In October I wrote that I expected Wyndham to abandon their one price for all hotel awards and move to a tiered award chart.
Specifically four years ago they introduced 15,000 points per night at all hotels and when they introduced redemptions for timeshares and vacation rentals those were also priced at 15,000 points (per bedroom) per night.
That’s happening. They’re also tweaking elite benefits and adding new earning and redemption partners. And there’s a last chance to transfer La Quinta points without losing half their value.
New Award Price Levels Start April 3
What I wrote in the fall is that Wyndham Rewards would likely move to 3 price levels: 7500 points, 15,000 points, and 30,000 points. This morning that’s exactly what they’re announcing.
Cash and points (‘GoFast’) awards will change as well: 1500 points + cash, 3000 points + cash, and 6000 points + cash. These GoFast rates will start earning points on cash portion paid.
Wyndham says to expect,
- One-third of hotels to drop to 7500 points per night
- Most properties to remain 15,000 points per night
- Only ~ 200 hotels to go up to 30,000 points per night
- Hotels will be recategorized annually though they don’t anticipate significant shift
Apparently most vacation rental and timeshare properties will remain 15,000 points per bedroom per night though some will move up as well.
This change goes into effect April 3 when La Quinta becomes part of Wyndham Rewards. They are not revealing which hotels are changing category in advance although you can bet that the more expensive and desirable properties will go up in price.
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar, Puerto Rico
Still they claim this is giving members 7 weeks’ notice of the change even though they aren’t releasing which hotels are changing. Just assume the good ones you’d want to stay at will, and make bookings no later than April 2 for future stays.
I spoke with Eliot Hamlisch, Wyndham’s Senior Vice President of global loyalty and partnerships, about the changes and he suggested anyone that’s been saving points towards a specific reward and feels they’ve been unfairly disadvantaged by the changes can reach out to an email set up for program members to get high-level attention: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile anyone with a booking at a property whose points price drops will automatically get a refund of points.
Ultimately the flat pricing meant the best properties got a disproportionate amount of award redemption, filling incremental rooms and generating incremental revenue for properties. The program must not believe they got enough of a benefit from members out of this arrangement, and I have to think that many hotel owners didn’t love the arrangement. Lower pricing for cheaper properties will mean more award nights at those properties. Meanwhile the best hotels (such as they are) become less attainable.
Changes to Elite Points Earning
Wyndham introduced elite benefits in 2016. Now they’re changing elite points bonuses.
Instead of Platinums receiving 3000 bonus points per year and Diamonds receiving 6000, all elites will receive a percentage bonus based on points earned for their hotel spend:
- Gold: 10%
- Platinum: 15%
- Diamond: 20%
Golds come out ahead with this change since they didn’t previously receive bonuses. Roughly speaking Platinums break even at $2000 annual spend (10 points per dollar = 20,000 earned x 15% = 3000 points) and Diamonds at $3000 annual spend.
Since Platinum and Diamond are earned at 15 and 40 nights per year respectively folks who just squeeze by at Platinum are likely to lose out while those earning Diamond should come out somewhat ahead. The wrinkle here is that minimum earn is 1000 points regardless of room rate, and there are some super cheap hotels in the chain where one night stays can throw off this calculation.
Convert Your La Quinta Points By April 2 Or Lose Half Their Value
The La Quinta acquisition brings in millions of La Quinta Rewards members who have been able to move their points over to Wyndham Rewards 1:1. That continues through March 31.
Any La Quinta Gold elite or higher, or Wyndham Platinum or higher, will have their La Quinta points auto converted at 1:1.
However those without such status who do not proactively transfer their points themselves will lose half the value of their points — getting a reduced rate of 2 La Quinta points to 1 Wyndham Rewards point. I guess they figure if you aren’t paying attention enough to move your points, you won’t notice when they lose value.
New Earning and Redemption Partnerships
The program is introducing several new earn and burn features, including a shopping portal (powered by Points.com), earning points for food delivery with Door Dash (an increasingly competitive category), earning and redeeming points at Marathon gas stations (a legacy La Quinta partnership), and earning and redeeming points with Viator for tours and activities.
Considering these changes are being announced in conjunction with La Quinta joining Wyndham’s program their appropriate food partner would seem to be Denny’s though, don’t you think?