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John over at LoyaltyLobby noticed a couple of weeks ago that IHG Rewards Club had started using variable award pricing (i.e charging different amounts of points for different dates) at a number of hotels in China.
IHG has now confirmed things and explained that the new policy will be expanded beyond Greater China this year:
“On 23 April, IHG® Rewards Club began introducing Reward Night redemption flexibility to a select number of hotels in Greater China. This program will roll out more widely through the course of the year as appropriate.
With this program update, the amount of points required for members to redeem a Reward Night will now flex up and down, just like cash rates for room bookings.
This new way for members to make the most of their points complements the existing IHG Rewards Club benefits our members enjoy at more than 5,900 IHG Hotels & Resorts around the world, including exclusive member rates, no blackout dates for Reward Nights, and free Wi-Fi—making every stay as rewarding as possible.
Announced last year, we are taking a measured approach to introducing Reward Night price flexibility so that when our members are ready to travel again, they’ll be able to enjoy the benefits.”
These sort of changes are rarely good news for ‘travel hackers’ because most savvy travellers would normally use cash when cash rates are low and points when cash rates are high. Dynamic pricing means that the opportunity to get truly spectacular value from points is diminished – but certainly not eliminated altogether.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on how the new pricing develops over the coming months – let us know in the comments if you spot anything interesting!