Two weeks ago Radisson hotels shared that Radisson Rewards would split into two geographically-distinct programs on June 17, 2021. This is being required by the U.S. government to keep data on Americans separated within the Chinese-owned chain.
- Members in the U.S. are part of the Americas program (United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean) with the rest of the world in a separate program.
- Americans can still join the worldwide program and earn and redeem points.
- Points can be transferred easily between the two programs.
I had a chance to speak with Matthew Vaccarella, Radisson’s Senior Director of Global Loyalty, about the upcoming changes. He told me that they “worked really hard to try to retain a single program” including whether “there was an opportunity to have data in one location or certain locations..needed to conform to set U.S. policies on data” but in the end they had no choice but to make this change, “if we didn’t have to have two programs we would not have two programs.”
It does seem odd to me that the U.S. government has concern over Chinese access to Radisson loyalty program data, but is fine with Americans joining the international program and even moving points back and forth between the two programs. And indeed that it seems the government is more excised over this than multiple hacks of Marriott which included passport and credit card data.
Since it’s possible to move points back-and-forth between the two programs (not instantly, but quickly, measured usually in seconds rather than hours) the splitting of the programs doesn’t really change the redemption calculus of the program. Members just need to join the program they aren’t automatically enrolled in (U.S. members automatically in the Americas program need to join the worldwide program before earning or redeeming at a property in Europe, Africa, Mideast or Asia).
However at the same time the programs are splitting there are other changes being made to redemption.
- New award chart with 5 levels instead of 7. 30% of hotels become less expensive, 8% stay the same, 40% go up 1000 – 2000 points per night, and 22% of hotels increase by 2000 or more points.
There’s a good opportunity now to burn points for any hotels you want to stay at that may go up in price, while you’ll automatically receive a refund for hotels you have booked that fall in price.
- New RewardSaver discounted redemptions are capacity controlled and cost 30% less than a standard award night. This will debut for the Americas program in June and worldwide in 2022.
Inventory for these discounted redemptions are controlled at the corporate level and will be available across the entire hotel portfolio but won’t be available for every hotel every day.
There are no changes to elite benefits in either program resulting from this change. However since stays in the Americas program count towards status in the Americas program, and stays elsewhere in the world need to be credited to a different program, elite tiers will become more difficult to earn for guests who currently use the program around the world.
However elite status in one program can be recognized in the other. This requires joining the program a member isn’t automatically a part of, and calling Member Services before staying at a property in that program to have them match the member’s tier status in the other program.
The Radisson co-brand credit card is not changing with this program change, and there is a 100,000 point offer for the card presently. The card’s free night certificate earned via spend each year is already geographically restricted so the program separation won’t be limiting there.