When I look at a redemption, I tend to consider things from many angles. The overall feeling is a combination of the following thoughts: How awesome will this trip be? How efficiently am I paying for it, and what is the opportunity I am losing in order to select it? In the past I did this with my Hyatt and Hilton hotel nights, comparing a single average night of the hotel, here’s an older list of this:
Truth be told, I wouldn’t bother writing another post like that, too labor intensive, and I’d rather check in real time to see value. However, what I liked about them was that you got to see an overall value for each hotel, and also a chance to cross check that with competitive hotels in the area to see if the brand name property was inflating the price.
How much weight should you put on price?
Let’s be honest, we’re traveling for fun, and way above the level average humans do. So you could say it is fine to pick any variable you like to help deliver a destination schedule. For example, you might pick the Paris Hyatt Vendome just because it is really pricey, and if you happen to need to go to Paris to make that work, so be it. Indeed, I often think that we are on borrowed time when it comes to the points game, so maybe getting in the trips you couldn’t otherwise is a good idea.
Using price alone though, can be a tricky thing. Hotels base price on demand. That was a big flaw with my three posts, I only took one random day, and if you do that you might find a crappy Kentucky hotel charging more than the Park Hyatt New York if its Derby day. That said, there’s something for the event rather than the hotel driving the decision to visit somewhere.
Where we are today
I decided to become loyal to Marriott this year, we may even have paid for a stay for a work trip (the horror!) so with that, we’re over 300k already, though I am unsure as to the exact number. We’re focused on the nights and flights awards. I’m trying to decide where to cash in a voucher… should we stop at tier 1-3, or go for tier 4-5 Ritz Carltons?
The choice to earn more or pivot to another program is based on the spread between what I can have today, and what I could achieve if I kept going. To be frank, there’s a pretty nice looking Marriott Cat 9 also… on Scrub Island.
What we’re doing when looking at sticker price is trying to find a diamond in the rough, is there a single property, in a place we haven’t been (so don’t know the relative costs) that stands out for some reason? It has a place in the process, because there are always going to be better and worse examples of a property within each tier/category bracket, but its not everything.
Recently we elected experience/location over cash discount. We made this decision when considering to book Europe or Alaska for a cruise, if it was a pure cash decision we should have done Alaska. As for the Ritz Carlton/Marriott stay, I imagine it will be a mix of many things again… so, perhaps rather than run the numbers constantly I could ask you, if you could stay at any Ritz Carlton for a week, where would it be? And would you push for the tier 4-5 range if you could cash in a 1-3 today?
Note, I believe that you can redeem today and later bump up the voucher to the next tier/s by paying the points difference, its a handy trick, if true.
Matt, whatever your decision, you should do it soon. Marriott/United is having a promotion — I think on United’s end, that if you were to convert points to miles that you could get upwards of an additional 25% transfer bonus, with the extra miles capped at and additional 20,000 miles.
What is not so well known, is that this transfer bonus also applies to the Travel Packages (that’s Marriott’s parlance, Nights ‘N Flights is an SPG thang, but essentially same difference).
In any event, I think this bonus ends on 8/31/15, so if you are going to pull the trigger, just have this in mind!
That’s pretty cool- thanks!
I did this promotion back in March in order to get a companion pass, and I’m kinda in the same boat.
We did the Ritz cards to combine for 280k points, and used 270k to earn 120k rapid rewards and a free week at a cat 1-5. However, that week can be bumped up at any point to a higher level with available points. So I have enough points to do the Ritz 4-5, but I’m looking for a sweet spot, and preferably one that’s easy to get to.
I agree on Scrub Island, but if you look at costs of getting to the BVI plus the fact that you’re being held hostage to their restaurants, excursions, etc… it’ll add up quickly.
A few I’ve found that fit into a sweet spot for what I want (being an active traveler I have trouble staying in one place for very long) are St. Croix, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, throughout Hawaii, but especially the big island, and several in northern california that aren’t coming to mind.
(as a side note, at the time of booking this deal, they told me that I could always call in and request that it be extended, and as long as they were still offering it as an existing promotion, they’d be more than happy to do that. I don’t have a stay planned for my nights, and may not get them in before a year is up, but I feel more comfortable knowing I can probably push it out if needed.)
Great points- thanks very much for the comment! I’m actually considering cashing in at a low level and working up. We like the look of Bali, but the comps aren’t great and the flights a long one… Maybe North America for us too.
I feel like if I spend a lot (points or cash) to go somewhere I want to see everything I can, which is why I’m looking closer to home and something beachy. Awardmapper has been pretty useful just in finding locations, and then I’ll keep track on a spreadsheet the redemption values (I’m shooting for something above $.01/point) where I’m not stuck eating in their restaurants every meal.
I don’t know if they participate in the hotel and flights packages yet, but the Protea hotels in South Africa are all around a cat 5 and go for $200+/night, and there’s also the Delta hotels in Canada.
Yeah I’m a big fan of that one too. Africa is an idea.. We went for honeymoon and would love to return.
If you think the movie South Pacific was filmed in Bali, I understand it was filmed in Kauai. Don’t be shocked when you see how different Bali is from Kauai. Been there, done that.