It seems like hotel programs have been incentivizing booking low end hotels — keeping those cheap, making the points cost even cheaper than before — while pricing top end awards astronomically. We’ve seen massive ‘category creep’ at Marriott. Two years ago Hilton increased the price of their top awards as much as 90%. Hyatt created a new category 7 with higher prices for their most expensive properties.
Wyndham is going the opposite direction. They are creating a single award chart price of 15,000 points per night. That’s an increase for the cheapest hotels, and a decrease for the most expensive hotels.
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar, Puerto Rico
Here’s the current Wyndham award chart:
There’s only going to be one award category going forward: 15,000 points.
The other key changes they’re talking about now:
- Minimum earning. You earn 10 points per dollar spent, but there will be a minimum 1000 points earned per stay.
- Cash and points awards. These are capacity controlled and will 3000 points plus a variable amount of cash that hasn’t been released yet.
Like most programs, Wyndham devalued at the beginning of 2013. Some properties went up by as much as 87.5%. After prodding they put together a list of hotels changing prices. Not one to give advance notice to members, they pulled a similar trick last year. (They also cut the value of points transfers to miles in half with no notice.)
It’s interesting to seem them reversing course. The most expensive properties drop from 50,000 points down to 15,000 points per night, while maintaining last standard room availability. That’s huge.
Here’s another way to look at it: They’re:
- reversing course on the price increases of the past two years for the top end hotels
- nearly tripling the price of the least expensive hotels.
See, up until January 2013 most Wyndham properties could be had for 16,000 points. The advent of these 30,000 and 50,000 point rooms is actually new.
And it must not have worked well for Wyndham Rewards. When you make rewards unattainable for members the program loses its power.
Hotel programs can serve their chains well by giving members something to strive for and not pricing them so outrageously that redemptions aren’t realistic goals.
Wyndham is a large chain, with properties clustered at the lower end. They’re closer in size to Hilton, Marriott, and IHG than they are to Hyatt and Starwood. There are a limited number of top-end properties where this change will be of benefit, but for those it looks like a real win — while it won’t be much of a win for those who look for points to use at Baymont Inns and Days Inn properties.