Posted by Ric Garrido

The fifth post in my Loyalty Traveler series comparing the large hotel loyalty programs of Hilton HHonors, IHG Priority Club and Marriott Rewards is a case study of hotel rates and reward redemption opportunities in Paris, France for a stay in March 2012.

Prior posts have discussed the earning rate for hotel points with stays in each of the hotel brands (links to other posts in this series are at end of this post). The rate points are earned is only one factor for earning loyalty points. Limited time promotions for earning bonus points and bonus points for partner activities are other factors on the earning side of the equation.

The cost of hotel rewards in each of the three hotel loyalty programs must be compared to the rate of earning to determine if any program has a competitive advantage in one way or another for Hilton HHonors, Marriott Rewards and IHG Priority Club.

Paris, France Hotel Reward Search for March 16-20, 2012

Assume the dates are set in stone for a four night Paris trip. Here are the options in the big chains of Hilton, IHG and Marriott where you can burn your points.

Hilton (2 hotels)

  • Hilton Arc de Triomphe is 285EUR prepaid (US$371) or 330EUR BAR (US$430) or 59,695 points per night as Premium Room Reward. Redemption rate is $6.21 to $7.20 per 1,000 points for two queen beds. HHonors category 7 = 50,000 points per night. Tripadvisor.com hotel rank = #107 of 1,848 hotels.
  • Hilton Paris La Defense  is 475EUR prepaid (US$619) or 535EUR BAR (US$697) or 96,778 points per night for the 750 sq. ft. Presidential Suite on a Premium Room Reward. Redemption rate is $6.38 to $7.19 per 1,000 points. This is a decent redemption rate for HHonors points. HHonors category 6 = 40,000 points per night.

This is an example of the impact Premium Room Rewards have had on the value of Hilton HHonors points. These two hotels have no rooms available as standard rewards at 50,000 points for a Category-7 hotel and Hilton La Defense is more than double the 40,000 points per night rate as a Premium Room Reward. But staying in a Presidential Suite does sound nice – if you have 400,000 points.

Hilton HHonors offers elite members a 15% discount with 4-night extended stay rewards. Rather than 200,000 points for a four night stay, the VIP reward rate is 170,000 points for Hilton Arc de Triomphe – if there were standard room reward availability. As it is, this stay will cost 240,000 points for four nights.

 

IHG Priority Club

The advantage of Priority Club is the large number of hotels in central Paris including two InterContinental Hotels, one Crowne Plaza, and ten more Holiday Inn properties within three miles of city center.

A check of TripAdvisor.com, FlyerTalk and MilePoint to read hotel reviews gives better insight to hotels after checking rates and reward options. Great redemption rate offers little comfort if crowdsourced reviews are generally unfavorable to the hotel.

There are 1,848 hotels listed for Paris on TripAdvisor.com. I listed the TripAdvisor.com hotel ratings beside each of the properties. The closer the rank is to #1, the better. The highest ranked IHG hotel is the Holiday Inn Express at #251 closely followed by InterContinental Le Grand at #269.

Those results make checking FlyerTalk reviews imperative for more information.

IHG in Paris

Points & Cash reward nights are available at every Priority Club hotel offering standard reward nights.

The redemption value for points is abbreviated as RV and based on 1,000 points. Points & Cash rewards sell Priority Club points at rate of $6.00 per 1,000 points.

  • InterContinental Paris Le Grand – 305 EUR = $US397 or 50,000 points or 40,000 points + US$60. TripAdvisor Rank #269.
  • (This hotel is actually still available for booking at 40,000 points until March 18, but I use the new rates for this analysis to compare the published rates for each hotel program).
  • 305Euro = US$397/night. Redemption value = $7.94 per 1,000 points. The redemption rate is over $6 per 1,000 points. This makes the Points & Cash option an opportunity to buy points for $6/1,000 and redeem for over $8/1,000 points. This is a good stay to use a Cash & Points reward for $8.43 redemption value.
  • InterContinental Paris – Avenue Marceau – 306.50 EUR = US$399 or 50,000 points (RV = $8.00/1,000 points) or 40,000 + $60 (RV=$8.48). TripAdvisor Rank #424.
  • Crowne Plaza Paris Republique – 154.25 EUR = US$201 or 35,000 points (RV = $5.74) = or 25,000 points + $60 (RV = $5.64). TripAdvisor Rank #552. This hotel increased 40% in reward cost with the change from 25 to 35K. The reward redemption value is low at 35,000 points standard reward cost for this $200 room rate.
  • Holiday Inn Paris – Notre Dame 180EUR = US$234. No Reward Rooms Available (25,000 points).
  • Holiday Inn Paris OperaGrands Boulevard 122 EUR = US$159. No Reward Rooms Available (25,000 points). TripAdvisor Rank #943.
  • Holiday Inn Paris Gare de l’Est 111.50 EUR = US$145 or 25,000 points (RV = $5.80) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$5.67). TripAdvisor Rank #630.
  • Holiday Inn St. Germain des Pres – 141.25 EUR = US$184 or 25,000 points (RV = $7.36) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$8.27). TripAdvisor Rank #427.
  • Holiday Inn Paris Bastille – 137 EUR = US$178 or 25,000 points (RV=$7.12) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$7.87). TripAdvisor Rank #310.
  • Holiday Inn Paris Elysees – 186.75 EUR = US$243 or 25,000 points (RV = $9.72) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$12.20). TripAdvisor Rank #773.
  • Holiday Inn Paris Montmartre – 120 EUR = US$156 or 25,000 points (RV=$6.24) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$6.40). TripAdvisor Rank #1,129.
  • Holiday Inn Paris Gare Montparnasse – 147.38 EUR = US$191.75 or 25,000 points (RV=$7.67) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$8.78).
  • Holiday Inn Paris Montpernasse Pasteur – 94.12 EUR = US$122 or 25,000 points (RV=$4.88) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$4.13). TripAdvisor Rank #1,114.
  • Holiday Inn Express Paris Canal de la Villette – 121.50 EUR = US$158 or 25,000 points (RV=$6.32) or 15,000 points + $60 (RV=$6.53). TripAdvisor Rank #251.

All the Holiday Inn hotels are already in the 25,000 points top tier reward for Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands. Priority Club reward night tiers are 10K, 15K, 20K and 25K points for these two brands that comprise the majority of IHG hotels worldwide The January 18, 2012 Priority Club Rewards changes added the 20K tier for Holiday Inn and HI Express.

Points & Cash Rewards – The $6 rule.

TIP: Do not buy Priority Club Points & Cash Reward when standard redemption rate is less than $6.00 per 1,000 points.

The basic rule with Priority Club Points & Cash Rewards is look for the redemption rate of a standard reward over $6.00 per 1,000 points which is the rate a member can buy 10,000 points when booking a Points & Cash Reward night. The Points & Cash Reward will have an even higher redemption rate than the standard reward.

The flip side is any hotel with a standard redemption rate less than $6.00 per 1,000 points ($6 redemption value means $150 room rate is 25,000 points reward) will have an even lower redemption value with Points & Cash.

The Holiday Inn Paris Elysees has the highest redemption value of $12.20 per 1,000 points on the Points & Cash Reward. Buying 10,000 points for $60 to save $122 is a good deal.

IHG has numerous options for Paris. Priority Club is a good program for a free night, but the quality of these hotels appears to be less than aspirational based on the low ratings in TripAdvisor.com.

 

Marriott Rewards

Marriott has good standard award availability in the Paris area for several hotels during the March 16-20 dates. A four-night stay is an unfortunate length of time for Marriott Rewards since the 5th night free reward is the same cost as a 4-night stay reward.

Starwood and Hilton also have 5th night free rewards. IHG does not offer any discount for extended stay rewards. Hilton is only program to have a discount on four night stays (15%). Hilton HHonors also has the best discount for stays of 6 or more nights at 25% off standard rates.

  • Renaissance Paris Vendome  309 EUR = US$402 or Marriott Rewards category 8 hotel = 160,000 points for 4 nights. Redemption Value = $10.05 per 1,000 points. TripAdvisor rank = #154
  • Marriott Paris Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center 194 EUR  = US$253 or Marriott Rewards category 6 hotel = 120,000 points for 4 nights. RV= $8.43. TripAdvisor rank = #301
  • Marriott Paris Champs Elysees 399 EUR = US$519 or Marriott Rewards category 8 hotel = 160,000 points for 4 nights. Redemption Value = $12.98 per 1,000 points. TripAdvisor rank = #148.
  • Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe 279 EUR = US$363 or Marriott Rewards category 7 hotel = 140,000 points for 4 nights. Redemption Value = $10.37 per 1,000 points. TripAdvisor rank = #14.
  • Renaissance Paris Le Parc Trocadero  269 EUR = US$350 or Marriott Rewards category 7 hotel = 140,000 points for 4 nights. Redemption Value = $10.00 per 1,000 points. TripAdvisor rank = #249.
  • Courtyard Paris Arcueil 139 EUR = US$181 or Marriott Rewards category 5 hotel = 100,000 points for 4 nights. Redemption Value = $7.24 per 1,000 points. TripAdvisor rank = na. This hotel is outside the city center district. There are three Courtyard Hotels about five miles outside city center at category 5 rewards. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa credit card members receive annual free night voucher good for up to category 5 hotels.

Marriott Rewards wins the hotel reward redemption value comparison based on the ease of finding reward nights at a variety of hotels and the high quality of the hotels as rated in TripAdvisor.com in hundreds of reviews for each hotel. Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe is ranked #14 out of 1,848 hotels in Paris and the redemption value is over $10 per 1,000 points. The redemption would be even better if staying five nights for the same number of points.

Conclusion:

IHG Priority Club and Marriott Rewards both have plenty of hotel options. Hilton has only two central Paris properties and both were limited to Premium Room Rewards. Hilton does not fare well in this comparison of hotel rewards.

The room rates at Marriott and Hilton brand hotels is rather high compared to Priority Club locations with the numerous Holiday Day Inn options. This also reflects the different market segments of the hotels. Holiday Inn is the place for lower rates.

The question is how does one compare 240,000 points ($1,484 room rate) for the Hilton Arc de Triomphe to 160,000 Priority Club points + $240 for a 4-night stay at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand on a Points & Cash reward ($1,588 room rate – $240 = $1,348 savings) to 140,000 points for the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe ($1,452 room rate).

Hotel base spend required to earn points for 4-night Paris stay in respective loyalty programs:

  • $14,000 Marriott Rewards (no elite status), as long as few Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites stays.
  • $16,000 Hilton HHonors Points & Points earner (no elite status).
  • $16,000 Priority Club (no elite status).
  • $14,546 Priority Club (Gold elite status 10% bonus points).
  • $13,913 Hilton HHonors Points & Points earner (Silver elite 20% bonus points).
  • $12,800 Hilton HHonors Points & Points earner (Gold elite 25% bonus points).
  • $11,667 Marriott Rewards (Silver elite 20% bonus points).
  • $11,200 Marriott Rewards (Gold elite 25% bonus points).
  • $10,667 Hilton HHonors Points & Points earner (Diamond elite 50% bonus points).
  • $10,667 Priority Club (Platinum elite 50% bonus points).
  • $9,334   Marriott Rewards (Platinum elite 50% bonus points).

The hotel spend needed for these reward redemptions are virtually identical amounts across the three programs if Marriott Champs-Elysees at 160,000 points for a 4-night stay is used in this same comparison.

Promotion Bonus Points Really Matter

The difference between the rate members earn points in these three programs really comes down to the program that offers more opportunities to earn promotion bonus points.

I am fond of saying on Loyalty Traveler:

Promotions make all the difference in earning points in a hotel loyalty program.

TripAdvisor.com Renaissance Paris Arc

Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe ranks #14 hotel on TripAdvisor.com

Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe

 

The next article in this series comparing the mega-chain hotel loyalty programs of Hilton HHonors, IHG Priority Club and Marriott Rewards will look at recent promotions and points earning opportunities in these loyalty programs.

Loyalty Traveler series: Comparison of Hilton HHonors, Marriott Rewards and IHG Priority Club hotel loyalty programs

1. Hilton, Marriott and IHG Hotel Brand Market Segments(Jan 15, 2012) – this post lists the different hotel brands, number of hotels in the brand, percentage of hotels in each brand and brand’s hotel market segment.

2. Hilton, IHG Marriott: Earning Base Points and Miles(Jan 17, 2012).

3. Making Elite with Marriott, IHG, Hilton(Jan 18, 2012) – Discussion of elite qualification requirements, elite status challenges and status matches.

4. Hotel Rewards Comparison: IHG, Marriott and Hilton (Jan 21, 2012)

19 Responses

  1. thanks for a very detailed analysis, it’s very informative

  2. The idea that LeGrand is the 269th best hotel in Paris is laughable. Euro for euro it is probably the best luxury option in town.

  3. Radisson has some nice options in Paris all with high (top 15-18%) Tripadvisor ratings. 50k per night. That’s how we are using our 400k Club Carlson points from the Big Night Giveaway. All the rooms are pricing out at over 350 Euros for the nights we want to go.

  4. For the next two months, you can get the HI Opera Grands Blvds for 15k on the old point system.

  5. For the next two months, you can get the HI Opera Grands Blvds for 15k on the old point system.

    How?? I called yesterday for a stay in Early Feb and was quoted 25K per night! Do I need to do call center roulette????

  6. Nice analysis! I really like how you brought things together with the spend required to earn the points. I suspect that Hilton would win out if you assume that points are earned from credit card spend and you use the Surpass as the Hilton option…

  7. @Raffles – Yours is an opinion I respect. That is the reason why I rarely limit my review search to TripAdvisor.com. I would have looked over FlyerTalk reviews if this were a trip i really planned to make.

    @FrequentMiler – Hilton would have fared quite well in this case study if VIP Award for 4 nights was available.

    136,000 points for Hilton La Defense would be just $6,800 in hotel base spend for HHonors Diamond member. That spend level is reduced significantly with HHonors American Express Surpass points and HHonors bonus points from promotions.

    @Sky King – I suspect Club Carlson points are valuable for Paris. I limited this analysis to the three chains. There was a fair value reward with SPG for Westin Paris Vendome category 6 at $150 + 8,000 points per night or 276 EUR = $360. $26.25 per 1,000 points is fair value.

    I like to get $40 to $60 per 1,000 points on SPG Cash & Points rewards.

    @Johnnie D – Call Priority Club Rewards and the old Priority Club reward rate is supposed to be given until March 18.

  8. “For the next two months, you can get the HI Opera Grands Blvds for 15k on the old point system.”

    I called also and they said the old rate was 25,000 also.

  9. Thanks for this series! I am HH Gold and had previously tried to stay at Hilton properties, but work is putting me up in a Marriott (sadly, just a TPS, so only 5 points/$ base) so I had been curious to see the differences between the programs.

  10. @Scott – that is one of the issues with Priority Club not posting a list of changes. CaoChong’s list of 15,000 points Holiday Inn hotels included Paris Opera Grand.

    That list might be wrong or Priority Club may have changed Holiday Inn Paris Opera.

    Who knows?

    As Priority Club members we have little proof to challenge the tier level Priority Club says unless you have evidence of someone having stayed at the hotel on a 15,000 points reward very recently.

  11. This was a very informative article. One thing missing is the Hilton Axon reward redemption if you have the Hilton Amex card. 4 nights at a category 7 is only 145,000 points. With that in mind i would suggest that Hilton wins the head to head battle.

  12. @zsanman – Hilton AXON is a great discount and would have been the highest value discount if it were available for the dates March 16-20 in the program comparison.

    This was a comparison using a fixed date stay of March 16-20, 2012. Neither Hilton hotel in Paris had standard room reward availability so no VIP Rewards and no AXON HHonors American Express discount at 125,000 or 145,000 points for these hotels.

    In this case study a Marriott Rewards member and a Priority Club Rewards member had several choices for hotel reward redemption. The HHonors member had no choice but pay the high published rate or put out 240,000 points for a Premium Room Reward.

    On paper HHonors has the best reward value for Paris, but in reality the high value VIP and American Express cardmember rewards at the two Hilton Hotels are unavailable and the member needs to burn nearly 100,000 more points for a 4-night Premium Room Reward than the 4-night AXON reward for March 16-20 stay.

  13. Ric, great analysis. Do you have any advice how to book reward stays for a family of four (couple with 10-yr-old boy and 7-yr-old boy)? Use the same example here, I could hardly find any availabilities, or much more points needed. Is this just something unique in Europe?

  14. Although all three come to be virtually identical according your analysis, we shouldn’t forget the benefits one would get (as an Gold, Plat. or Diamond elite member) if staying at each of those properties. As a Hilton Gold/Diamond one would get free Internet, free breakfast for two, free Executive Lounge access, free upgrade depending on availability, and also those four nights will count for his next years elite status. In IGH, the most a Plat. member will get will be an upgrade if available. And in Marriott a Gold/Plat would receive breakfast for one, upgrade on availability, and free Internet (also lounge access but unfortunately the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe doesn’t have one).
    So, I’d say Hilton does win even though it didn’t have availability for a VIP rewards or standard rewards.

  15. I agree with Izak–I stayed at both the Intercontinental Paris on an award as an IHG Ambassador and the Hilton ADT as a Diamond. There was no comparison–as an Ambassador got a slightly larger room but nothing else. As a Diamond, we got access to the terrific Hilton Exec Lounge with breakfast, Champagne and drinks, appetizers and all. The IC had a more convenient location near the Paris Opera

    Comment by silver springer on January 25th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  16. Is there a reason that you do not include SPG in your comparison?

    Anyway: I stayed at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe on an award stay as HH diamond about three years ago (don’t remember how many points I spent, but it were about all the points I had left). My wife still claims it had the best breakfast buffet she ever experienced in a hotel. I disagree, but nevertheless it was quite a pleasant stay.

  17. @Breston – I am doing a series comparing IHG, Marriott and Hilton. I actually had the data for SPG, but I did not include it to keep the piece from being even longer.

    @AY – Europe can be difficult on reward stays for a family. Hilton and IHG both offer family rates where kids stay free. I do not travel with children and I spend little time looking at those options. That is a good idea for another analysis to look at family options.

    @Izak – Benefits are an important aspect of reward stays if you are elite. Hilton does offer breakfast which can be a significant money factor on a 4 night stay.

    This piece simply looked at reward availability. The benefits received as an elite member adds several different more factors to consider.

  18. I am going to Paris March 14th-19th and this was helpful, except for the fact that I am new to this “game” Any help or advice for a newbie?

  19. @Carol – Two ways to approach hotel loyalty programs. I try to blend both of these approaches for hotel stays.

    1. Go for the best value promotion and maximize hotel stay bonuses and rebates for overall discount rates at hotels.

    2. Earn the highest elite membership with at least one hotel loyalty program. The added benefits between mid-tier and top-tier make the journey so much more comfortable whether it is a frequent flier program or hotel program.

    Look at the benefits the major hotel loyalty programs offer and pick where you want to be in the membership tier to maximize the benefits that mean the most to you.

    Suite upgrades, free breakfast, free internet, concierge services, free nights, earning credit card points, trading hotel points for miles, extended stay reward discounts are different aspects of hotel loyalty programs.

    The best hotel program tends to depend on what kind of travel you do (business, leisure, family, solo), how frequently you stay (10 nights/year, 40 nights/year, 100+ nights a year) and how much you spend (50 nights can be $4,000 or $14,000 in hotel spend).

    Keep reading and you won’t be a newbie much longer.

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