Has there been a secret devaluation?

Old Aug 1, 16, 11:44 am
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Has there been a secret devaluation?

I was just looking at making an award reservation for a weekday in (of all places) Rapid City, SD for September. As you might expect, this is not an expensive hotel town nor do things seem particularly busy at that time. Yet all of the Choice hotels (there are a half dozen) are pricing at 30,000 points, except for an Econolodge at 10,000 points. Available room rates for this night at the 30K properties seem to range from $70 to $140. I would normally expect to see prices in the 12,000 to 16,000 range.

Is this just bad luck (like maybe Rapid City is busy and expensive in summer, and it doesn't get repriced for September), or is something bad going on here with award pricing? If ordinary Comfort Inns are now going for 30K, there's a serious problem with the program.
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Old Aug 1, 16, 2:58 pm
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Mount Rushmore traffic perhaps?

People are probably redeeming a lot of award nights in the city, so they jacked up the points required versus the cash rate.
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Old Aug 1, 16, 3:08 pm
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It seems like the summer award pricing stretches into September, as it seems the award period lengths are around 6 to 8 weeks. So the August reward pricing goes through some of September. That seems a little silly, considering that I would think Labor Day Weekend would be the end of the busy season in most places.

That said, iahphx, I think that a lot of the properties have realized that the Choice rewards program was very good for guests, but not so much for the properties themselves. In other words, people --like me-- were booking up the 6000 point rewards during busy times and probably costing the properties money. I don't know exactly how Choice "pays back" the properties on points stays, but something tells me it wasn't the same high rates that revenue guests were paying.

I know of a property that I was originally going to stay in next month in San Francisco. It was a Rodeway Inn in the Tenderloin district (not a particularly nice area of town). I remember from checking in the past that it used to be 6000 points a night, which would be perfect for me. Well, lo and behold, I was going to book it at the end of next September. Even being well past the summer season, that flophouse is now 30,000 points seven days a week. I still can't believe it.

So, yes, there have been some serious devaluations going on. There are other places I've noticed, but that one in San Francisco takes the cake as far as the ones I've seen.
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Old Aug 1, 16, 4:31 pm
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Several months ago some otherwise unpublished devaluation became rather obvious to me in that some newly opened properties in Europe (in relatively cheap cities) were being default set at a redemption price of 30,000 points.

It's been a concern of mine for some time that the program was heading toward a cliff like some lemmings do.
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Old Aug 1, 16, 6:59 pm
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Well, there have always been problems with Choice Rewards because: 1) the program often seems unprofessionally run and they publish basically nothing on award categories; and 2) the bloggers don't really keep track of it, so there isn't really any data on devaluation and such.

That said, there's obviously something rotten here. It was just a few years ago when they added the 30K category and now run-of-the-mill roadside motels are in it.

I didn't get to buy more points in the last Discover America promo (I was flying at the time) and now I think that may have been a good thing. The points are definitely worth materially less than they were even a year or two ago. It's become kind of random whether the points are useful. When I look for an award, I can't even guess what the redemption level is going to be these days.
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Old Aug 2, 16, 11:35 am
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Probably something localized. I just booked a night in a king bed suite mid August at a Comfort Inn & Suites property in Birmingham, AL for 12k points.
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Old Aug 2, 16, 11:30 pm
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I think there is some funny business going on. I redeemed 6,000 point hotel stays last year but now 30,000 is common even for places that expense account business travelers would call dumps.
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Old Aug 3, 16, 5:36 am
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I'm new to Choice, but here is what I'm seeing. In Three Rivers near a national park in CA, a weekday rate next week is $175 or 30,000 point (is that the max points for Choice) or 6,000 point + $180 (that isn't a typo....)

My wife and I are planning to stay 2 weekdays the last week in September. That rate is $113 or 20,000 points or 6,000 points + $105 (again, not a typo).

I posted this in another thread, but if you click on the name of the hotel and scroll down, you can actually see the posted reward night points required and when they are supposed to change.

Here is what is interesting, my wife and I are staying at the Ascend Collection in Oakhurst CA the last week of September after Oakhurst, there points were 20,000/night (no additional for weekends) and the rate was $180ish/night.

We live in DC, the 2 Choice hotels here are 30,000 points or from $220 to $280 for a mid-week stay next week. In Manassas VA (about 30 miles away), you can stay at a Quality Inn for 8,000 points or $90.

So, in some instances, the rates to points seem to follow about 1,000 points per $10. In DC, both the Cambria and Comfort Inn are 30,000 points ( is Cambria the premium Choice brand??) However, what I'm seeing at Three Rivers is what the OP experienced, very high rewards rates in relation to the cost. I'm new to Choice, so perhaps others can let us know how this compares to past.

Would be interesting to know who sets the points (does Choice HQ decide for the hotels/motels unilaterally).
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Old Aug 3, 16, 6:27 pm
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There has been a wholesale devaluation at my benchmark hotels since the beginning of the year. The one that hasn't gone up across the board has, as anticipated, gone to the weekday/weekend split with the weekdays staying the same as they have been, and the weekends increasing in point requirements. I've looked from here out to November (non-Veterans'/Thanksgiving Days). And these are the humblest of the humble.

And I can't make sense of the points + $ rates.
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Old Aug 3, 16, 7:01 pm
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Maybe the Choice person here can elaborate. When they rolled out the weekday differential, s/he definitely said it wasn't a devaluation.

Points + Cash is likely an IT bug, they are still having issues with the website.

I still don't understand the logic of both Cambria and Comfort Inn requiring 30K in DC since I really though Cambria was a higher end Choice hotel.


Originally Posted by Firewind View Post
There has been a wholesale devaluation at my benchmark hotels since the beginning of the year. The one that hasn't gone up across the board has, as anticipated, gone to the weekday/weekend split with the weekdays staying the same as they have been, and the weekends increasing in point requirements. I've looked from here out to November (non-Veterans'/Thanksgiving Days). And these are the humblest of the humble.

And I can't make sense of the points + $ rates.
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Old Aug 3, 16, 7:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Firewind View Post
And I can't make sense of the points + $ rates.
The points + $ rates are simple, if you realize that all the $ component is simply is the cost of buying the difference in points (between the points-only rate and the 6000 points of the points + $ rate).

No matter what the points-only rate is, the points + $ rate is always 6000 points + a dollar component. If the points-only rate is 8000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 2000 points. If the points-only rate is 10000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 4000 points. If the points-only rate is 16000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 10000 points. If the points-only rate is 25000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 19000 points.

That's why the dollar component is very low when the points rate is quite low, and shoots up drastically as the points rate goes up into "middle" points rates.

This is very similar to how the IHG program works. In both the Choice and IHG program, with points + cash you're simply buying points at the moment of reservation, and if you later cancel the reservation, you get back only the full points.

So at Choice if you make a reservation for 6000 + $75 when the points-only rate was 16000, you'll get back back 16000 + $0, rather than 6000 + $75.

Similarly, at IHG if you make a reservation for 5000 points + $70 instead of 15000 points, and you cancel it, you get back 15000 points + $0, rather than 5000 points + $70.

Thus in the IHG program you buy 5000 points for $40 or 10000 points for $70 in a points + cash reservation, while in the Choice program you buy 10000 points for $75. Not exactly the same, but in the same ballpark.

Thus at Choice (or IHG), there's never a better time or worse time to use points + cash. It should simply be based on whether you need to buy points or not, or if there's a promo to do so. (There are some other programs, like Hilton HHonors, where you're not buying points, and where the balance between the points and cash is quite different from one hotel for one date vs another hotel for another date, and where points + cash rates are far from always available.)

Last edited by sdsearch; Aug 3, 16 at 7:24 pm
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Old Aug 4, 16, 4:36 am
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I think firewind was referencing the example I gave where points + cash cost more dollars, than just paying cash.

Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
The points + $ rates are simple, if you realize that all the $ component is simply is the cost of buying the difference in points (between the points-only rate and the 6000 points of the points + $ rate).

No matter what the points-only rate is, the points + $ rate is always 6000 points + a dollar component. If the points-only rate is 8000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 2000 points. If the points-only rate is 10000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 4000 points. If the points-only rate is 16000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 10000 points. If the points-only rate is 25000, the dollar component is the cost of buying 19000 points.

That's why the dollar component is very low when the points rate is quite low, and shoots up drastically as the points rate goes up into "middle" points rates.

This is very similar to how the IHG program works. In both the Choice and IHG program, with points + cash you're simply buying points at the moment of reservation, and if you later cancel the reservation, you get back only the full points.

So at Choice if you make a reservation for 6000 + $75 when the points-only rate was 16000, you'll get back back 16000 + $0, rather than 6000 + $75.

Similarly, at IHG if you make a reservation for 5000 points + $70 instead of 15000 points, and you cancel it, you get back 15000 points + $0, rather than 5000 points + $70.

Thus in the IHG program you buy 5000 points for $40 or 10000 points for $70 in a points + cash reservation, while in the Choice program you buy 10000 points for $75. Not exactly the same, but in the same ballpark.

Thus at Choice (or IHG), there's never a better time or worse time to use points + cash. It should simply be based on whether you need to buy points or not, or if there's a promo to do so. (There are some other programs, like Hilton HHonors, where you're not buying points, and where the balance between the points and cash is quite different from one hotel for one date vs another hotel for another date, and where points + cash rates are far from always available.)
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Old Aug 4, 16, 12:53 pm
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Originally Posted by charlesonmission View Post
I think firewind was referencing the example I gave where points + cash cost more dollars, than just paying cash.
Yes, but my explanation shows why this can easily happen. The cash portion of the points + cash rate is the cost of buying the extra points, which has to do with the points-only rate, but nothing to do with the cash-only rate. The only additional piece of information you need, which I would think most people would already know, is that there is no consistent relationship between the all-cash cost of a hotel and the all-points cost of a hotel.
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Old Aug 4, 16, 7:26 pm
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Yes, I agree with the point on the relationship. However, my point was that there isn't a reason to pay more cash plus points if the cash only rate is less. That is an IT bug to me.

Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
Yes, but my explanation shows why this can easily happen. The cash portion of the points + cash rate is the cost of buying the extra points, which has to do with the points-only rate, but nothing to do with the cash-only rate. The only additional piece of information you need, which I would think most people would already know, is that there is no consistent relationship between the all-cash cost of a hotel and the all-points cost of a hotel.
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Old Aug 4, 16, 8:06 pm
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Originally Posted by charlesonmission View Post
Yes, I agree with the point on the relationship. However, my point was that there isn't a reason to pay more cash plus points if the cash only rate is less. That is an IT bug to me.
If you mean that it's an IT bug to display the cash + points rate when it works out to be more than the cash rate for the best room you can get with cash + points, I might almost agree.

But keep in mind that cash + points may let you get the best room in the hotel, which could cost significantly more than the rate that's displayed in the hotel list summary. So it would take some involved IT to check all the rooms that were available for cash + points against those rooms' cash only rates + tax, and if in all those cases the cash + points cost more, then suppress displaying it.

But that's a pretty involved algorithm. So I'd at most call it an "IT laziness", rather than an "IT bug", since some people (who have a specific room type in mind) might hate the cash + points rate disappearing when it can save them money on a more expensive room at that hotel, even if it looks like it makes no sense for the cheapest room at that hotel.
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