IHG appears to have rolled out fully dynamic pricing for awards. While that means some hotel redemptions for a very low number of points now, long term this is a terrible thing for members.
Dynamic pricing, where the number of points you spend ties to the room rate, means never getting a great deal using points compared to cash. There are times you would never have considered using points before, because a room was too cheap. Dynamic pricing can make you indifferent to cash versus points, the value for using points is never awful, but it’s never great either.
With fixed points pricing (an ‘award chart’) you can get fantastic deals using points – one price is charged all the time, so redeem your points when a room is expensive. Pay cash when rooms are cheap. With dynamic pricing, you get average value every time. That can effectively spell the end of the aspirational nature of a rewards program.
IHG removed their award charts but for the most part they’ve continued to price hotels based on their hidden chart. They began to have deviations last summer. Now points prices are all over the place.
A spokesperson for IHG last year confirmed they were working on ‘variable pricing’, they intended to roll it out before the end of 2019, but promised they would “be sharing additional details as they are available.” They never did that.
I tweeted yesterday about 30% and 40% redemption discounts at many IHG hotels, after it was pointed out by commenter tassojunior. One Mile at a Time this morning calls IHG’s dynamic pricing an “amazing deal” and points to offers like,
- Miami Kimptons at 25,000 points per night down from 40,000 or more
- InterContinental Danang at 40,000 points per night down from 40,000
- InterContinentals in Europe as low as 20,000 points per night
Historically IHG has been, in my view, the least transparent and trustworthy hotel program. Changes without notice is practically the slogan of the program. Googling site site for IHG ‘changes without notice’ literally brings up 7 pages of results. Ironically they understand the key elements of loyalty well, and just don’t practice it.
To be sure the chain already eliminated their award chart, matching Hilton. Marriott has gone to peak and off-peak pricing which gets at the same thing, and charges peak pricing most of the time at otherwise abandoned properties in Europe. And Hyatt has delayed their implementation of peak and off peak, but plans to go there as well.
I just don’t want you to get excited about this, and understand that hotel loyalty programs aren’t doing this for your benefit even though they will spin it otherwise.