I admit it — I have been quite tough on the Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program lately.
First, there was the mysterious increase of the redemption of Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points by almost 282 percent earlier this year at one hotel property in New York — the Wingate by Wyndham Manhattan Midtown located on West 35 Street in New York, classified as a category 4 hotel property — with apparently no notice at all to Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program members.
Then came the restructuring of the Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program announced last month — which caused confusion because the new point level tiers were not aligned with the former point level tiers — to be effective as of March 14, 2013, with the proclamation that “free nights just got faster” by “decreasing” the redemption amount of Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points by 500 at the lowest level and by 15,000 at the highest level, as according to the following chart — using the information provided by Wyndham Rewards — with the new tiers are numbered in dark red:
|Former Free Night Point Level Tier
|New Free Night Point Level Tier
|Difference in Wyndham Rewards Points
500 fewer points
2,000 fewer points
4,000 fewer points
1,000 fewer points
The problem was that the shift in point level tiers of specific hotel properties — as well as by how many point level tiers they shifted — were unknown…
Despite my strong criticism of the Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program — not initially undeserved, in my opinion — two official company representatives posted the following responses in the Comments section of this article posted at The Gate:
We appreciate your sharing your concerns with us. One of our goals this year is to make free nights faster by creating a new 5,500 point tier which is the lowest spend required for a free night across loyalty programs. We have also eliminated our two highest tiers (35,000 and 45,000) so fewer points are required for our more expensive hotels. Similar to other hotel programs, the points required are adjusted periodically for individual hotels based on average daily rates which fluctuate over time, which means there are hotels that may increase in point level. We wanted to provide advance notice to our members about the changes in case they are planning to make a free night reservation in the next several weeks. As noted on our website, points needed for a free night are based on the hotel’s tier at the time of reservation and may be different at the time of the stay. If a point adjustment is needed, our Member Services Center would be happy to help after the stay is completed. We hope this helps to clarify.
The above comment was posted on February 22, 2013; while the comment below was posted on March 1, 2013:
“In response to the feedback that you requested a list of hotels that are changing categories beginning March 14, 2013, we have posted a chart at https://www.wyndhamrewards.com/trec/consumer/special.action?partner=fnstiers&variant= . While we have a large number of properties changing categories, we have not made overall changes to our hotels in more than 3 years. Now that hotel prices are changing in many markets, we are making some adjustments. Note that we strive to make free nights as accessible as possible for our members so we are lowering our first tier hotels from 6,000 to 5,500 points, lower than our major competitors. We are also eliminating our top two tiers of 35,000 and 45,000 to make our higher-end hotels more affordable.
“If any of our members have made free night reservations for March 14 and after at a hotel that is moving to a lower tier, we would be happy to adjust the points after your stay if you contact Member Services at 1.866.996.7937. If the hotel you are thinking about is moving up in points, we suggest you make your free night reservation prior to March 13 to ensure the current point pricing.
“As always, thanks for your feedback.”
Rather than post a reply in the Comments section, I want to publicly thank both company representatives for posting. I do appreciate it — and, hopefully, so do the readers of The Gate — and please feel free to post more often.
I clicked on the links to view the list of properties with increasing point levels or decreasing point levels, both of which are saved in Portable Document Format by Adobe Systems Incorporated. By my count, a total of 4,083 hotel properties have increased by at least one category; while 783 hotel properties have decreased by at least one category.
The first thought that may come to mind is “What?!? Five times as many hotels are increasing in point level tiers than those which are decreasing in point level tiers? Massive devaluation!!!” However, it is not as simple as that — and that is actually good.
You see, a hotel property formerly classified at a category 2 point level tier — such as the Ramada Plaza Zhengzhou in China, for example — cost 10,000 Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points to redeem. That hotel property will increase in classification to a category 3 point level tier as of March 14, 2013, which will cost — you may have guessed it — 10,000 Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points to redeem.
In other words, an increase in point level tier may not necessarily mean an increase in the redemption of Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points for an award night. This right there decreases the dreaded “devaluation” blow.
Sure, there are some significant increases that will be considered a significant devaluation — such as the Super 8 Port Elgin hotel property in Ontario, Canada, which will jump four levels from a category 4 point level tier to a category 8 point level tier as of March 14, 2013. That translates to a jump from 15,000 Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points per award night to 30,000 — an increase of 100 percent.
However, there are some significant decreases as well — such as the Days Hotel Bournemouth hotel property in the United Kingdom, which will fall four levels from a category 6 point level tier to a category 2 point level tier as of March 14, 2013. That translates to a decrease from 20,000 Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points per award night to 8,000 — meaning that you can stay for two nights instead of one and still have a surplus of 2,000 Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points left over to use elsewhere.
If there is no change in point level tier for a hotel property, this means that there will be no increase in the redemption of Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points per award night — and it could even mean a reduction of as many as 4,000 Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points, according to the chart above.
My numbers may be off due to the intermediate restructuring of the Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program announced last month, which curiously did not include the 15,000, 20,000 and 30,000 point level tiers — meaning that I have to wonder which former point level tiers Wyndham Rewards is using on the lists of category changes of hotel properties — but I blame the confusion on Wyndham Rewards by not initially communicating the changes more clearly, timely and transparently. Doing so would have averted a lot of negative publicity — but I again thank the official company representatives for their clarifications. Better late than never, I suppose.
To summarize, how this affects you depends on at which hotel property you plan to use your Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points for award nights. Hotel properties in the United States will not be as significantly affected as those at hotel properties located outside the United States — including Canada, as represented by the aforementioned example. This is not the massive ”devaluation” originally anticipated — and, in fact, members of the Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program might actually benefit in a number of scenarios.