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Old Apr 4, 12, 7:26 am   #1
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Australia award travel

In anticipation of the Discover America sale (fingers crossed that Choice participates again), I've given some very initial thought to my likely travel needs for next year, as I want to buy the "right" number of points.

My initial plans call for a family trip to Australia during the USA summer. I remember reading that Choice dramatically hiked redemption prices in Australia a few years ago, making the points nearly useless there. I figured I'd check, and my preliminary review partially confirms this information -- but in a very weird way.

When I looked at a handful of different properties, I found very LOW redemption prices for every season OTHER than USA summer -- often only 8000 points (kaching!). But from July 1 to Sept. 15, most of these properties jump to 35,000 points. What the heck is that about? It's obviously completely illogical to have that kind of variation, and I wouldn't think that was even the peak travel period for Australia.

Has anyone been watching this and have experience with this fluctuation? Is there just some special promo going on before July 1, and will it likely be repeated next year? I was thinking of visiting in August next year, but might consider visiting in June if it would mean getting most of my accomodations for next to nothing. Of course, I'd need to have enough points!
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Old Apr 9, 12, 9:53 am   #2
 
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Choice Hotels in Australia / NZ are generally very expensive in points.
However, some hotels seems to participate to the 2 stays = 1 night free for 8000 points promo. A really really cheap redemption requirement, and no guaranty they will do it again next year...
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Old Apr 10, 12, 5:23 am   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
In anticipation of the Discover America sale (fingers crossed that Choice participates again), I've given some very initial thought to my likely travel needs for next year, as I want to buy the "right" number of points.

My initial plans call for a family trip to Australia during the USA summer. I remember reading that Choice dramatically hiked redemption prices in Australia a few years ago, making the points nearly useless there. I figured I'd check, and my preliminary review partially confirms this information -- but in a very weird way.

When I looked at a handful of different properties, I found very LOW redemption prices for every season OTHER than USA summer -- often only 8000 points (kaching!). But from July 1 to Sept. 15, most of these properties jump to 35,000 points. What the heck is that about? It's obviously completely illogical to have that kind of variation, and I wouldn't think that was even the peak travel period for Australia.

Has anyone been watching this and have experience with this fluctuation? Is there just some special promo going on before July 1, and will it likely be repeated next year? I was thinking of visiting in August next year, but might consider visiting in June if it would mean getting most of my accomodations for next to nothing. Of course, I'd need to have enough points!
There's no way to predict promos from one year to the next in Australia. IME, Choice promos like this are rare. In any case, if you want to save $$ and feel less crowded, avoid traveling during school holidays. The dates vary from state to state, and personally, I'd not travel when NSW, VIC, and QLD students are on vacation (that'll cover the great majority of school kids in Oz). You can google this info easily enough (e.g. NSW school holidays 2013) and plan accordingly.
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Old Apr 10, 12, 10:36 am   #4
 
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I think iahphx has turned over a rock here: that there are ever cheap or even reasonable redemptions Downunder.
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Old Apr 10, 12, 2:53 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
In anticipation of the Discover America sale (fingers crossed that Choice participates again), I've given some very initial thought to my likely travel needs for next year, as I want to buy the "right" number of points.
That's the issue with using Discover America with Choice (or, if available, with Priority Club for PointBreaks): You can't predict the redemption rate far enough in advance to avoid either buying too little or too much.

IMHO, choice works best for those who often enough need cheap suburban hotel stays in the US anyway, and can steer those stays to Choice during stay 2 get 8000 promos (which are very common). Then the easy goal is to keep earning oodles of points, then if you end up with too much, either burn them at those cheap suburban hotels outside of earning promos, or transfer to an airline. Since you haven't "paid extra" to get those points (you simply changed where you stay), it's not a problem ff sometimes you have to burn them up or transfer them out just to keep them from expiring. But I would guess that would seem like a worse fate if you had bought them in anticipation of using them one way and had to use them up a less effective way.

Or the other way it works well is for those traveling to a region where the point requirement fluctuates little (and yet is a good value), like Scandinavia (where most Choice hotels are 16k/night all year every year, knock on wood).
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Old Apr 10, 12, 8:28 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
When I looked at a handful of different properties, I found very LOW redemption prices for every season OTHER than USA summer -- often only 8000 points (kaching!). But from July 1 to Sept. 15, most of these properties jump to 35,000 points. What the heck is that about? It's obviously completely illogical to have that kind of variation, and I wouldn't think that was even the peak travel period for Australia.

Has anyone been watching this and have experience with this fluctuation? Is there just some special promo going on before July 1, and will it likely be repeated next year? I was thinking of visiting in August next year, but might consider visiting in June if it would mean getting most of my accomodations for next to nothing. Of course, I'd need to have enough points!
There is a special promo going through May 15th which has the hotels at 8000 points
http://www.choicehotels.com.au/en/tv-special-promotion/
"After a second qualifying stay, Member will receive enough Choice Privilegespoints to reach the 8,000 point level, which is the amount of points that may be redeemed from 8 March 2012 and 15 May 2012 for a free night at any Choice Privilegeshotel in Australasia."

And yes, it is interesting to see how much the point cost can change at Choice hotels.
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Old Apr 11, 12, 6:36 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
That's the issue with using Discover America with Choice (or, if available, with Priority Club for PointBreaks): You can't predict the redemption rate far enough in advance to avoid either buying too little or too much.

IMHO, choice works best for those who often enough need cheap suburban hotel stays in the US anyway, and can steer those stays to Choice during stay 2 get 8000 promos (which are very common). Then the easy goal is to keep earning oodles of points, then if you end up with too much, either burn them at those cheap suburban hotels outside of earning promos, or transfer to an airline. Since you haven't "paid extra" to get those points (you simply changed where you stay), it's not a problem ff sometimes you have to burn them up or transfer them out just to keep them from expiring. But I would guess that would seem like a worse fate if you had bought them in anticipation of using them one way and had to use them up a less effective way.

Or the other way it works well is for those traveling to a region where the point requirement fluctuates little (and yet is a good value), like Scandinavia (where most Choice hotels are 16k/night all year every year, knock on wood).
I was all over this promo until I read that the 8000 redemptions were only temporary. The Perth Comfort Inn Wentworth for example costs $110 to book but 20,000 to redeem at normal rates IF they have availability and you don't know until 60 days prior! Now I don't know if I want the points or not!
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Old Apr 16, 12, 8:55 am   #8
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OK, so if I'm understanding this correctly, Choice still charges a ton of points for their Australia hotels, but since they wanted to participate in the "stay two nights get one free promo" (that was worldwide, right?), they TEMPORARILY lowered the point requirements for their Australia hotels from a bizillion to 8000?

This is obviously a bizarre (and, I would submit, idiotic) way to run a loyalty program, but a temporary bonanza to those who want to spend Choice points in Australia.

It doesn't sound too likely to help me next year, though, so I won't plan on being able to redeem my points in Australia at reasonable levels.
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Old Apr 17, 12, 6:07 am   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
OK, so if I'm understanding this correctly, Choice still charges a ton of points for their Australia hotels, but since they wanted to participate in the "stay two nights get one free promo" (that was worldwide, right?), they TEMPORARILY lowered the point requirements for their Australia hotels from a bizillion to 8000?

This is obviously a bizarre (and, I would submit, idiotic) way to run a loyalty program, but a temporary bonanza to those who want to spend Choice points in Australia.

It doesn't sound too likely to help me next year, though, so I won't plan on being able to redeem my points in Australia at reasonable levels.
By my understanding, kinda...

It seems like the European and Australasia Choice hotels ended up lowering their redemption rates for this promotion, but the U.S. ones don't. Not sure why the others do unless there are local laws that require it for some strange reason. Especially strange with Australia's economy booming.

This promotion runs periodically in the U.S. This is the first time I've noticed the overseas promotions. I'm not sure if they have also had the promotion at the same(or similar) times and had a temporary lowering of redemption rates during such.

Has anyone done this promotion overseas before? Or know why they lowered redemption rates during the stay twice promotion?
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Old Apr 17, 12, 6:24 am   #10
 
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Just speaking to the Europe one, my perspective just goes back as far as last year. There were two rounds. This spring's is a reprise. I believe that the 8,000 point redemption sale there and the 8,000 point earn this round are coincidental, though someone at Choice Privileges must have run the numbers to see what the two are doing for each other. Again reflecting my limited perspective.
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Old Apr 22, 12, 1:48 pm   #11
 
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is there a list of 'standard' point requirements for every property? their website only seems to publish the requirements up until 15th september 2012.

what would be the rate after that date? or is there simply no way of knowing?
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Old Apr 22, 12, 1:56 pm   #12
 
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There is simply no way of knowing. And if you're happy with a rate you see, and don't grab it if your advance booking window allows, it may change sooner than 15 September. Not a high risk to make a "foot in the door" reservation, as the cancellation policy is usually a day or two ahead.
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