Wyndham New Program Starts May 11: Drops Price of Award Nights By As Much As 70%

It seems like hotel programs have been incentivizing booking low end hotels — keeping those cheap, making the points cost even cheaper than before — while pricing top end awards astronomically. We’ve seen massive ‘category creep’ at Marriott. Two years ago Hilton increased the price of their top awards as much as 90%. Hyatt created a new category 7 with higher prices for their most expensive properties.

Wyndham is going the opposite direction. They are creating a single award chart price of 15,000 points per night. That’s an increase for the cheapest hotels, and a decrease for the most expensive hotels.


    Wyndham Grand Rio Mar, Puerto Rico

Here’s the current Wyndham award chart:

There’s only going to be one award category going forward: 15,000 points.

The other key changes they’re talking about now:

  • Minimum earning. You earn 10 points per dollar spent, but there will be a minimum 1000 points earned per stay.
  • Cash and points awards. These are capacity controlled and will 3000 points plus a variable amount of cash that hasn’t been released yet.

Like most programs, Wyndham devalued at the beginning of 2013. Some properties went up by as much as 87.5%. After prodding they put together a list of hotels changing prices. Not one to give advance notice to members, they pulled a similar trick last year. (They also cut the value of points transfers to miles in half with no notice.)

It’s interesting to seem them reversing course. The most expensive properties drop from 50,000 points down to 15,000 points per night, while maintaining last standard room availability. That’s huge.

Here’s another way to look at it: They’re:

  1. reversing course on the price increases of the past two years for the top end hotels
  2. nearly tripling the price of the least expensive hotels.

See, up until January 2013 most Wyndham properties could be had for 16,000 points. The advent of these 30,000 and 50,000 point rooms is actually new.

And it must not have worked well for Wyndham Rewards. When you make rewards unattainable for members the program loses its power.

As I advised last May,

Hotel programs can serve their chains well by giving members something to strive for and not pricing them so outrageously that redemptions aren’t realistic goals.

Wyndham is a large chain, with properties clustered at the lower end. They’re closer in size to Hilton, Marriott, and IHG than they are to Hyatt and Starwood. There are a limited number of top-end properties where this change will be of benefit, but for those it looks like a real win — while it won’t be much of a win for those who look for points to use at Baymont Inns and Days Inn properties.

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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Comments

  1. A bold move, although Wyndham has disproportionately few high end properties relative to the other chains. I’d still like to see Hilton, Marriott, and IHG simplify their charts slightly: maybe Hilton can go by brand, such that all Hampton Inns are 10k points, all Garden Inns are 20k, all DoubleTrees are 30k, etc.

  2. Awesome. This’ll be great for the next time I need to stay at an absolutely disgusting hotel.

  3. This is a program that lost all must trust in 2013. Not sure I’m ready to jump back in. They are the Amtrak of hotel programs.

  4. I guess the unanswered for me is… should get their credit card or transfer some points in? Based on this what do you think the cash value of a Wyndham point will be May 11?

  5. This is a devaluation though; The best use of Wyndham has been around NASCAR races. $59 rooms near the rural tracks at Super 8s and Travelodges often approach $400 for race weekend. 5500 points is a bargain and a half. 15000 – still a bargain, but I guess not quite as much so.

  6. What the hell. This is liking making domestic coach and int’l first class at the same rate. The nice ones will be totally out of reach.

  7. Gary: It is too soon to tell how many hotels are going to participate. According to the T&C information that has been posted:

    https://www.wyndhamrewards.com/trec/consumer/special.action?partner=programFaqs&variant=

    A Wyndham property has to choose to decide to participate in the “go Free” program. They mention this a number of times in their details.

    With that being said, I am not sure they are eliminating other tiers. They said they are introducing new earning and redemption options. I have a feeling the higher end properties will NOT participate.

    For example, the info provided so far for this program states the Go Free option lets you redeem it for 15K at participating properties for a standard room…

    They have properties, such as Koloa Landing in Kauai, which is only a one bedroom and above property. They used to charge 30K for one night. Then they raised it to 50K with no notice. I spoke to management and they stated they weren’t getting enough money from Wyndham to justify 30K since their rooms run a lot more. So up it went to 50K. If the terms are correct, then this hotel would not qualify because it does not offer a “standard room”. It could…but I doubt it.

    So I am not sure they are eliminating their chart and making all rooms 15K per night. What about hotels that do not participate? Does that mean they can’t be booked on points?

    I personally think Wyndham put out this press release and everyone jumped on it talking about all rooms at 15K. But then the webpage I posted seems to talk about those “participating”.

    I might be wrong (and I hope I am) but I think it would be wise to share with readers the fact that Wyndham has made it clear that only those hotels that participate will qualify. Then May 11 we will see the true details..

  8. All depends what hotels you’re going to stay at. As you say, Wyndham has mostly lower end properties, and for those this will mostly be an increase. Those “8 free nights” adds for their 45,000 point credit card ads will have to change…

  9. @Kelly S –

    “Our go free award will replace our Free Night Stay program. The go free award will allow you to redeem 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points for one free night at any of our participating hotels worldwide..”

    Now, I guess this could mean that we’re replacing our current award charts with this new 15,000 point a night rate [and creating a separate award program we aren’t telling you about now]. If that were true it would be even more dishonest than things Wyndham has done in the past..

  10. I was able to get a hold of a supervisor at Wyndham Rewards. She confirmed to me that all hotels that fall under “Wyndham” will be 15K. I asked specifically about hotels like Koloa Landing (which went from 30K to 50k) and she said under new program they would be 15k.

    She did tell me that the reason they went from 30K to 50K was because hotel management felt they could demand a high cost per night and they pushed them to create a whole new tier at 50K.

    She said now they have to go to 15K as they are part of Wyndham and will fall under the new program.

    She did tell me a little about “grandfathering” people into the old program who recently apply for the credit card. Because they advertise it as up to 5 or 8 nights free (depending on offer) then they are looking to let new credit card customers stay under the old program for a year. So they can book that Super 8 for 5500 pts or they can use the new program to book a nicer hotel for 15K. But they are working out an option for them to be able to use those points as advertised if they sign up before May 11th…

    But all this is just coming from a supervisor. And I have learned from past experience that they don’t always have the right info! But this supervisor was beyond nice and very helpful!

  11. Wyndham’s are dumps. And trust me: I’m not a high-end Vendoming kind of traveler. I love budget hotels, and don’t require 5-star-level accommodations when I travel.

    But, Wyndham has let most of their properties go to hell. They are terrible.

    Pass.

  12. Most of their properties aren’t worth 15,000 points. The Days Inn in Pittsburgh could not give me 15,000 points to stay there.

  13. On a vacation trip through UT,ID,MT and WY I noticed that the big chain hotels were nowhere to be found in the smaller towns. Wyndham & Choice properties were everywhere.
    This meant that I had to travel to the larger cities if I wanted to use my points for free stays at Hiltons, Marriott etc…properties, which I did. After this vacation I evaluated the holes in my hotel point accumulation and decided that my next surge of credit card signups for my wife and I would be with Wyndham and Choice.
    Eight months and 2 churns later, we were both sitting on 90K Wyndham points and 60K Choice points which will go a long way on our next vacation through AZ, UT and CO.
    True, Wyndham isn’t the most desirable chain but we survived quite comfortably I might add on the 2 occasions we have stayed at their properties. They were actually better than some of the reviews and all we needed was a place to sleep.
    With this announcement and my quest to travel at no cost, Wyndham has become a more valuable asset in my arsenal of points and miles.

  14. Well, let’s see about the details once the changes roll out.

    Roadside America has a lot of Super 8, Days Inns, etc., and I cannot imagine using 15000 points for these properties. A shame, really, as you can get some decent values now on road trips in some decent properties (not everything need be upscale and aspirational – especially where none exist). Perhaps the points + cash option will be viable for these … if the cash outlay is really low.

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