Hotel loyalty program devaluation roundup

Now that the last hotel programs have announced the changes to their loyalty programs for 2013, we can survey the landscape and see which programs lost value and which retained it (it would be too much to ask for a loyalty program to gain value).  

As we'll see, the programs that changed the least were Starwood and Hyatt, which adjusted the award redemption categories of a number of their properties, but maintained the same basic earning and redemption structure (although Starwood Points and Cash redemptions got more expensive, as previously announced).

Almost all the other hotel loyalty programs underwent drastic devaluations.  We'll look at each program in turn.  As each program's changes goes into effect, I'll update the point density analysis you can find on my page discussing Chapter 6 of the book in more detail.  All these loyalty programs allow award reservations for dates after the category changes at the old redemption level, as long as the reservations are made before the effective date. 

Hyatt Gold Passport

Effective date: February 7, 2013.

Hyatt's loyalty program underwent almost no changes this year.  Only 17 hotels changed redemption category, and 10 of those moved to lower categories, costing fewer points.  You can find the list of all 17 properties on this Hyatt webpage.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Effective date: March 5, 2013.

As of March 5, 2013, the new Cash & Points redemption rates will go into effect (read more about those new rates here).  Additionally, Starwood has announced a preliminary list of hotels that are changing categories, moving either up or down in the cost of both free nights and Cash & Points redemptions.  You can find that list in this pdf file.

Marriott Rewards

Effective date: May 16, 2013.

Marriott is introducing a new hotel category, Category 9, which will cost 45,000 Marriott Rewards points and will initially have the following hotels:

  • Boston Marriott Long Wharf
  • Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
  • London Marriott Hotel County Hall
  • London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
  • Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
  • London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
  • JW Marriott Essex House
  • New York Marriott Marquis
  • Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees
  • St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
  • Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
  • Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel
  • Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel

This pdf has a list of all the Marriott properties that are changing at least one category in 2013.

Here's my updated analysis of the rebate value of Marriott stays for different combinations of elite status and cardholder status:

Hilton HHonors

Effective date: March 28, 2013.

Hilton is radically changing their loyalty program by adding 3 new award redemption tiers, introducing seasonal pricing, and changing the current elite discounts on award stays of 4 or more nights into a more straightforward 5th night free on award reservations.  It's widely assumed that after March 28 they will also change the current discounts on stays of four nights for Hilton American Express cardholders, which I discussed in this post.

The new award chart will look like this:

And here's the updated point density analysis:

"Seasonal pricing" is Hilton's new way of charging a different number of points for hotels within the same category.  However, many have been quick to point out that at Hilton's aspirational properties, for example the Conrad Hong Kong, the supposedly "high season" pricing is in fact in effect year-round (80,000 points at the Conrad Hong Kong, for example).  That's a long season!

Finally, elites will no longer receive the variable discount they currently receive on longer award stays.  As I wrote earlier this week:

Elite members of the Hilton HHonors program receive a discount on stays of 4 or more nights at Category 3-7 hotels.  The discount is 15% of the points required for a 4-night stay, 20% of on a 5-night stay, and 25% of on a 6-or-more night stays.

After March 28, elites will instead receive every 5th night free on award reservations, up to 4 free nights on award reservations of 20 consecutive nights.