Bad news: Radisson devaluation announced and it stinks

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The other shoe has dropped, and it’s mostly bad news: Radisson Rewards has released the details of its new “Radisson Americas” loyalty program with a newly improved wrecked award chart that includes fewer tiers (what they call “simplified pricing”) while increasing both the bottom and top tiers of the award chart and most of what existed in between. Note that award chart changes and the new program take effect in June 2021 (there is still time to book at today’s rates). Some properties move down in category, but there really isn’t much good news here — and the coming program split will be as customer-unfriendly as possible. Boo, Radisson.

Radisson’s new award chart

Up until now, this has been Radisson’s worldwide award chart:

And here is the new “simplified” award chart:

Here is a link to the list of hotels changing in category, but read on first.

What you may quickly notice is that the new award chart eliminates the old 9,000-point Category 1 and moves the remaining tiers up for all but the most generous interpretation of the award chart. And it does a super slick job of it. More on that in a second.

Radisson touts in their email today that there are now double the number of properties available for 15,000 points per night, though I had to laugh about that since they eliminated the lower 9,000 point tier….so yeah, of course there are more 15,000-point properties. Nice try sugar-coating that one, Radisson.

Then if we go up the old award chart starting at 15K, here are the changes:

  • Old = 28K. New = 30K
  • Old = 38K. New = 45K.
  • Old = 44K or 50K (they eliminated a tier in here). New = 60K.
  • Old = 70K. New = 75K.

As devaluations go, that’s kind of ugly. The old 28K tier goes up to 30K, which isn’t terrible, but everything else goes up a ton:

  • Old 9K is gone, so those properties presumably cost 66% more at 15K
  • Old 44K and 50K properties that go into the new 60K category have gone up by 20 or 36%. As you’ll see below, a number of 28K properties moved up to the new 45K, which is a 60% increase.
  • New top tier only increases by 7%. Yay.

As if that wasn’t enough to turn my stomach before I even got a second cup of coffee this morning, the way they display their category changes at this page on their website is pretty disgusting. For example, check out this random selection from that page showing a few properties that are “decreasing in category from Category 5 to Category 4” with a new price of 60,000 points per night.

Now go back up to that old award chart and count with me to the old Category 5. Yup, those places are 44,000 points per night right now. Soon, they will decrease in category and you’ll get to instead pay the simplified price of 60,000 points per night. Did that sentence work on you? Me either.

The category changes page is a misleading mess with many properties that look like they are maintaining their current category yet jumping up wildly in price. For example, here is a random smattering of properties currently in Category 3 which will still be in Category 3 in the new program.

That’s a lovely bit of PR spin because if you look at the old and new charts you’ll see that those properties go from 28,000 points per night to 45,000 points per night, an increase of over 60%. What an incredibly misleading way to present the changes!

The same story happens throughout the page showing the changes.

My preferred Radisson property in the US has been the Radisson Blu Mall of America, which decreases from Category 7 to Category 5 — but that means it increases in price from 70K points per night to 75K points per night. Most of the time, cash rates just aren’t high enough to justify the current 70K pricing, though it’s a place where I’d ordinarily be happy to use my free night certificates (bummer that my 3 from last year are expiring June 30th as I won’t make it there this year).

The Radisson Blu Mall of America isn’t particularly special for the rooms itself (gotta love the blue carpet through!), but being physically attached to the mall and able to get off the elevator and go exploring is kinda fun.

Notable category decreases

This section of the post will be very short because I really couldn’t bring myself to get too excited about the flew positive glimmers, but here were some notable decreases that I noticed:

  • Park Inn by Radisson Barrancabermeja goes from 70K down to 15K (it’s a stretch to call this property in the middle of Colombia a positive glimmer only because I have to imagine that few readers have ever heard of Barrancabermeja no less through about visiting and while this is indeed a Category 7 for some reason beyond my comprehension, Google unsurprisingly makes it look like a Park Inn. If you’ve ever stayed at a Park Inn, you know what this looks like and are as perplexed as I am as to why it was Category 7)
  • Radisson Hotel New York Wall Street goes from 70K down to 60K
  • Radisson San Jose Costa Rica goes from 28K to 15K
  • Radisson Hotel Baltimore Downtown-Inner Harbor goes from 38K to 30K
  • Park Inn by Radisson, Calgary Airport North, AB goes from 44K per night down to 30K per night (might make for a good overnight on the way to/from Banff)
  • Radisson Hotel Recife (Brazil) goes from 44K per night to 15K per night

To be clear, I don’t know if any of the above hotels are nice places to stay, they are just places that have decreased in price. I see a selection of other properties that have decreased in price that are heavily concentrated in Latin America. Someday when I get back to Ecuador maybe I’ll be happy to pick up a hotel in Quito or Guayaquil for 15K points per night, but I just don’t see the decreases being particularly useful in most circumstances.

Overall, the hotels decreasing in category may be convenient in the right circumstances but are unlikely to be exciting to anyone.

Do you need to rebook?

If you currently have a reservation at a property that is decreasing in price, you will not receive an automatic refund. Radisson notes that if awards are available, you can simply cancel and rebook. If they aren’t available, you’ll have to call for a refund of the difference. Not exactly the most customer-friendly move.

If you are staying at a property that increased in price, this is what Radisson has to say:

What if I booked an Award Night for a hotel that is going up in points, will I be charged more?

No, you are in luck! We will honor the rate at the time you booked your stay.

That’s right, folks — you are in luck. They’re going to honor the rate they agreed to charge you when you reserved your room — you know, the way hotel reservations always work. If you book a cash rate today for a hotel stay on New Year’s Eve, I can guarantee that the cash rate will have gone up by the time you check in….but you don’t get charged the walk-up price for a reservation you made 8 months in advance. I don’t feel lucky nor do I give Radisson much credit for holding up their end of the bargain here. To be clear, I wouldn’t be angry about the inclusion of the question if they didn’t make it sound like they are doing members a favor.

Two bright spots: Family room awards and RewardSaver

One thing that stood out at me as a family traveler is that there is now a standard price for a “family room” on the award chart, which presumably means being able to book a room with a little extra space. I always appreciated a room with any extra space when my first son was sleeping in a pack-and-play, so hopefully there will be some decent room options there. Of course, it sounds like maybe I’ll be less likely to be able to book a standard room and be able to score a free upgrade to that family room . . .

Radisson also announced that they will introduce “RewardSaver” rates that you can see in the award chart. They say that this will not be tired to peak and off-peak dates but rather could happen “any time” and you should “keep your bags packed”. A reference to last-minute rates buried within the info leads me to believe that these will likely be offered last-minute when hotel occupancy is low — so not strictly limited to pre-determined off-peak rates, but more likely than not at times of low demand anyway.

What else is changing when Radisson splits programs?

As you may recall, we had previously reported that the Radisson Rewards program would split into a Radisson Hotels Americas program and a Radisson Hotels (i.e. Rest of the World) program. More information and FAQs can be found here.

Radisson Americas will cover North/South America and the Caribbean (so if you live in this region, you’ll automatically become a Radisson Americas member and be able to earn and redeem in Radisson Americas). The rest of the world will be under Radisson Hotels.

Here are my quick takes on the changes:

Good news:

  • You’ll be able to transfer points 1:1 between the split programs using the “new Global Points Transfer process launching in June”
  • You’ll be able to match status across the two programs
  • You’ll be able to earn and redeem rewards in both programs, but……

Bad news:

  • One has to wonder whether the points transfer process will be instant. If it doesn’t brag about it being instant, I’m skeptical.
  • You’ll have to call to status match, it won’t be automatic or possible online
  • You’ll earn points separately in the two programs. That is to say that if you live in the US and as such are a member of Radisson Hotels Americas and you stay at a property in Europe, you won’t earn elite nights or points in the Radisson Hotels Americas program but rather in the program covering the rest of the world. You should then be able to transfer the points to Radisson Hotels Americas, but not the elite night credits.

I don’t yet see any information about category changes for the global (non-Americas) program, which makes me wonder if there will be an award chart change there yet to come.

Overall, this just complicates things and is an unfortunate change.

Bottom line

There may be a few decent properties dropping in award price, but overall there is a lot of bad news on the Radisson front today. As someone sitting on a few hundred thousand points and some free night certificates, I’m not too excited at all. I may just book some nights at a Radisson Hotels (Rest of the World) property now hoping that when the programs split in June my points will be stuck on the “rest of the world” side, where I’m more likely to use them in the future anyway. Of course, as Greg pointed out when I floated that idea in discussion on Frequent Miler on the Air, maybe if I do that and cancel the points will just disappear into the ether since they came from an account that is split off from where the hotel is. What a mess! Radisson hasn’t been a program where it made sense to heavily invest for most US-based travelers and today’s news certainly doesn’t do anything to change that. Here’s hoping this Radisson Individuals boutique brand that Greg found turns into something.

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