With autumn's arrival, it's time for new hotel promotions. As usual, the major chains are offering incentives to lure you to their properties during your fall travels. None of these offers are particularly innovative but they can offer a solid return on your hotel spend. In a series of four posts, I will cover the promotions from Hilton, Starwood, Marriott and IHG. In today's final entry in the series, I discuss "Accelerate" from IHG Rewards Club.
Fall 2017 hotel promotions
- Hilton - "Double Points"
- Starwood Preferred Guest - "Explore More"
- Marriott Rewards - "MegaBonus"
- IHG Rewards Club - "Accelerate"
IHG Rewards Club's "Accelerate" program is not a new promotion; company has had similar promotions in the past. This iteration of "Accelerate" is active through December 31. As before, once you register for the promotion, you are presented with a variety of activities that you can complete to earn points. Theses tasks and a summary of tasks completed and points earned can be found on your "Accelerate" dashboard found under "My Offer Status" on the lefthand side of your IHG Rewards account.
Each offer is customized; you can see mine below. I have six offers. Two are easy to complete while others are a stretch given my fall travel plans. The international task won't happen since I do not have any international travel planned until next year.
The low-hanging fruit are 2,000 points for completing a single stay and 1,500 points for paying with my IHG Rewards MasterCard. For one of my Georgia Tech football road trips, I am already eyeing a night at a Holiday Inn Express with a rate of $108. If I pay with my IHG credit card, at a per point value of $0.007, the 3,500 bonus points would be worth $24.50, representing a return on spend of 22.7%. Not too shabby. Taking into account all the points I would earn from standard stay points, elite bonuses and credit card spend, the return is even more attractive.
- Earn 10 points per dollar for paid stays
- Earn an additional 5 points per dollar as a Platinum Elite member (by virtue of holding the IHG Rewards MasterCard)
- Earn 5 points for dollar spent at IHG hotels when using the IHG Rewards MasterCard
In total, with the Accelerate bonuses, I could earn 5,660 IHG Rewards points valued at $39.62 or a total return on spend of 36.7% for a one night stay - a fantastic return.
My analysis would be incomplete if I did not ensure that paying with my IHG Rewards MasterCard would be the most beneficial option. By using the card, I would earn 1,500 points from the "Accelerate" task and 540 points on the spend itself for a total value of $14.28. If I did not use my IHG card, I would use my Citi ThankYou Premier Card which offers three ThankYou points per dollar spent on lodging. Using this card I would earn 324 ThankYou Points for a total value of only $4.86 (ThankYou points are worth $0.015 each). Cleary, using my IHG card is the better route.
The remaining three tasks are stretch goals. While fall is my heaviest travel season, this year I have only two overnight road trips totaling four nights. While I may be able to complete these goals, competing hotel chains have attractive bonuses as well. Ultimately, I need to compare these promotions to decide where to stay, but, for now, let's take a look at whether these remaining tasks are attractive enough to consider completing.
The biggest stretch is the opportunity to earn 10,000 points for staying with IHG five times. Unless I take an unplanned trip, I won't have five hotel stays while this promotion is active so achieving this bonus is unlikely. This bonus would be worth $70.00 so if I achieve four IHG stays and take an unplanned trip, the incremental value of a fifth would be attractive.
Next, by booking two Bonus Point Packages, I could earn 6,600 points. I have previously booked these packages, which bundle additional IHG Rewards points for each night, and the rate premium is generally not too bad. In the case of my possible $108 room, a Bonus Points Package including 1,000 additional points, would cost only $109.98! This is equates to buying points at $0.002 each, a 71% discount to their value. That's an absolute no brainer! If I could find a second night with similar pricing, including the low-hanging fruit bonuses, standard stay points and the Bonus Points Package, I could earn 16,420 IHG Reward points with a value of $114.94! Against a total of $219.96 for two nights, that represents a return on spend of 52%! If I were able to use those points for PointBreaks stays which require only 5,000 points per night, I could get five nights for the price of two! This will absolutely encourage me to look for IHG properties for my fall travels! And that is the point of promotions, after all, right?
The remaining stretch goal is a sizable 19,200 points for trying three IHG brands. Three nights would require 75% of my planned stays this fall, but, at a value of $134,40, this reward is very enticing if there are convenient locations for various brands on my trips. Luckily, since I will be staying somewhere between Atlanta and the cities where Georgia Tech is playing, I will have some flexibility on where to spend my nights.
My offer includes three achievement bonuses which are pretty sweet kickers if I can earn them. By completing five of the six tasks, I would receive 19,000 additional bonus points. Given that the international task won't be happening, this means I would need to complete all the remaining tasks, so earning this achievement is unlikely. The other two achievement bonuses are for completing stays in October. Since I won't be traveling until next month with little prospect of adding a trip in the next couple of weeks, I won't be earn the 6,000 additional points for staying two nights in October.
I have not been a big fan of previous "Accelerate" promotions. I generally prefer simple points multipliers or a fixed amount of bonus points per night. Perhaps I simply received offers that mesh well with my plans, but I am surprised at just how lucrative the fall 2017 edition of "Accelerate" is. I need to carefully consider the trade-off between the four promotions I have analyzed, but I think I will be searching for IHG hotels as soon as I hit publish on this post!