’m looking at a Marriot redemption which you can add access to exec lounge for $50 which seems reasonable. I’m just not sure whether the cash element is the same refund terms as points ie 24 hours before, it’s not clear

    • Rob says:

      I’d want to be fairly clear about what the lounge is actually offering at the moment – and of course how it compares to a breakfast-included cash rate. Most Marriott lounges in the US are closed at weekends, remember.

      • Yorkieflyer says:

        It’s a long range view, the mena house Cairo for next March, but good point re weekend, may just see what deals available on check in

  • MT says:

    There is also a fact that the yield is important to hotels. It is pointless them offering lower prices when it will not attract more guests. They are better to keep the rates higher and sell fewer rooms. Equally there maybe some people who would spend points to stay but never consider the cash rate, thus just because a rate is high doesn’t mean points rates will also be high. While possibly less so atm in normal times the Marriott CW would for 5-6 nights per week mainly be people staying on business and thus points would not be used as companies are picking up the bill. In this situation the guests actually like higher rates as they earn more points to then use for personal use.
    My understanding is the revenue management of each hotel has a lot of input in what peak/standard/off-peak dates are set, so it’s less global than simply Marriott having an algorithm doing all the work.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      And that wasn’t meant to be the case when it was touted.

      Areas were meant to be peak/standard/off peak together but from what I can see that’s not the case.

      • MT says:

        What Marriott promotes via Bonvoy and what it allows hotel owners to do are very different things. You have to accept that as part of doing business with Marriott. Their customers are the hotel owners, not their guests.

  • James says:

    Looking at the dates that are the cheapest but have peak redemption rates (29-31 August 2021), the logic would be that they are around the August Bank Holiday, when people on work trips (usually paid stays) would avoid, but would be high demand for people on vacation (more likely on redemptions).
    This pricing structure should nudge people to pay for their stay instead of redeeming – good for margins – and also get more points spent from people still using points.

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