Why Hotel Programs Devalued This Year — and Why They May Not Be Done

Hotel programs got super generous during the Great Recession. Hyatt — the lone major program not to significantly devalue its points in the first quarter of 2013 — was so generous in the fall of 2009 that they were giving away a free night at any hotel in the world after any two stays plus 5500 United miles. Two $75 airport hotel nights could earn a night at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris plus 11,000 miles.

Other programs were generous as well, free nights in addition to points became common.

The programs were trying to goose occupancy when rooms were empty. But hotels are now full and rates are up, so there’s no reason to spend as lavishly.

Via Calculated Risk:

The red line is for 2013, yellow is for 2012, blue is “normal” and black is for 2009

This one chart tells the story. 2012 was more or less a return to normal. Hotel chains were forecasting that the trend would continue n 2013, and so far it has.


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. BUT – I did just get a targeted promo from Hilton through AA, offering new hhonors members gold status through 12/31/2013, and, with 5 stays by the end of 2013, hhonors gold through March 2015 and 25k AAdvantage miles. So they certainly seem to want to add a few new elites to their ranks!

  2. The programs are devaluing because there are more paying customers now, business and leisure travel have picked up.

    When times were tough, the programs were more generous because rooms were empty. Better to have someone in a room at a cheap or free rate and get them to spend money at the restaurant, room service, etc vs no money and an empty room.

  3. Generally true for the airlines as well, isn’t it? And as miles become easier to earn (the ever expanding range of credit card bonuses) devaluation marches right along. Perhaps the greatest difference these days is the ever-increasing power of the computers and the sophistication of big data analysis: fine-tuning can easily be done overnight!

  4. Well, we can predict the next two to fall – Hyatt and Carlson.

    Carlson is giving away points suspiciously like Hilton did before their massive devaluation this year. Going to be a lot of “surprised” and “angry” folks when the chit hits the fan.

    Hyatt is sure to add new categories/increase points to redeem on the top end.

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