Late last month IHG Rewards Club reached out to let me know about a new program they’re launching shortly:
In mid-May, IHG Rewards Club will be launching an exciting new program for members – IHG Rewards Club Auctions. Members will be able to bid on such things as insider sporting events, concerts and unique experiences only they will have access to as IHG Rewards Club members.
They invited me to poke around. Today seems to be the first day of beta testing the site, and there are a few auctions loaded.
A few of them look pretty cool, and depending on the final price others could be fantastic values.
For instance, with a 10,000 point starting big (that I value at ~ $60):
BMW One-Day M School: Spartanburg, SC
Spartanburg, SC Location – Package includes lessons for two (2) people at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC.
M cars represent the zenith of BMW. And at the rightfully titled M School, the unmatched performance of all our M models will hone your skills for an especially spirited driving experience. Get ready to focus on the same skills that professional drivers practice every day. You’ll become smoother, and your reaction times will decrease with sessions in Cornering, Downshift, Drifting, and Timed Laps.
One Day M School retails for $1550.
IHG Rewards Club Auctions has 3 ‘reward levels’
- Aspire “once-in-a-lifetime experiences and lavish nights”
- Indulge “in weekend getaways, VIP access and hospitality”
- Explore “great local events and restaurants”
I expect there to be some fantastic deals at first.
- They’ll usually start with phenomenal offerings. There’s usually a big marketing push and investment at the outset. As a result these sorts of offerings get too much investment at the outset to make them successful, before someone decides the economics aren’t favorable enough to the program and before the folks running them settle into a (more boring) routine.
- Few members are aware of the deals. Fewer bidders mean thin markets and not many people bidding up the price of those great deals.
While my bet is that long-term these don’t turn into a top place to look for bargains, I’ll predict that there will be worthwhile packages where you can get real deals for at least a short period at the outset.
For instance, I don’t especially care about an ‘American Girl Experience’ but it throws in Intercontinental’s Ambassador status which retails for $200 at a starting bid of just 1000 points.
Or for a starting bid of 2500 points there’s Ambassador status and two nights at the Intercontinental Miami.
As with SPG Moments, this is exactly the sort of redemption add-on option I like to see.
As I explained in The Craziest Things You Can Do With Your Miles, and Why You Don’t Want to Do Them travel redemptions are far better than getting your loyalty program to buy you ‘stuff’ because programs have to go out and buy the stuff, their costs to do it are high, and so you’ll always get a poor value for your points.
There are very few exceptions to using airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty points for something other than travel.
Most of those exceptions come under the rubric of ‘life experiences’ — the idea that you can leverage the relationships of a big company to gain access to things you probably couldn’t do on your own.
Don’t use your points for a new LCD toaster. Do consider using your points (when it won’t break the bank) for an up close performance, with just a few other folks, by a world-renowned artist if that’s the kind of thing that interests you. Or go to the Oscars, because without the contacts your bank has when in the world would you ever get to otherwise?