IHG Rewards Club overhaul: dynamic reward pricing lands in Australia

IHG Rewards Club shakes up its reward rates – now, the number of points needed per night can change from one day to the next.

By Chris Chamberlin, June 15 2020
IHG Rewards Club overhaul: dynamic reward pricing lands in Australia

Using your hard-earned IHG Rewards Club points towards a hotel booking at properties like InterContinental? The number of points you’ll need now varies from one night to the next, as the chain rolls out ‘dynamic’ reward pricing at its hotels across Australia and around the world.

Previously, IHG’s points rates remained static throughout the year, with the rate applied to each hotel determined by the ‘category’ of that hotel within the IHG Rewards Club program.

But under the new dynamic rewards system, the nightly asking price in points “will flex up and down just like cash rates,” an IHG spokesperson confirms to Executive Traveller.

As such, members won’t know how many points are needed for a particular stay until it comes time to make each booking – and even at the same hotel, booking a comparable stay in the future could require a different number of points.

IHG Rewards Club’s new dynamic structure

In the short term, IHG Rewards Club is avoiding any increases to the number of points required per night, claiming that on all stays for the next 50 weeks, the rates charged in points will either be the same as in 2019, or will be lower.

However, IHG doesn’t accept reservations for stays more than 50 weeks in advance.

This currently makes it impossible to observe the full impact of the program’s new dynamic rates, which will be seen on stays from June 2021, as aren’t yet open for booking.

On the one hand, there’s short-term certainty for members with existing points balances – allowing them to book stays over the coming year without a surprise increase in the number of points required – but come June 2021, reward rates will become more unpredictable, as is the nature of dynamic pricing.

Reward night changes in Australia

Over the coming year, Australian IHG Rewards Club members may be able to snap up a bargain using their points, with the program’s rates either staying the same or decreasing, ahead of some rates “flexing up” for stays from June 2021.

For example, an overnight stay at the InterContinental Sydney hotel previously cost 65,000 points per night year-round, as a Category 12 hotel in the IHG Rewards Club scheme.

Now, an overnight stay costs between 35,000 and 65,000 points per night depending on the dates – but of course, members should also expect to pay more than 65,000 points per night on popular dates from June 2021, when the full nature of dynamic reward pricing takes effect.

Similarly in Victoria, the InterContinental Melbourne could previously be booked for a flat 60,000 points per night, but over the next 50 weeks, rates are between 30,000 and 60,000 points per night.

Over time, dynamic pricing allows hotels to progressively increase the number of points needed to book a stay without giving any prior notice to members, in the same way that ‘dynamic’ frequent flyer programs such as United MileagePlus can change reward rates at any time.

This is why travellers should never buy hotel loyalty points in bulk – even with a significant bonus or discount attached – without having a specific plan to use those points, as their 'value' can change in an instant.

Also read: Here's why you shouldn't buy hotel loyalty points right now

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

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