It's a long winter break this year and so I've been running through my summer holiday plans and doing some sums. As I looked at my itinerary which includes stays in various hotels in very different markets around North America I felt this would be a good opportunity to test the earn/burn rates of the various schemes. I was a member of HH for several years, am very active at Marriott and am still a member of IHG. My In-Laws were members of SPG, and a little research brought me up to date on that scheme.
I am spending 4 weeks in North America visiting relatives and on a ROADTRIP with the kids. We will be staying in the Oakville, ON region visiting relatives using 1 room only as our kids will stay with the relatives, then it's off to Ottawa, Ausable (camping), NYC, DC, Harrisburg (for Hershey park), and then to Niagara (with a 1-night rest stop near the border). After Niagara we return for 7 nights in the Oakville area.
There are some musts:
1. Ottawa -2 nights, has to be central... 3 rooms
2. NYC - 3 nights, can be a cheap night before to get cheap parking, due to travelling down, but at least 2 nights must be at Times Square. Times Sq can be just 2 rooms.
3. DC - 2 nights must be central... Can be just 2 rooms.
4. Harrisburg - 3 nights, need not be central but max 20-min drive to Hershey, 3 rooms
5. The one night stop-off should be cheap points, near Buffalo, 3 rooms
6. Niagara - 2 nights must be Fallsview, can be just 2 rooms.
7. Oakville/Mississauga, 4 nights at beginning then 7 nights at end, 1 room.
I recognise that no hotel group can do it all and so have a budget to pay up to $1000 to get exactly what I need, inc booking with another hotel if the group I'm using isn't in that area or to get a specific room. I'm booking a total of circa 40/45 room nights.
For the purposes of financial reconciliation on points earn/burn I am assuming top elite status in all programs so:
Hilton Diamond - base 10/$ + diamond 50% + doubledip = 20pts/$
IHG Plat - base 10/$ + platinum 50% = 15pts/$
Marriott Plat - base 10/$ + platinum 50% = 15pts/$
SPG Plat75 - base 2/$ + plat75 100% = 4pts/$
All the groups run pointearning promotions over the year, Hilton and SPG tend to be double base points type promos, Marriott and IHG tend to be "Stay X, Get Y" and since IHG ended its policy of stacking promos theirs are only slightly better than Marriott now. For HH and SPG I will double their base elements of earnings, for Marriott and IHG these tend to add near double the Plat bonuses. This adds 10pts/$ for Hilton, 8pts/$ for IHG, 7pts/$ for Marriott and 2pts/$ for SPG. Finally all groups give welcome point bonuses of 500 points at full service hotels, except HH which is 1000. I'd say that adds 2pts/$ value to IHG/MR/SPG and 4pts/$ value to Hilton. Adjusting for these we get earnings of:
Hilton Diamond - 34pts/$
IHG Plat - 25pts/$
Marriott Plat - 24pts/$
SPG Plat75 - 8pts/$
Lastly, the effect of TAX, as its included in worldwide pricing (exc NA) and my stats are normally outside NA, I've included it in redemption values as I always do. Hence I need to deduct its non-earning effect. This is quite capricious, but I'm going to deduct 15% from the gross to represent an average tax situation...
So now we get net earnings per $ of:-
Hilton Diamond - 29pts/$
IHG Plat - 21pts/$
Marriott Plat - 20pts/$
SPG Plat75 - 7pts/$
So $50,000 of gross spending at each group garners the following points:
Now to my stays over the vacation:
Oakville HWS 40,000/nt $1400... 160k
Ottawa has no central Hilton so online Arc Hotel, $800
NYC Secaucus Hilton 40,000/nt $500... 120k
NYC Hilton TSq 70,000/nt $1300... 280k
DC Hilton 60,000/nt $1000... 240k
Harrisburg Hilton 30,000/nt $1700... 270k
Buffalo Hampton 30,000/nt $600... 90k
Niagara Hilton 80,000/nt Fallsview suite $700... 160k
Oakville HWS 40,000/nt $1200... 240k
Total HH pts 1,560,000 (which takes $54,000 of spending to earn)
Redemption value $8,400
HH EARN/BURN... 16%
Oakville HI 15,000/nt $800... 60k
Ottawa Indigo 30,000/nt $2000... 180k
NYC Secaucus HI 20,000/nt $700... 60k
NYC Intercontinental TSq 50,000/nt $1500... 200k
DC HI White Hse 35,000/nt $1000... 140k
Harrisburg HI East 15,000/nt $1700... 135k
Buffalo HIX 25,000/nt $500... 75k
Niagara CP, Fallsview Suite $800
Oakville HI 15,000/nt $1200... 105k
Total IHG pts 955,000 (which takes $45,000 of spending to earn)
Redemption value $9400
IHG EARN-BURN 21%
Oakville FFI 10,000/nt $800... 40k
Ottawa Marriott 20,000/nt $1700... 120k
NYC Secaucus CY 20,000/nt $600... 60k
NYC Marquis TSq 45,000/nt $2000... 180k
DC Ren Mayflower 35,000/nt $1600... 140k
Harrisburg CY 20,000/nt $1900... 180k
Buffalo TPS 15,000/nt $500... 45k
Niagara Marriott, Fallsview Suite for 6, $800
Oakville FFI 10,000/nt $1200... 60k
Total MR pts 825,000 (which takes $41,000 of spending to earn)
Redemption value $10300
MR EARN/BURN 25%
Mississauga 4Points 3500/nt $1000... 14k
Ottawa Sheraton 10,000/nt $1900... 60k
NYC Element 10,000/nt $500... 30k
NYC T/Sq Sheraton 20,000/nt $1500... 80k
DC Westin 12,000/nt $1500... 48k
Harrisburg Sheraton 7,000/nt $2200... 63k
Buffalo Aloft 7,000/nt $500... 21k
Niagara Sheraton, Fallsview Suite for 6, $800
Mississauga 4points 3,500/nt $1400... 21k
Total SPG pts 337,000 ( which takes $48,000 of spending to earn)
Redemption value $10,600
SPG EARN/BURN 22%
1st... MR earn/burn 25% (825,000 pts cost $41k, redeemed $10,300)
2nd... SPG earn/burn 22% (337,000 pts cost $48k, redeemed $10,800)
3rd... IHG earn/burn 21% (940,000 pts cost $45k, redeemed $9,500)
4th... HH earn/burn 16% (1,660,000 pts cost $55k, redeemed $8,300)
Finally, as each hotel in each group is using erc's matrix pricing differently to maximise their REVpar this can distort redemption values, though I suspect less likely in this case as several hotels are being used for different numbers and types of rooms. Even so the last exercise is to flatten out those price distortions and average the prices due across all the groups, which gives an average cost for the holiday of $9,700. Since redeeming points is static, the points used remains the same as does the spending necessary to earn the points. This new methodogy gives an earn burn of:
1st... MR 24% ($41,000 of spending for the vacation)
2nd... IHG 21% ($45,000 of spending for the vacation)
3rd... SPG 20% ($48,000 of spending for the vacation)
4th... HH 18% ($55,000 of spending for the vacation)
Ouch, my post is hard on the eyes. It was all properly spaced and paragraphed when I copied it through but now it's all crammed together, and I don't know why. I can't find a way to edit my original posting, does anyone know how.... Done it, worked it out... Woohoo, it's a lot easier to read now!
I think that's right, once you've crawled your way to Gold in one scheme it will seem like a real drop to be bottom of the ladder in another, but once you get into this you find out about status matching and the different fast tracks to status making that swift far less painful.
In reality, the outcomes of this didn't really surprise me. I noticed after switching from Hilton to Marriott 8 years ago that whilst the points accumulated more slowly they reached room redemption levels more quickly. I joined IHG as it offered point-stacking possibilities and accumulated vast points very quickly from cheap stays using loads of once-only codes. IHG points however generally redeem for lesser quality hotels. Starwood was a surprise, most blogs comparing Starwood to the rest put it flat flat bottom behind in earn/burn, but once you take into account the SPG arrival bonus points, which whilst the same number as for IHG and Marriott represent in % uplift a much bigger extra and their 100% bonus for a 75-night Plat it did shockingly well! The fact that Hilton turned out bottom didn't surprise me, not for nothing are they called HiltonPesos!
Marriott however has the best balance and that why I stay with them...
Fine work Bob!..... You may want to consider the Fairfield Inn located in Hershey, PA. The location can't be beat for visiting Hershey Park. It's almost brand new so the physical plant is in great shape. I've stayed twice off season and the staff is well trained and professional. The street lamp covers are quite a sight.
Thanks for that, pained...
WE are only planning 1 day of our 3 night stay at Hershey. We plan to leave DC early evening, hence check-in at Harrisburg will be late. After so much big-city action in NYC and DC we'll just relax the next day, and after the 2nd night visit Hershey. Hence we really want somewhere relatively close to both Harrisburg and Hershey.
brightlybob - with all these statistics, I thought it was one of my posts! LOL
These numbers seem quite close to calculations I have done in the past as I came to the same conclusion that MR earns/burns at the best ratio of the major rewards players (some of those analysis are posted on MRI).
The "hidden" value in some of the other programs that MR does not have is the ability to guarantee a suite on points (which I have hammered on MRI until I am blue in the face). This is why I have put 98% of my stays since 2012 with HH as they have the suite on points program. Hyatt is one of the lowest earn/burn but also guarantees their diamond members four suites a year and suites on points.
In the big schema - I should be doing the MR route to earn points at the highest margins but suites on points are so important to me for family vacations that I choose to give my business elsewhere but would return in a flash to MR should such a program be instituted.
Thanks so much for that, pingreeman, the detail of your analysis concerning point values over so many posts makes that a real compliment...
I do agree that the inability to book anything other than standard rooms on reward stays is a weakness, particularly somehwere like Niagara Falls when most will want a Fallsview room but Marriotts most loyal members on points must go without. In reality, the scheme does have the answer, upgrade certs at 5k or small cash amounts per night per upgrade level. I've used this before in Monaco to redeem for a Marina view room, rather than find myself locked out due to lack of upgrade availability on arrival. The problem here is that these upgrade offers, pretty rare 5 years ago now seem non-existent, I can't remember the last time I checked for a redemption and was offered a variety of rooms. Maybe if the hotels won't offer it voluntarily then Marriott needs to consider mandating it, but that's not easy.
As you say both Hyatt via its annual allocation of certs and Hilton via its premium room redemption option do provide that opportunity and though I rarely need it, it's annoying it's no longer around at Marriott. Mind you, we do need to be mindful of what we wish for, there's lots of complaints over at FT of HH hotels gaming the system and offering only ludicrously expensive "premium" redemptions!
As you wil note from my post, it was necessary to introduce a cash element into the budget to cover gaps. Since Starwood, IHG and Marriott do not have effective room upgrade redemption options, I've used the cash to cover Fallsview rooms at Niagara Falls for all of them. Ironically, although I was able to redeem for an upgraded Fallsview room at Hilton, their lack of a city centre property in Ottawa(!)... Yes really, Ottawa, meant I had to spend money at a different hotel to gain a central position. In the end I had to spend $800 to complete the itinerary for all the groups.
Lastly, I didn't include Hyatt because in reality, for most it's just too small as a stand alone group to accumulate the kinds of points necessary to carry out this kind of redemption...