Radisson Rewards Changes – It’s Not As Bad As It May Seem
Radisson Hotels Americas (I’m still getting used to saying that) has just unveiled what they call a “simplification” of their Radisson Rewards loyalty program starting in mid June. When I hear “simplification”, I also hear “changes”, which I safely assume involves a devaluation. Indeed, a devaluation is happening, but I suggest no one redeem for gift cards just yet. In my opinion, the devaluation isn’t a huge deal. More on that later – let’s first go over the upcoming Radisson Rewards changes.
Free Night Award Charts – Current and Upcoming
Let’s first refresh on Radisson Rewards free nights. Here’s the current award chart:
Here’s the new chart, effective mid June:
Radisson is definitely simplifying on the category front, going from seven to five categories. I appreciate the new chart’s improved congruence, with each category equally 15k points apart. That’s all nice; I’ll add more context to this chart update in a bit. Let’s now get into the other changes.
Additional Radisson Rewards Changes
Radisson also announced the following:
- The number of hotels available at 15,000 points will double
- Over 40% of hotels will require fewer points to book an Award Night stay
- You’ll have the opportunity to redeem an Award Night for fewer points with RewardSaver.
- These members-only deals can happen anytime, anywhere.
- You’ll save 33% of the points on all RewardSaver bookings.
- These deals will never be seasonal or dependent on pre-determined peak and off-peak rates
My Initial Take
Devaluations happen with all programs. Companies’ marketing teams do their best to spin these changes – they’re paid to put that lipstick on the pig. Please keep those items in mind as we proceed.
With this update, consumers are in the unenviable position of adjusting to certain properties going down a category but also requiring more points for a free night. Category down, point price up. That may seem sneaky, slimy, uncool, whatever, but we’re adults with developed brains. We can figure this stuff out. Get over it, adapt, and overcome.
Lower- and Mid-Category Fun
To make things simpler, I look past the categories and simply focus on the points required for a free night. With this change, the category one floor for point redemptions increases from 9k to 15k per night. This isn’t a big deal. Why? There are only seven category one properties currently. Taking it a step further, there are 45 category two properties currently, which cost 15k points per night. Radisson also states “the number of hotels available at 15,000 points will double.” Putting this all together, there will be a few category one properties devaluing, but a much larger number of hotels will come down from 28k points per night (or higher) in order to double the amount of 15k properties. Some rough arithmetic:
- 45 properties are in the 15k point per night category currently
- According to Radisson, 90 properties (double of the current) will be 15k per night after the updates
- 7 are currently category one (9k) and will move to the 15k level
- 45+7 = 52 properties. 90-52= 38 properties from the current 28k points per night category (or higher) will move down to 15k points per night.
For certain individuals, this may actually be an improvement to the program, not a devaluation.
The new RewardSaver program definitely caught my eye, as well. The potential savings are another improvement depending on the properties selected and one’s flexibility to travel (I have plenty). I won’t have my heart set on any specific hotels for this promotion, but I will definitely take advantage of it if/when I’m able to.
Radisson also touts that 40% of their properties will cost fewer points per night. While I haven’t gotten out my abacus and gone through the list of properties line by line, it seems that the majority of those properties will be in the mid category levels and lower. The higher tier properties will cost more per night on points. This happens with the vast majority, if not all, programs over time. With Radisson, I would say it’s a comparatively minor issue. Here’s why.
“Aspirational Radisson” is Pretty Much an Oxymoron Domestically
Who reading is saving up a ton of points to stay at a Radisson property in a high category? I’m not a big gambler, but I’d say not many. More consumers are saving up other hotel currencies for distinctive and/or luxurious redemptions – Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, maybe even IHG. It seems that those redeeming for the top category Radisson properties will feel the hit the hardest, but that’s a small portion compared to other brands. Just an educated guess on my part, but I feel it holds.
Radisson Remains Largely the Same for Me
Yes, I’m splurging my E-Certs on certain Radisson properties. However, the Radisson program is largely a value program for me. I particularly focusing on the lower and mid level categories, anyway. The devaluation doesn’t seem to be hitting there as much as in the higher categories. Inevitably, I’ll end up paying slightly more points for a night here and there, but it’s not as drastic a devaluation as it may seem.
Radisson Rewards Changes – Conclusion
Radisson has actually gotten more of my attention with these changes, particularly with the new RewardSaver promos. Also, I’m likely to take advantage of properties where Radisson will require fewer points per night (remember, that’s 40% of their hotels). So the updates have worked on me, in that sense. I look forward to seeing how the changes are implemented and getting more experience with this evolution of the Radisson Rewards program. And obviously, the changes could have been much worse.
I encourage each of you to take some time to see how the changes effect you and adapt as necessary. It’s always easier to say, “Another devaluation, and everything sucks.” But better redemptions are sometimes available to those who pay attention to the nuances of programs and not just the initial releases and highlights of changes. What do you think of the Radisson Rewards changes?