How Much Did Marriott’s Change To Dynamic Award Prices Devalue The Currency?

The Points Guy looked at about 50 hotels out of more than 7000 in Marriott’s portfolio, including the ones Marriott says are their most popular redemptions, to see how the value of points are holding up after the chain dropped award charts and went to dynamic pricing.

My own experience hasn’t been good, for instance over the weekend I wanted to redeem a 50,000 point free night certificate for a hotel that wound up costing 52,000 points. And since Marriott hasn’t launched the option to top off certificates with more points yet, to meet their price increases, I was stuck unable to use the expiring certificate.

Nonetheless I was interested to see what they found in their experiment. Going in my hunch was that any devaluation would be small. After all, Marriott said the impact would be small until next year. There are about 200 hotels where the impact isn’t small and prices may have risen more than 30,000 points above the old peak price.

  • Take a category 7 hotel where off-peak was 50,000 points.

  • Peak was 70,000 for that hotel, and now it can cost 100,000.

  • There are properties that have literally doubled from a low of 50,000 points to now cost 100,000. I’ve had readers complain about this exact example for bookings they’ve tried to change.

The biggest hit comes at places like the Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui; Westin Grand Cayman and St. John; Paris Marriott Champs Elysees; Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe and Paris Vendome; Bodrum and West Hollywood EDITION; Grand Bohemian Asheville and Charleston; JW Marriott Essex House and Marco Island Resort; Ritz-Carlton Santa Barbara, Georgetown, Fort Lauderdale, Half Moon Bay, Laguna Niguel and Sarasota; Westin Maui, Westin Princeville Ocean Resort; Wailea Beach Resort.

But those are just a handful of Marriott’s behemoth. If you want to spend the night at a SpringHill Suites where there are few other options you might come out ahead!

Here was The Points Guy‘s conclusion:

When we average all properties together, we’re left with an average value of 0.84 cents per point.

This is actually higher than our previous valuation of 0.8 cents per point. And it shows that, based on these 50-plus properties, there’s still value to be had.

Now, in some sense this piece is comparing apples to oranges, and also asking the wrong question.

  • The methodology doesn’t show what they say it says. The Points Guy isn’t comparing what rooms used to cost in points with what they cost today. They are comparing what hotels cost today in cash versus what they cost today in points, coming up with an average value in points against a room rate, and comparing that against what they used to think the average value of a Marriott point was – which isn’t based on the same sort of methodology to begin with (it’s something that they’ve only done for their valuations of United, Delta, and American miles).

  • And their points values answer the wrong question. There’s a difference between ‘the room rate value your points can redeem for’ (what TPG measures) and ‘the value of a point’ (what TPG says they’re measuring).

    You can buy whatever you like with cash, not so Marriott points. As much inflation are we’re seeing in the U.S., Marriott has been inflating more. So Marriott points are a worse store of value. And you can earn a rate of return on your money, while Marriott points will only continue to get less valuable (they’ve told us to expect this next year).

    And their comparison only accounts for dates when standard rooms are available at hotels, which biases in favor of when you’ll get better value from points.

However I think this is a nice effort that suggests Marriott did what they said they would do – limit the carnage in the first year, in much the same way they over-indexed Bonvoy value when the program first launched (they waited to add a higher tier category and launch peak and off peak pricing, even though they announced it as their plan).

The playbook is ‘announce a negative change but wait to fully implement it’ so everyone looks at the new program and says “great!” or “not so bad!” before it gets worse. We should believe Marriott when they say next year will be worse!

And within the average there are some lessons.

  • There’s huge variance Just because the program is revenue-based without award charts doesn’t mean they’ve (yet) converged to average value pricing. They found a $0.0041 per point value at the Moxy Paris Bastille and a $0.0121 per point value at the St. Regis Rome. You still need to look for value.

  • Some of the best value remains at the highest-end resorts perhaps a result of the 2022 caps they’ve put in place. The prices at places so expensive they’re off the charts aren’t as good a deal as they once were, perhaps, but still represent strong value against the retail price of a room (if you would have paid that much for the room in the first place), e.g. 1.8 cents per point at the St. Regis Maldives and 1.2 cents per point at Al Maha in Dubai.

  • Value isn’t where we’ve come to expect it in recent years the points cost of the best hotels have generally gone up, while the cheapest hotels have remained a strong value in points. Don’t assume that ‘low category’ hotels are good value anymore, they note the Moxy Paris Bastille delivered only $0.0041 per point and the AC in Karow just $0.0045.

How anyone can look at the changes and not see less value is beyond me, yet they believe “that fear has not been realized at this time, as on average, we saw a value of 0.84 cents per point across the 15,000-plus data points we analyzed. This is similar to our previous valuation of 0.8 cents apiece.”

That misses that their original valuation was too high, that their new approach uses a different methodology entirely so shouldn’t be compared, and overvalues points because it treats them as though they were cash when they’re less flexible than cash – and more prone to devalue. Marriott has told us to expect to be kicked harder next year. And that expectation has to factor into the current value of the currency.

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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  1. If anyone is ever stuck and unable to use a Marriott 50,000 point expiring certificate, simply forward the certificate to me.

  2. How anyone can look at the changes and not see less value is beyond me

    You’re not considering that TPG is intentionally using bad math to make their pals at Marriott look better. It’s not like TPG has any history of integrity so nothing to lose there and they’ve certainly shown blatant favoritism to Marriott (remember the “Marriott’s CEO is Out To Lunch” fallout) in the past. This simply is another example of TPG being a soulless huckster.

  3. This is exactly what happened when IHG switched to dynamic pricing- at first, a lot of properties actually cost less in points than they used to (largely due to depressed travel demand and low cash rates at the time), and properties that did go up didn’t go up significantly. That’s all changed now- I’ve seen a HIX that used to be 40k two years ago now pricing as high as 90k and Kimpton properties that are as high as 120k

  4. Christian and Nun are correct. TPG is a huckster for most all of the big chain hotels, as well as everything the government says about Covid, and all woke liberal politically correct ideas. Many of their articles have an elitist “coastal entitlement mentality.”

  5. LOL. @Gary Leff is not happy that TPG did not support his pre-established and bogus notion that dynamic award pricing automatically spells “devaluation”; so he is now claiming, as he usually does when against the ropes, that the challenger is either “answering or asking the wrong question”.

    I am not taking sides since I have not yet examined what TPG just put out, but my retrospective analysis of 5 years of Hilton Honors’ dynamic award pricing says that, at least for that program’s implementation, there has been no noticeable devaluation of HH awards that can be attributedto dynamic award pricing, just like TPG’s preliminary analysis of Marriott’s dynamic award pricing has apparently not revealed a significant devaluation.

    Let me get the popcorn ready…

  6. As a longtime HHonors diamond, I know they have clearly led the way in redefining what is a standard room. Conrad midtown is a perfect example, used to be an all suites hotel, now they carved a couple up I up into two queens . And those are the only ones on pure points. I can still rent my go to room (a true suite) for 330 k pints per night. There is the obvious example in almost all Waldorf, Conrad’s , even regular Hilton’s. Rooms that used to be available at the standard rate are now hundreds of thousands points a night.

    These all used to be available at standard rates. May not be “soley” dynamic pricing but who cares ?

  7. The issue is that inflation is having a big impact on how to think about hotel points valuations relative to pre-Covid levels, whether in points or in cash.

    In 2021, it was very easy to consistently get 1 to 1.25 cents per point for Marriott, 0.75 to 1 cent per point for Hilton, and over 2 cents for Hyatt when simply comparing cash room rates to points redeemed. Yet, your site and others were still saying Marriott points were worth 0.7 cents or less, Hilton was worth 0.4 etc So the error was that points valuations were not appropriately revised upward when hotel price inflation hit in 2021. With the current revised price chart, it seems reasonable to me to be able to get 0.8 to 1 cents in value for Marriott point.

    But that gets us back to inflation – in the hotel world, 1 cents in USD currency has also been devalued! With your generic resort Ritz Carlton / St Regis now costing $1,000 per night at normal times, up 30%, 40%, 50% or more, often with downgraded brand standards, the fact of the matter is regardless of whether its cash or points, there is loss of value. The question is when it comes to buying hotels, has cash or have points devalued more – I am honestly not sure.

  8. @Beachfan — Whether or not using award charts, the only rooms that every program offers for award booking are those that are designated as ‘standard’ awards, which are universally dependent on availability. Dynamic award pricing does not determine availability or the size of standard awards inventory. It simply reports them.

    HH awards that cost 330K points per night are not standard awards; they are “premium ” awards and are exactly the same as the total lack of available standard awards in other programs. The only question then is what is more annoying: exorbitantly priced awards that no one can afford and no availability of standard awards at all?

  9. I’m hoping the top off certificate award feature is rolled out before end of month as the offered Amex membership rewards to Marriott 25% transfer bonus also ends then to book up my remaining 50k certs.

    That being said am definitely going to cancel all my Marriott affiliated Amex & Chase cards by next annual fee renewal with all this becoming so worthless

  10. TPG is not a source for accurate information. They can’t even handle all the corrections so they turned off comments.

  11. Bonvoy is a valueless program. IHG’s new One Rewards is going to make them think twice. That said, I redid all my existing Bonvoy reservations, and every single one was the same or lower points. That also happened with IHG and their initial move to dynamic pricing. You are absolutely right – pay attention to what Marriott says, which is that values will get worse next year. Get a pass now, but be prepared for far worse coming soon.

  12. PF is right on!
    TPG is the Twitter site for travel blogs, you follow their leftist corporate government BS or you go elsewhere. Their stable of millennial writers are all group think Woke.

  13. @DCS part of Hiltons dynamic currency strategy is to redesignate rooms that were originally standard and make them premium. You can say that’s a seperate strategy , a pointless point.

  14. @ DCS — Then what is attributable do the steep decline on the value of Hilton Points over the last several years?

  15. The late Arne on the SPG merger:
    “We’ve heard from SPG members loud and clear when they say ‘Tell me I’ll be OK,’” Sorenson said. “You’ll be OK. I want to make sure we continue to earn that loyalty.”
    The promise passed with Arne. We are NOT ok.

  16. We go to the Phoenician or Canyon Suites a couple times a year. It’s gotten popular with all the domestic travel. Lately have noticed 20% increase in points cost vs what it was before (eg 119k vs 100k, less nights at 85k, etc.)

  17. @DCS part of Hiltons dynamic currency strategy is to redesignate rooms that were originally standard and make them premium. You can say that’s a seperate strategy , a pointless point.

    @Beachfan — A non sequitur because the practice, which is no different than other programs reclassifying their standard rooms so that they can remove them from standard award inventories, predated Hilton’s 2017 move to dynamic pricing.

    Then what is attributable do the steep decline on the value of Hilton Points over the last several years?

    That is a fallacy. Hilton’s points have not declined in “value” (whatever is meant by that) any more than any other program’s points currency.

  18. @ DCS — I made no mention of other points currencies. There you go putting words in my mouth when you can’t answer a question. Don’t put words in my mouth EVER.

  19. Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix during first week of May was 70,000 points/night. After devaluation, 97,000-103,000/night.

    Room rates before and after (without nonrefundable advance purchase): ~$905.

  20. The statement in the abstract, in absolute or in isolation remains fallacious: Hilton points have not lost ‘value’ simply because some ignoramus claims they have.

  21. As an economist, fully agree with you on all points. The TPG approach surely looks flawed along a number of dimensions.

  22. DCS – why can’t I ever find standard availability at Waldorf Maldives or Conrad Bora Bora for the entire next 365 days?

  23. Like lots of people, I also have a few expiring 50K certificates. There are MANY hotels in Europe that are 52000, 53000, and 54000 etc.
    This was not done by accident. They KNOW that many of these certificates will expire unused or be burned at a Fairfield Inn or AC Hotel.
    This wasn’t a deval. It was a tactical nuke to the point value.

  24. @ CSD

    Standard availability awards were released for Conrad BB in one big batch a couple of months ago for a substantial date range. I was able to score 5 nights for 64,000 points per night ((5x80x0.8)/5) or 320,000 total points for dates in July. Factoring in the Diamond HH room upgrade, that’s worth USD8000. That’s 2.5 cents per point. Similarly, spent 5 nights on standard award booking some 3 years ago. Rightly or wrongly, it’s not unusual for various loyalty programs to release “standard awards” in batches (I’ve known BA do the same for their first class award space and Emirates released a ton of first class awards inventory a few months ago, now, apparently, mostly dried up).

  25. @ Gene

    I am enjoying the same redemption value on my Hilton points today as I did several years ago. Instead of whingeing about stuff, why not play the system better?

    There’s currently a triple point earn bonus on HH points. Have you factored in the earn rate in your overall analysis of the value you derive from any given loyalty program?

  26. For me it’s an 86% devaluation. I took my most common redemption and compared before and after. If I actually compare the last time I redeemed, it’s more like 100%. Yes a 2021 weeklong redemption has gone from 300k in 2021 to 600K in 2022.

  27. CSD: their website does that sometimes. Log out and log back in. Or try setting one flexible day to see the calendar. Then alternate to set dates. Sometimes the whole calendar is blank. It’s an error. I am seeing it a lot for hotels in Europe in May/June but I know the availability is there.

  28. We stayed at Gritti Palace for 60000 points per night a few years ago.
    No more. Nearly double now.
    Lots of hotels more than 100K points in places like London, Venice, Barcelona.
    The 50K certs can only be augmented by 15K. They’re useless, unlike the 40K certs from IHG, which can be added to up to the value of the room.
    Used those for Santorini coming up on June. Marriott’s 50K certs? Forget it. And remember: IHG’s certs are for a $99/yr card. Those Marriott 50K certs – the cards are $450 (for now).

  29. I’ve seen 93,000 points for a $240 a night hotel. Just wait until you can add 15,000 points to a 34K FNA and all hotels are 52,000

    BTW allowing certs to expire is just bad management by end user. Marriott should allow a conversion of certs to points

  30. While calculating the dollar value per point makes for an interesting math exercise, it all boils down to a more simple question: Can I use my points and certificates to vacation in places I want to stay? Marriott has answered that question for me with “no.” They seem intent on letting property owners play games with availability and benefits, giving their loyal customers the middle finger. There may be sweet spots somewhere in the Marriott program. Then again, there may be unicorns. I’m done trying to find them. It just feels like playing a rigged game of three-card monte.

  31. DCS – why can’t I ever find standard availability at Waldorf Maldives or Conrad Bora Bora for the entire next 365 days?

    On that question, @platy covered all the bases quite nicely! I will just add that common sense should indicate that availability of standard awards at “aspirational” properties like WA or Conrad Maldives will be extremely hard to come by because they will be snatched as soon as they are released in batches, as happened after a huge batch was released for Conrad Bora Bora, which @platy referred to. One must practically set up a stakeout to be able to catch them as soon as they are released. In January 2023, I will be returning to WA Maldives for a 5-night award stay, my second since Dec 2019-Jan 2020 (right after the resort first opened and before the pandemic hit) because I lucked out earlier this year and happened to check out availability just after a batch of standard awards @120K/night was released. Within 9 hours everything was gone! [1]

    With respect to the [bogus] claim about the “steep decline on the ‘value’ of Hilton Points over the last several years”, @platy also nailed it. One must factor in the earn rate in terms of how much cash one needs to spend to earn a free night because that is, quite literally, the monetary cost of an award night. With Hilton, almost non-stop, offering countless ways to earn loads of points, especially with their lucrative 2x/3x global promos (e.g., the upcoming Q2 global promo that will award up to 54x), the ‘value’ that one could derive out of the program has been second to none “over the last several years”.

    [1] A picture is worth a 1000 words: in the next comment I will post a link to a dramatic demonstration of the batch-release of standard awards for WA Maldives for January 2023, that then quickly they disappeared.

  32. [1] Promised link to a dramatic demonstration of the batch-release of standard awards for WA Maldives for January 2023, that then quickly they disappeared (within 9 hours):

    https://bit.ly/3uRvi1K

    G’day!

  33. Essentially, TPG’s saying that while Marriott’s charging higher amount of points than they used to, but since cash prices are up sharply in the last year we’re giving Marriott a pat on the back?

  34. TPG is a Corporate sponsored site.
    Given up on Marriott’s “bonvoyed” loyalty program. Fool me many times…..

  35. In my “value” calculus I look at the overall proposition , not just points per night . As a top tier member , am I going to receive my benefits as they are advertised ? Or are my benefits going to be denied / result in a hassle ?

    If I am going to redeem points or certs , I account for the total experience to judge “value”. For Marriott , I should receive an upgrade if available , late checkout at non resort / convention hotels , Club Access if open , and breakfast where that is a benefit . Not to mention that my reservation should be protected by the reservation guarantee .

    It doesn’t matter what blog you read but most blogs, in my opinion , are littered with complaints about Bonvoy not consistently delivering the program’s promised benefits .

    So , I don’t care how “cheap” a reward is if I get a room overlooking the dumpster with queen beds when I reserve a king bed , a piece of toast and coffee for breakfast , and am told that no late checkout is possible. To me the “value” of such
    an experience is negative. Furthermore , I have no confidence that Marriott will back me or take corrective action when Bonvoy benefits are denied .

  36. Marriott has been on a downward slope since the merger with Starwood. The Sheraton prima donnas drove the overall devaluation of the program right from the start by pushing for the merged program to be more like what they were used to. That’s when I stopped staying with those properties and switched to Hilton. Honestly, I should have switched YEARS ago as the Marriott program is no longer providing any of the lifetime Elite status benefits that I earned.

  37. I am a Canadian and in my view the devaluation for the hotels I like appears to be in the 25% range for the St Regis New York and Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale which I have been looking at. The points do seem to be aligned with regular prices but as a senior there is usually a discount. The other issue no one seems to factor in is it is not only the points you pay for a room but also the points you forfeit by not paying for the room when points used approximate the cash cost of paying. It seems to me the only way to redeem points for reasonable value is to stay 5 nights where you only pay points for 4 nights and 5th night free.

  38. The good news is that at age 74, I have truly enjoyed the points heydays. We have traveled the world up front. We have stayed in the finest hotels and thanks to all i learned, did so as an elite often getting upgraded to suites (how I miss Starwood). The bad news is that those days are long gone. 125,000 RT in Business Class to Europe? Right. A suite at the Prince de Galles or the St Regis Bahia Beach? Not with Marriott in charge. The bad news is that I got spoiled and will have to use all my points for the next few trips or pay in cash to be up front. But it was a helluva ride.

  39. Surely there would be a market for something like Expert Flyer here you could tag dates and properties and a threshold of points you were willing to pay.

    A bit off topic but –

    Damn I miss Juicy Miles. Point.me is so lame it a pretty worthless Amex Platinum benefit.
    Guess it was catabolizing their award booking service as Juicy Miles made it too easy.

    Anyone know if there is a way to get an alert when Turkish has award seats on United metal?
    Especially for those rare first class domestic for 15K?

  40. Texan is right.

    It was a bloodbath at the high end as I noted when the deval went effective.

    Nobody reading this blog is interested in the low end properties. If they are they are in the wrong place. The vast majority here save up points for aspirational properties they could not otherwise afford (or just wouldn’t pay). Once these are impossible people will lose interest and loyalty won’t be part of the booking experience.

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