What are Radisson Hotels Americas points worth?

5

All at once, Radisson has split into two programs and changed their award chart.  Were these changes good or bad for booking Radisson hotels in the U.S.?  And what are Radisson points worth now?

Radisson Blu Anaheim rendering courtesy of the hotel’s website

On June 17th, Radisson split it’s loyalty program between Radisson Hotels Americas and Radisson (the rest of the world).  At the same time, they also introduced new hotel categories and award prices.  Nick covered the expected new pricing in the following two posts:

Well, which is it?  Did Radisson get worse or better?

Leveraging the method I’ve been using lately to determine Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) for hotel programs, I set out to answer the question of whether Radisson’s program is better or worse than before.  Plus, of course, it was well past time to update our RRVs.  For years, our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) for Radisson points was 0.38 cents per point.  This was based on data collected in 2017 via a website that no longer exists.

I collected data on two different days: May 17, 2021 (before the program changed) and June 19, 2021 (after the program changed).  On both days, I collected real-world cash prices and point prices.  As I’ve done previously in analyses of other hotel loyalty programs, I examined 7 major hotel markets in the U.S. (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and Seattle). Within each market, I identified the top 3 Radisson booking search results with a Trip Advisor rating of 4.0 or better, and I recorded both cash and award prices for three dates each: a weekday, a weekend, and a holiday weekend.  For the second data collection date, I used the same exact set of hotels identified the first time but with one exception: the Radisson Hotel New York Times Square (along with a couple of other New York properties) is no longer on Radisson’s website.  So, I picked a different hotel that met the 4.0 rating criteria.  Afterwards I verified that the results were the same with or without this one hotel.

  • Why U.S. only? U.S. consumers are known to spend most of their points and miles on domestic travel.  Since the majority of this blog’s audience resides in the U.S. we opted for a U.S. centric view of point values.
  • Why TripAdvisor? The goal wasn’t to find the 3 best Radisson hotels in each market. Instead, the goal was to find the 3 Radisson bookable hotels that are most popular.  Which ones are people really likely to book?  Since many people use TripAdvisor to pick hotels, this seems like a good way to identify those hotels.
  • Which paid rates were selected?  I always picked the best refundable paid rate shown on Radisson’s website, but without applying any discounts like AAA, military, government, etc.  In most cases, I selected Radisson’s rate titled “Semi Flexible Rate-Members”.
  • What about point earnings on paid rates? An ideal analysis may include the value of point earnings on paid rates.  For simplicity, this was not considered in this analysis.  This decision has the effect of over-valuing Radisson points.
  • What about taxes and fees? For simplicity, taxes, resort fees, and other fees are not included in this analysis.  This decision has the effect of under-valuing Radisson points.
  • Which specific dates did I use?  
    • Weekday: Wednesday September 15th.  In one case I had to switch the next Wednesday in order to find available rooms.
    • Weekend Day: Friday October 15th.  In one case, I switched to Friday September 24th to find an available room.
    • Holiday Weekend Day: Friday November 26 (Thanksgiving Weekend).

Results

Analysis Date: 5/17/21 6/19/21
Point Value (Median) 0.31 cents 0.34 cents
Point Value (Mean) 0.34 cents 0.36 cents
Cash Price (Median) $118 $121
Cash Price (Mean) $137 $139
Point Price (Median) 38,000 45,000
Point Price (Mean) 41,746 42,381
Minimum Point Value 0.19 cents 0.17 cents
Maximum Point Value 0.68 cents 0.60 cents

The median observed point value on 6/19/21 was 0.34 cents per point.  This means that half of the observed results offered equal or better point value and half offered equal or worse value.  Another way to think about it is that without trying to cherry pick good awards, you have a 50/50 chance of getting 0.34 cents or better value from your Radisson Rewards points when booking free night awards.

Worse than 2017, but slightly better than May 2021: The median point value of 0.34 is a bit worse than our old 2017 RRV of 0.38, but it’s slightly better than what I observed a month ago before the program changed.  This leads me to conclude that Radisson points have become slightly less valuable over time, but the latest changes appear to be inconsequential, on average.

Pick your own RRV June 19th 2021 Analysis
50th Percentile (Median) 0.34 cents
60th Percentile 0.37 cents
70th Percentile 0.41 cents
80th Percentile 0.48 cents
90th Percentile 0.51 cents

When we publish point RRVs, we conservatively pick the middle value, or the 50th percentile.  The idea is that just by randomly picking hotels to use your points, you have a 50/50 chance of getting this value or better.  But what if you cherry-pick awards?  Many people prefer to hold onto their points until they find good value uses for them.  If that’s you, then you may want to use the table above to pick your own RRV.  For example, if you think that you’ll hold out for the best 10% value awards, then pick the 90th Percentile.  If you cherry-pick a bit, but not that much, you might want to use the 70th Percentile (for example).  Note that the 80th and 90th percentiles are both around half a cent each so that seems like a reasonable number to use for those who always wait for the very best award values.

New Reasonable Redemption Value

Our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) for Radisson points was previously set to 0.38 cents per point based on data from 2017.  RRV’s are intended to be the point at which it is reasonable to get that much value or better for your points.  Therefore, I believe that the median observed value on June 19th is a good choice for our RRV…

Reasonable Redemption Value for Radisson Americas: 0.34 cents per point

Hotel RRV methodology

A number of people have argued that I should include taxes in the hotel rates used for analyses like this one because leaving out taxes means undervaluing points (since free night awards do not incur most taxes).  However, there are many factors besides taxes that are equally important and also, for the sake of simplicity, are not included in my analyses.  My hope is that these factors roughly balance each other out…

Factors that cause us to undervalue points

  • We do not include hotel taxes in our analyses.  Most taxes are charged on paid stays but not award stays.
  • With hotel programs that waive resort fees on award stays (Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham), we do not include resort fees in our analyses.
  • With hotel programs that offer 4th Night Free Awards (IHG, with some credit cards), or 5th Night Free Awards (Hilton & Marriott), or award discounts (Wyndham), we do not consider the point savings in our analyses.
  • With hotel programs that offer free parking on award stays to top-tier elites (Hyatt), we do not factor this in.

Factors that cause us to overvalue points

  • We do not use discount rates (other than member rates) in our analyses.  In real-life, many people book hotels cheaper (and sometimes far cheaper) by using AAA rates, government & military rates, senior rates, etc.
  • We do not use hotel promotional rates unless they automatically show up as the best available price.  Often, individual hotels have deals such as “Stay 2 Nights, Get 1 Night Free” which can greatly reduce the cost of a stay.
  • We do not use prepaid rates in our analyses.  Sometimes these rates are significantly lower than refundable rates.
  • We do not factor in rebates which can be earned from booking hotels through shopping portals.
  • We do not factor in points earned from paid stays.  These points can be thought of as a rebate on paid stays only.
  • We do not factor in extra points earned on paid stays for those with elite status.
  • We do not factor in hotel loyalty program promotions: Most promotions, but not all, only offer incentives for paid stays.  We often see promos offering bonus points, double or triple points, free night awards, etc.

Given the factors listed above, I think that including taxes in our analyses would lead us to over-value points.

Conclusion

Based on the latest analysis, I’ve slightly decreased our Radisson RRV from 0.38 to 0.34 cents per point.  The idea is that you have equal chance of getting that much value or more from your award stays.  This post’s percentile results show that it’s possible to get around 0.5 cents per point value by cherry-picking awards, but you’re unlikely to get significantly higher value.

In this post I’ve also answered the question for Radisson Americas: is the new award chart better or worse than before?  Based on the selection of hotels and dates I examined, the new award chart leads to slightly better point values, but the difference is so minor as to be inconsequential.  People will find big differences, both good and bad, when looking at individual hotels, but on average there appears to be little difference.

For a complete list of Reasonable Redemption Values (and links to posts like this one), see: Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs).

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