Last week I introduced Hotel Hustle, a tool for comparing hotel rates – award and cash – across several different brands. Not surprisingly there were a few bugs in the code and many requests to make things better. Or at least a bit different than how I implemented them initially. The first few steps of those changes have now been implemented (with many more to come). Here’s what’s new:
Search by ZIP code
If you’d prefer to specify a search location by ZIP code rather than airport you can do that now. Just start typing the number into the search box and you can go from there.
Note that this is just to specify where the search is centered, not to limit results. I’m still working on a decent way to limit search radius or filter results by location after the list is generated. In the interim zooming in on the map is probably the best bet.
All hotel rates are now displayed in US Dollars. There are a few reasons I did this. One is that several people asked for it. Another is that it makes comparing the point values consistent and given that one of the main reasons I built the tool is to make those comparisons I figure that having a consistent basis for the conversion is a good idea. The conversion rates are updated daily from www.OpenExchangeRates.org and when the published rate is not in USD I’ll do the math to get to that point. Those rates will be displayed with a * next to them to show that they are converted.
Hotel Hustle Hotness
The far right column on the display is now what I’m calling the “Hustle Hotness” factor, though I think that name might be a bit too cheesy and need to change. Looking at the Cents per Point (cpp) calculation is interesting, but it doesn’t really take into consideration that different programs’ points are generally worth different amounts. The Hustle Hotness factor aims to help with such comparisons. The idea is to not just find a good cpp value but to get an award night where the value of the points as redeemed exceeds the nominal value of those points as much as possible. So I’ve come up with a system which looks at what the points are worth (more on that in a sec) and then compares that to what the redemption value is. If you can beat the theoretical value by 45% I call that damn good deal (5 stars in the system). At the same time, if you’re only getting 55% of the theoretical value when redeeming that’s probably not such a great thing (one star). Between 85% and 115% is a 3 star rating.
As you can see in the example below, a 1.29 cpp value from IHG scores higher than 2.6 cpp in the SPG program. Up to you whether you think that’s actually true or not…keep reading.
Currently I’m using following values:
- Club Carlson: 0.6 cents
- IHG Rewards Club: 0.7 cents
- Marriot Rewards: 0.7 cents
- Starwood Preferred Guest: 2.2 cents
- Wyndham rewards: 0.65 cents
I didn’t just pick those numbers out of a hat. I reviewed a number of other expert sources and combined their analysis into an aggregate pool of information and chose the values based on that. But I also realize that many of you have your own numbers. I’m ready for that, too.
I’ve built in the code to be able to calculate the Hustle Hotness factor based either on the default “expert” valuations or based on your personal numbers. Alas, I do not yet have the UI built to allow you to enter the values but I promise that is coming soon. But all the other code, including the database and the calculations is ready for it.
I know that adding Hyatt and Hilton to the tool are high up on the list. Filtering based on price, too. And including Cash & Points awards where the chains offer them. I’ve got those things on my to do list and I’m pushing through them as best I can.
What else do you want to see in this tool?
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