Amazing Deal: IHG Dynamic Award Pricing

Filed Under: IHG Rewards
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This might be a good time to redeem IHG Rewards Club points, as the program has some exceptional deals available thanks to dynamic award pricing.

Dynamic award pricing is new for IHG

In early 2019, IHG Rewards Club revealed that they planned on rolling out variable award pricing. As the hotel group described it at the time, they were “testing new features for 2019 roll-out, designed to increase member engagement with variable point pricing.”

An IHG spokesperson ended up confirming the rumor, and said that dynamic award pricing would be introduced, describing it as follows:

“As part of a continued effort to enrich the value proposition for our IHG Rewards Club members, we’ll be introducing variable pricing on reward night redemptions. We’re testing new features for a planned roll-out this year, and will be sharing additional details as they are available.”

This new award pricing went live in April 2020

IHG didn’t end up introducing variable award pricing in 2019, though in late April 2020 I wrote about how we saw the first signs of this. Initially we only saw dynamic award pricing at select properties in mainland China and Taiwan.

For example, we saw pricing at the Regent Taipei ranging from 30,000 points per night to 60,000 points per night.

At the Hotel Indigo Taipei North we saw pricing ranging from 12,500 points per night to 17,500 points per night.

At the time we didn’t see dynamic award pricing outside of parts of Asia, but that has finally changed.

IHG’s new widespread and (very) dynamic award pricing

In the past few days IHG appears to have rolled out dynamic award pricing on a widespread basis. In general I’m not a fan of this concept, but in this particular situation it’s leading to some incredible deals. Perhaps rather than offering dynamic award pricing they’re really just offering a sale on awards.

Presumably this comes down to the current state of hotel occupancy, and IHG wanting people to redeem points. I wouldn’t necessarily expect this incredible pricing to stick around long-term. In many cases I’m seeing points rates reduced by almost 50%.

For example, in Miami I’m seeing Kimptons for 25,000 points per night, when they’re usually 40,000+ points per night.

The InterContinental Danang is usually 70,000 points per night, but is now 40,000 points per night.

Many InterContinentals in Europe are also heavily discounted, with some available for just 20,000 points per night.

While not all hotels are discounted, I’m seeing significantly reduced rates across tons of hotels.

This could also be useful if you have an IHG free night certificate since these are valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night. This promotional pricing expands the properties where these can be redeemed.

Dynamic award pricing is the norm at this point

At some point, the concept of variable award pricing at hotels may have sounded bad, but at this point, it’s basically the norm:

The challenge with IHG is that they don’t have an official award chart, so it can be tough to make sense of the exact patterns they’re following. Still, overall it seems to me like this is more peak and off-peak pricing than truly dynamic pricing.

That’s to say that at a given hotel the price is one of three amounts, rather than it truly being variable and tied to the cash cost of a stay on a particular night.

Earning IHG Rewards Club points is easy

If you’re looking to earn IHG Rewards Club points, these are quite easy to come by:

Bottom line

IHG Rewards Club seems to have now rolled out dynamic award pricing on a widespread basis, after an initial rollout in mainland China and Taiwan several weeks ago.

There are some values to be had right now redeeming IHG points, where you’ll get well over 0.5 cents of value per point (which is usually what I value these points at). I wouldn’t expect dynamic redemptions to be this compelling long term, but with hotels empty, I guess they’re trying to encourage people to redeem points.

If you have a stockpile of IHG points, this might be a good time to redeem, even if only speculatively.

Do you see any particularly good values for redeeming IHG Rewards Club points?

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Comments
  1. As soon as I read corporate-speak like “As part of a continued effort to enrich the value proposition”, I know I’m being shafted and I stop reading. I don’t want their semi-literate garbage infecting my brain.

    I was always told you give the customer the facts and explain the features, and they get to decide whether or not it’s an “improvement” or a “benefit”. I really value an honest relationship with my suppliers, where they treat me as an adult and they use simple language.

    A snarky journalist in the FT described receiving a company’s annual report which had the bold title “Sharing Our Success” (“or”, the journalist added, “as I call it ‘boasting’”).

  2. The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that points had value. And like that, it’s gone.

  3. @ Ben — Well, it looks like my valuation of 0.30-0.35 cpp is spot on. This is precisely why no one should have been buying IHG points, even with a 100% bonus.

  4. What’s really nice about IHG’s approach to variable pricing is that it’s based on expected occupancy rather than price. The Regent Taipei used to cost 60,000 points every day of the year, whereas now it costs as low as half that on off-peak days. And unlike Hilton, even if the price is still high, the points cost could be low since the points cost isn’t tied to the cash price. So staying somewhere in the off season could be a great deal.

    Of course it remains to be seen if the approach stays this way or if they start massively inflating the points price and/or make it tied to the cash price.

  5. Booked a couple of nights in Shanghai, actually worth the price. You can get some really good IC and Indigo at 15000-20000, which will cost you at least 150USD in cash. Seems that they just halved the original reward booking price. Almost all HI and HIX are priced at 10000 pts.

    P.S. IC Shanghai Wonderland (The Underwater Hotel) is now 40000 points.

  6. So how will they calculate the 4th night free on award stays if the prices are different for some of the nights? The 4th night is free? Save average cost of nights?

  7. @the nice paul

    This turgid corporate-speak was inevitable once core benefits started being eroded [fill in the industry]. A seemingly engaged, high-minded and caring way of letting customers know what was good for them. Instead of letting the customer decide for themselves. All of it bull****, of course. What I find striking is that as a university business student in the late 90s, I would have been thoroughly flogged by my lecturers for using this turgid corporate-speak. Back then, the true-and-tried “features and benefits” philosophy (delivered in relatively unadorned language) was all that mattered.

  8. I value IHG and their points for the simple reason that they have hotels in many locations where there are not any other points options. I keep a stash for only that reason. I view them as a “free” place to sleep in more off-the-beaten path locations, and for that I am perfectly happy with them.

  9. Chase IHG free night certificates are not working on bookings at several Intercontinental hotels pricing at 40k/night. I’ve called IHG several times today trying to make bookings. Very frustating!

  10. Got some bargains in Florida yesterday. The DP doesn’t seem to be in effect for the east coast or California yet. Be careful with the 4th night free as that sometimes is more expensive for some reason.

  11. @tassojunior

    Yep, had a reservation for 55K/night for 3 nights with 4th night free. Now the price is 47,500 night. Cancelled and rebooked and it still charged my 55K/night for the 3 nights. Called and they didn’t even understand how I was getting the 4th night free when I told them it is a credit card perk. Tried online chat support and they didn’t help either. So the credit card perk is more like half your 4th night free if the dynamic price is lower than standard.

  12. Important that you also add that you can now use your Chase free nights for a higher value property with a small cash payment (or at least that’s why I got when redeeming my old Chase Select night)

    So, for example, the IHG Willard in DC is 60k a night for Oct 12 – 13… but you can use your Chase free night to bring that down to a $65 cash payment

  13. Thank you for writing this! My stay next week in Flagstaff just went down from 35k/night to 17.5k a night! Rebooked! Also booked 4 nights in Banff for half the cost in late August. (If it’s open…) This article just helped me get 10 nights out of my IHG signup bonus just in the past hour! A quick note: properties in California were not showing flex pricing when I tried to put in a bunch of dates. Thanks as always!

  14. Anyone know if I use points to get a room at an IC will my AMB kick in and I’ll get a room upgrade?

  15. @BrightonReader YMMV. I’ve had good luck, but the properties aren’t required to honor AMB benefits. Best bet is to contact the property directly before arrival.

  16. I checked Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, I don’t see any variable pricing than I checked a couple months ago or before.

  17. @Ray – At least in this case yes. Destroying the aspirational value of hotel points destroys the program since the times where you actually want to use the points because cash prices are so high, the prices on points are now jacked up as well. As the last program standing, Hyatt has my loyalty for not pulling this crap.

  18. @Reginald – You may be right. I’m not certain what you base your promises on but I fear that when every single other major program intentionally hoses the customer, Hyatt will eventually be likely to follow suit. Still, I feel that showing loyalty to Hyatt when they’ve been the most loyal to customers is both emotionally and intellectually correct. Certainly it would be a terrible idea to show loyalty to companies that show disdain for loyal customers instead of choosing better companies like Hyatt.

  19. @the nice paul

    Agreed 100%. I can’t recall when this idiotic mode of speech reared its ugly head (00s?) but it wasn’t the norm in the late 90s as a young business undergrad. I used to stop reading as soon as I encountered this alien tongue, but the problem was I sometimes missed out on useful info/deals etc. So now I grit my teeth and endure it, for the sake of not missing out. But at least as co-manager of a company I ensure we never pump out rubbish talk like this to our customers and other companies.

  20. @Christian sez: “Still, I feel that showing loyalty to Hyatt when they’ve been the most loyal to customers is both emotionally and intellectually correct.”

    Funny thing is that not only do I feel exactly the same way about Hilton, but I can also easily say and show why I feel that way; not just claim that to be the case.

  21. @Christian sez: “At least in this case yes. Destroying the aspirational value of hotel points destroys the program since the times where you actually want to use the points because cash prices are so high, the prices on points are now jacked up as well. As the last program standing, Hyatt has my loyalty for not pulling this crap.”

    Don’t mean to pick you, but that is a misconception about dynamic award pricing I debunked more than 3 years ago. I am pleased that @Lucky was upbeat about this IHG change, which does not “destroy the aspirational value of hotel points [or] the program”, as many claimed 3 years would happen to Hilton Honors and it has not.

    In fact, I just addressed [read: debunked] a claim similar to yours over at VFTW. It is just confusion, misunderstanding and the general paranoia that programs are out to get their members:
    ________________

    @Gary [Leff] claims: “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.*”

    That claim is simply not true, and the reason it is not is that standard award rates are *capped* even for programs that use dynamic pricing and have no award chart. What that means is that at very high end, cash rates may continue to rise but award rates would remain at the cap value, thereby *unlinking* the two and leading to outsized redemption values at ‘aspirational’ properties, especially when combined with the “5th award night free” perk (that World of Hyatt, the “best” program, still does not offer!!!).

    It is based on the just enunciated principle that over the New Year 2020 festivities, I achieved a nominal redemption value of ¢4/HH point on a 5-night award stay at WA Maldives Ithaafushi.

    I’d, in fact, posted the *mathemcatical* proof of what I just stated above over at the now largely defunct InsideFlyer site, and can get into the archives to dig it out..
    ________________

    I might add that the wonderful side of dynamic award pricing, which gets lost in all the paranoia but @Lucky just showed here, is the flip side of what everyone fears and obsesses about in regard of dynamic award pricing: One can get some amazing redemptions very cheaply when cash rates drop [see @Lucky’s post above]!

    I just might do a ‘reality check’ piece on this on my blog if the confusion persists. 😉

  22. “…pick ON you…”

    ”…in regard TO dynamic…”

    Please implement DISQUS, which offers the option to edit one’s comments to achieve higher clarity!!!

  23. @John — I wrote a comment with a point relevant to the thread. Address the content of the comment [which I doubt you can do cogently] or do not address me. It is that simple.

  24. Now if someone would just stir the pot about points valuation. 😉

    ~ The Holy Great Honorable Eskimo (<—- this is fun)

  25. New Years Eve Miami at Intercontinental 4 nights with IHG premier card priced at 112k points total. Kimpton Epic is 138k total (cash rate over $2k). Some v good deals out there

  26. The thing is, breakfast is the norm for local hotels in Asia, unlike western chains where breakfast is only part of high tier customers. Even at 20,000 I don’t think it’s worth it for the Regent Taipei

  27. Now if someone is ignorant or wazzock enough and took the bait. 😉

    ~ The Honorable Holy Smokes Eskimo (<—- this is still fun)

  28. Great flag, Ben. Glad that properties with award space always zeroed out in the high season *cough* Kimpton Seafire *cough* are now available too. Just booked it made use of the 4th night free benefit.

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