What happens when you collect more than 50,000 data points on hotel prices and award inventory? For me the answer is data mining. And thanks to the information gathered by all of you searching on the Hotel Hustle site I’ve got a whole lot of data to sift through. Rather than guess what hotel points should be worth based on personal experience or searches biased by my travel patterns I’m using the larger volume of data I’ve got to calculate what I believe are better numbers. And I’m publishing it all, too.
Here’s what the data looks like visualized with a high, low and average point marked.
As you can see in the graph the range for some programs varies dramatically while other programs are a bit more confined. Looking at the data in table form also shows some interesting bits when it comes to minimum and maximum values.
Hilton HHonors gets a lot of hate, particularly following the recent devaluations, and the average value of the HHonors points remains pretty low (0.461 cents; second worst in the data sample). But it is not the worst redemption value found by your searches. That title is held by a Marriott Rewards room, though the cash rate on that one is particularly low ($50/night) which skews the numbers. Hilton does maintain the title of worst max value redemption; it is the only program where there is not an award over 3 cents/point value.
The maximum and minimum numbers may be slightly skewed by outlier data; I get that. But the average numbers are really where I like to focus. And it is quite interesting to see the variation within the hotels. There are essentially three tiers of points:
- Club Carlson & Hilton range between 0.431-0.462 cents per point
- Choice, IHG, Marriott & Wyndham are in the 0.612-0.721 range, roughly 50% more valuable than the first tier
- Hyatt and Starwood round out the set at 1.69-1.966 cents per point, more than double the mid-range properties and roughly 4x the bottom tier
So, does that mean Hyatt and Starwood are always going to be the best points to have for hotel redemptions? Probably not. Those two programs are also rather harder to earn points with, either via credit cards or by booking a room night. Hilton guests earn 10-15 points per dollar spent at most hotels and 2-3 points per dollar on most credit card spend (excluding category bonuses and looking at the fee-free cards). Hyatt only earns at 5 points per dollar at the property and one point per dollar with the credit card. And that card also carriers an annual fee. Earning at 3x the rate makes the 0.462 cent value of an HHonors point a lot closer to the 1.69 cent value of a Gold Passport point than it seems it might otherwise be. Add in the fact that far more places in the world have Hilton options and there could be a case made for HHonors points being on part with Gold Passport points, even though the redemption value per point looks quite skewed.
Then again, if aspirational, luxury redemptions are the goal then HHonors craps out with the low maximum point value number.
I’m hoping to add more details about average point values and even average property values. That requires both more time to do the analysis and more data to make sure I’m not just reporting on outliers. But the information has been quite interesting so far and I expect it will continue to be going forward.
What types of reports would you like to see out of this data set??
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