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Do you remember when Starwood Preferred Guest’s Moments programme was fairly unique? Now it seems like every hotel chain now offers some opportunity to exchange your hotel points for “priceless” experiences. It is definitely worth paying attention as a travel hacker, since you can often find real bargains for experience packages that include a night or two at a luxury hotel you might not otherwise consider. Joe recently wrote about Marriott Moments for example.
Last week, I received an email from IHG Rewards Club, announcing their copycat version of Moments; they are calling it IHG Rewards Club Access. I was a bit bored this week and decided to click through, only to see packages like this:
Now… I like Depeche Mode, although I liked them substantially more during the 80s and 90s. But somebody is willing to pay 280,000 IHG points for 4 tickets to a concert in New York. No luxury box, no special VIP meet and greet, just tickets to the gig. At a relatively undemanding valuation of 0.5 US cents per IHG point, that works out to $1,400 for the 4 tickets – £1,000 or £250 per ticket.
Now, if I really really want to invite 3 of my childhood friends to enjoy the silence, I could just go buy some tickets on any of the ticket resale websites.
For seats in the exact same section as those offered by IHG, I could spend £125+ per ticket. And, naturally, I could buy tickets in a more distant section and pay far less.
So, our IHG Access bidder is paying twice as much than they really need to, simply because they have a bunch of points they don’t know how to value properly… Perhaps he or she has millions of points from business travel and just doesn’t care, which is fair enough.
But if you’ve ever wondered why every hotel chain is implementing a similar “experiences” programme, this example shows why. Somebody would rather have 4 concert tickets than 4 nights at any of IHG’s most luxurious properties. Since it surely costs IHG no more than face value to buy a block of concert tickets, this is a guaranteed moneymaker.
Have you ever spent your hotel points on an over-priced “experience”? Or do you share my mantra of hotel points for hotel stays? (with an asterix for Starpoint –> airline conversions)