Air Canada Aeroplan New Discount Hotel Redemption Option: HotelSavers

HotelSavers is Air Canada Aeroplan’s new product offering hotel redemptions, leveraging the airline’s buying power and ability to offer lower than public rates.

Hotel chains have made a push for several years to ensure that their ‘best rates’ are available on chain websites, and that ‘member rates’ may even beat online travel agency rates by a couple hundred basis points.

At the same time hotels still want to price discriminate, offering lower rates to liquidate excess inventory without undermining their pricing for customers who will pay retail. There are plenty of lower rates than you’ll find at a chain site or online agency like Expedia. For instance,

  • Corporate discounts (E.g. IBM rate)
  • Association discounts (E.g. AAA, American Bar Association)
  • Group discounts (for specific date ranges targeting at those attending particular events)
  • Membership-based sites

This last is interesting. You can often (though not always) find lower rates at sites distributing inventory under restrictions such as limiting access to ‘members’ of the site. These rates usually won’t earn points or elite status credit, or have status benefits recognized. But they may be less expensive. You’ll find those at places like Club1 or HotelSlash (which is still in beta).

Air Canada Aeroplan has a new product offering hotel redemptions, limited to its ‘members’, and offering pay with points or a mix of cash and points. It’s called HotelSavers. Key details:

  • ‘Up to’ 30% fewer points than existing Aeroplan hotel redemptions
  • Includes taxes, but not resort fees where applicable
  • 11 chains consisting of 39 hotel brands, including:
    • Top-end: Fairmont; Shangri-La; Taj; Small Luxury Hotels; Intercontinental; Preferred Hotels; Kimpton
    • Upscale: Le Germain; Omni; Swissôtel; Pullman; Hotel Indigo; Crowne Plaza
    • Economy: Coast Hotels; Holiday Inn; Novotel; Ibis

What’s interesting to me is that – as chains like Marriott, IHG, and Hilton abolish redemption categories, and redemption value, Aeroplan is introducing an award chart for HotelSavers!

CATEGORY POINTS COST
1 10,000 – 15,000
2 15,000 – 22,500
3 20,000 – 30,000
4 25,000 – 40,000
5 35,000 – 50,000
6 45,000 – 70,000
7 55,000 – 80,000
8 75,000 – 105,000

Here are some sample redemptions. Note that they aren’t necessarily ‘great values’ but they’re expected to be the second-best value use of points behind Aeroplan’s flight redemptions. You’ll generally always do better redeeming a currency for a business’s own product than for the things they have to go out and buy, even when it’s at a discount. Think of this as spending points like cash for hotels, but using Aeroplan’s buying power and member-based access to discounts to deliver value.

CAT. PROPERTY POINTS/NIGHT
2 Lorenzo Hotel (Preferred Hotels & Resorts), Dallas 12,000
3 Claris Hotel and Spa (SLH), Barcelona 24,000
4 Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel & Spa, Baie-St-Paul 33,000
5 Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile 36,000
5 Taj Exotica Hotel and Spa, Goa 39,000
6 Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort 43,000
6 Shangri La Toronto 45,000
7 Fairmont Mayakoba Resort, Playa Del Carmen 60,000
8 Intercontinental Bora Bora 71,000

Scott O’Leary, who is Vice President of Aeroplan and now also oversees Air Canada’s soft product as well (and old-timers will remember as the Continental Airlines represenative at FlyerTalk.com circa 2006-2010), offers:

When Canadians want to fly on points, they can already count on Aeroplan as Aeroplan credit card holders can redeem for Air Canada flight rewards for an average of 30% fewer points than if they used points for non-Aeroplan Canadian bank-based travel programs.

However, no one has focused on delivering Canadians a great hotel rewards program – that changes today. With HotelSavers, we’re now offering Aeroplan members great options to book hotels using their points – without compromising the excellent value they’ve come to expect. HotelSavers is yet another way we’re investing to solidify Aeroplan as the go-to rewards choice for all Canadians who travel.

The focus here is on Canada, natch, but Aeroplan offer huge value for Americans from a reasonable award chart with no fuel surcharges; more airline partners than any other program – all combinable into a single booking; stopovers for a modest premium; a Chase-issued U.S. co-brand card; and transfer partnerships with Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Bilt.

I understand Aeroplan is working to add elite status earning to the HotelSavers program, and there should be Easter eggs, it seems (‘sweet spots’) to uncover with outsized redemptions as well. That doesn’t surprise me, it gives a reason for members to engage and something to shoot for that encourages the earn side as well. I’d note that the Lorenzo Hotel is listed as category 2 and yet shows up with category 1 pricing…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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