Want to get the best possible return on your hotel spending when you claim award stays in a loyalty program? According to a new study, you won’t get the best reward stay value from Hilton, InterContinental, Marriott or Starwood.
The second annual investigation from IdeaWorks Company and Switchfly found that loyalty program members get the best return from Wyndham’s Wyndham Rewards, which provided members an average reward stay return of 13.6 percent on their spending. “That’s a 143 percent higher return than the reward value provided by Starwood SPG, which was ranked last among the six hotel loyalty programs at 5.6 percent for reward payback,” the company said.
In a similar study it conducted a year ago, IdeaWorks only included Marriott, Starwood, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group. This year, it added Wyndham and Choice Hotels International.
And this year’s study was conducted in August – just before the Marriott/Starwood merger was finalized, and before Marriott announced that members of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest could link their loyalty accounts.
How did the company calculate a traveler’s award stay “return” on hotel spending? It conducted more than 1,300 reward stay requests across the six brands, recording the lowest point price for rewards and the corresponding dollar price of the room, adjusting for the different rates of point accrual in the various programs. Thus it came up with a percentage return on spending. (What this survey leaves out are the elite level perks that can greatly increase the perceived value of each program, especially in the eyes of business travelers.)
“For example, the 9% rate for Marriott Rewards represents average reward value payback of $9.00 for every $100 spent on hotel room rates,” the company said. “By comparison, IdeaWorks Company calculated that reward payback for major US airlines ranges from 3.1% to 7.9%.”
The report noted that these returns are only averages, and that the actual “payback” on award rooms can vary considerably depending on the property selected and the dates of stay, since room rates vary by demand while award prices generally remain the same. The best return the study found was a 39.1 percent rate for a December 10 stay at Wyndham’s NYC-The New Yorker hotel, where 15,000 points secured a room priced at $587 that night. The worst was a 2.0 percent return for a February 18 stay at Starwood’s Westin New York Grand Central, with 25,000 points required for a $253 room.
The company said it added Wyndham and Choice to the study this year to include brands that are heavy in “the economy end of the market,” vs. the higher-end products of Hilton, IHG, Marriott and Starwood.
“Consumers should be careful when choosing a program,” the company noted. “Choice has a very unusual and highly restrictive approach for availability and booking. General members can only book rewards 30 days in advance, or 60 days for hotels outside the US and Canada. Elite status provides a larger booking window up to 100 days in advance. And while Wyndham Grand (i.e., Wyndham’s high-end brand) was found to offer exceptional reward payback, the brand’s global footprint is limited to 30+ hotels in eight countries.”
Wyndham has 15 brands, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Garden Hotels, Wyndham Grand, Wingate by Wyndham, TRYP by Wyndham, Travelodge, Super 8, Ramada, Microtel, Knights Inn, Howard Johnson’s, Hawthorn Suites, Dolce, Days inn and Baymont Inn & Suites.
What do you think of Wyndham’s brands? Does it’s higher value rating make you more inclined to stay at one of them? Please leave your comments below.
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