It was just a couple of weeks ago that we learned the Radisson Rewards program would split in two. That might seem like an odd decision for a loyalty program. Ultimately, it didn’t have anything to do with customer preference or the like (it’s actually a regulatory issue). It’s notable (maybe only to me) that Radisson is one of the first hotel chains I have memories of. My father was a road warrior and used to book us at Radisson hotels for family vacations. This was back in the day where you could redeem airline miles for a pack of awards that included airline tickets and these perforated vouchers for hotels and rental cars. They’ve never been a great fit for me as a road warrior but they have some truly interesting hotels.
The structural changes to the program are outlined here and will affect some members more than others.
Alongside those changes, there are two notable changes that I think members should focus on.
Radisson Rewards Category Changes
Radisson Rewards is simplifying their award chart, reducing from 7 categories total to 5. At the same time, they’re increasing the bottom tier from 9,000 points per night to 15,000 points per night. And, the new top tier goes from 70,000 points per night to 75,000 points per night.
The change at the bottom of the award chart will likely make budget stays for families a lot more difficult to justify. While I wasn’t able to dig into the new award chart ahead of time, I’ll try to spend some time with once I have the new chart to figure out where the best value is. The big thing to look for here is Radisson Rewards’ announcement that almost 30% of hotels will require fewer points to book in the new award chart. Considering all the lower-tier properties are getting pricier, I do expect there to be some value at nicer properties.
RewardSaver Will Be An Innovative Plus For Members
I ended up on the phone with Matt Vaccarella, Senior Director Global Loyalty Strategy at Radisson and his colleagues talking through the upcoming changes. RewardSaver really caught my eye. This new benefit, as described by Matt, is dynamic pricing customers will actually appreciate.
RewardSaver will provide a 30% discount on standard award stays. Think of this like off-peak pricing without the hammer of peak pricing. So far, this benefit is only intended for properties in North and South America as well as the Caribbean and Central America. Radisson Rewards will be controlling the inventory on this, which is another promising piece. RewardSaver will be tied to demand, so don’t expect to see 30% discounts in the Caribbean during spring break.
However, Radisson Rewards notes that they expect every property to have some RewardSaver inventory throughout the year. I dug in a bit more on how this would happen. They admitted that they don’t have every detail worked out for the next 12 months, which is understandable. But, they anticipate some level of RewardSaver inventory available when the new program launches. They also noted that it’s less likely you’ll find RewardSaver inventory far in advance (more than 6 months ahead of time).
But, a really key benefit here is that they won’t be penalizing members who book early if RewardSaver becomes available further down the pike. If you book something for 6 months from now at a standard award rate and RewardSaver becomes available 30 days prior to your arrival, you’ll be able to call Radisson Rewards customer service to have them change the award and credit your account with the difference in points.
The Final Two Pennies
A new award chart will take a bit of time to figure out winners and losers as Radisson Rewards prepares for a June 17th launch of the new program structure. However, when the program does launch we have RewardSaver to look forward to. The chance to save 30% will be a plus for members. And, Radisson Rewards will make it easy for customers to take advantage of those discounts without going through the hassle of rebooking awards. This also avoids the mess I’ve seen from some readers who attempted to rebook a vacation at lower rates only to lose the room they had on hold.
At the end of the day, I almost never feel good when a loyalty program announces major changes. In this case, it seems members may do okay. There’s still a reasonable chance that the most affordable hotels on the new award chart will have RewardSaver availability, turning a 15,000 point per night redemption into something much closer to the current 9,000 points per night. We’ll have to see how everything shakes out, but signs seem to point to changes members will enjoy.
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Featured image of Radisson Aquatica Resort, Barbados courtesy of Radisson Hotels