IHG Revamping PointBreaks — Good Or Bad News?

For years, IHG Rewards Club has been offering PointBreaks, which is one of the best promotions in the hotel industry. On a quarterly basis IHG has made well over a hundred hotels available for just 5,000 points per night. The hotels are available on a limited basis, so the best hotels typically sell out within days, while some hotels stay on the list for nearly three months.

I value IHG points at ~0.5 cents each, so to me that’s like paying $25 per night at a hotel, which is incredible.

The catch is that this promotion has become less and less useful over the past several years. I remember back in the day there were consistently PointBreaks hotels on the list that I actually wanted to stay at, including several InterContinental and Hotel Indigo properties. Nowadays the number of decent options is more limited, and the average PointBreaks list looks more like a directory of rural, roadside Holiday Inns.

I don’t want to say PointBreaks has become completely useless, but the feedback I’ve gotten from readers more and more is “this list isn’t any good.”

Something had to give, and IHG Rewards Club has announced that they’re changing the PointBreaks promotion.

How IHG is changing PointBreaks

Going forward, PointBreaks properties will no longer all cost 5,000 points per night, but rather will cost 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 points per night. IHG Rewards Club says that they’re doing this to “offer more variety and more locations.” They also say that with the next list we’ll be able to book at more than 200 hotels, which is nearly double the number of hotels previously offered.

Furthermore, IHG Rewards Club has announced that members will be able to book PointBreaks stays using a combination of Points and Cash. Presumably this will work the same as all their other Points and Cash offerings, where you can reduce the number of points required for a stay in 5,000 point increments by paying a supplement. In other words, a 15,000 point property may now cost 10,000 points plus $50, or 5,000 points plus $80.

IHG’s next PointBreaks list will be valid for stays between January 29, 2018, and April 30, 2018. A preview of the hotels on the next list will be available on the IHG blog later today.

Here’s the sampling of the hotels that will be on the next list:

There are three InterContinental hotels on the preview list, which is more than I’ve seen on any list in years.

Is this really a PointBreaks devaluation?

I’m torn on this. On one hand, doubling and tripling the number of points needed through this promotional offer is a pretty major devaluation. At the same time, if it got to the point where most people no longer considered the PointBreaks hotels worthwhile, then it’s not necessarily much of a devaluation.

Short term I don’t view these changes as a negative. If IHG is doubling the number of hotels on the list, and is including nicer hotels on the list, then this promotion has suddenly become interesting for a lot more people again. The big question here is whether the improved quality and variety will continue, or if they’re just improving the quality in the short term to make this feel less like a devaluation.

For now they seem to have better hotels, but will the “enhanced” PointBreaks concept go in the same direction the previous one did, where we see a constant decrease in the quality of hotels, quarter after quarter? Only time will tell.

In the short term I’m excited about these changes, as I could see myself finally using PointBreaks again.

What do you make of these changes? When did you last make a PointBreaks booking?

Comments

  1. I don’t want to go stay at a Holiday Inn Express – Lebanon (Pennsylvania), so maybe this will actually have usable locations. As you’ve said, the list already seems lightyears better than before. It’s still paying $75 for a legit good location, which I’ll take any day of the week.

  2. It will all depend on the break down between the 5-10-15k properties and it’s progression in time. I can’t imagine the number of 5k properties growing.

  3. Unfortunately, 5k hotels was the only thing that made collecting points and status with IHG worthwhile for me – I’m Spire Elite but no lounge access, no happy hour, no breakfast, upgrades in most hotels to a higher floor only, in the UK when you check in as a couple you can choose between Welcome Points or a drink – one drink to share between you which I find insulting.

  4. PointBreaks had effectively become useless in recent years with essentially only a selection of dodgy Holiday Inn Express properties in rural areas available if you failed to book in the first few hours. This isn’t a devaluation – anything with a wider selection at discounted rates (albeit maybe not as hugely discounted as before) is a positive.

  5. It is a devaluation. Next thing you know there will be just handful of 5k properties and all Holiday Inns will be 15K points break. IHG also just raised the points price for Ambassador from 24/32k to 40K. Bean counters at work

  6. I haven’t had much luck booking in time on the Points Breaks. With how they get snapped up, nearby locations for a weekend getaway are all that makes sense (no way to have enough time to plan transportation further) and even then it’s difficult to pick a date that works for me and their is availiblity in time. Hopefully further offerings will make this easier.

    The value of the changes really comes down to how IHG breaks down their list and which properties are offered.

  7. IHG is fast going down the toilet sadly.
    The recent devaluation was huge
    simply as competing major programs offer breakfast of some kind at most hotels,club lounge access and suites welcome amenities to elites or top tier elites etc
    This makes everything IHG sells for revenue or reward worth far less in the initial value proposition.
    The recent massive increases in redemption take back all the bonuses their members earned over the past years.A more more modest increase/devaluation might have been more sustainable acceptable but I am back with Hilton as result.Never say never I suppose 🙂
    IHG does next to nothing but hand you the key to a room and even reserves the right to give u the crappiest room possible if booked on points which is shameful
    They have proven Internationally IC Hong King Sydney etc they will do just so to penalize you for using points and being loyal because they can based on ancient rules spelled out in the program
    Back on topic if a single hotel in a desirable location ever shows up on the list in our lifetime like an IC in Boston San Fran New York London etc than this wasn’t a devaluation
    If the same s**T hole low end hotels in rotten locations (the vast majority) keep coming up at these new higher rates than absolutely another massive devaluation

  8. I agree. The current Pointbreaks had become useless. Any good hotels sold out immediately. Last time, in October, I had reservations that failed because the hotel literally sold out before I could finish my transaction.

    I will withhold thanking IHG management for now, because I have no idea if the new system will be better or worse, but change was inevitable. The previous system, with its too good to be true prices but phantom availability, wasn’t sustainable.

  9. I just spent four nights in a suite in downtown Panama at a lovely Crown Plaza. They even threw in breakfast and couldn’t have been nicer. Even though my wife’s account booked two of the nights, I easily used all four just myself. Total cost was 20,000 points.

    The issue is the quality and selection of what’s made available. It could work out great since its so easy to amass otherwise useless IHG points. We have just over 350K so it’s unlikely that we’re going to need 70 nights at 5K each.

    Let’s give the program a shot and see if they do this right.

  10. IHG has become the Delta of hotels in a lot of ways. IHG points = Delta Sky Pesos. I have millions of IHG points and I am a Spire Ambassador and have been Spire every year since they started that level. I typically stay about 200+ nights a year.

    This whole expanding the options by increasing the points required is the same crap Delta did in a lot of ways. More availability of flights but at double and triple points. I live in airplanes and hotels and I feel the $50-100k (min) I spend annually on flights and comparably on hotels, really isn’t valued that much by the vendors.

    Lifetime Plat with Marriott and when I last booked a hotel in Paris on points, they put me in a crappy room overlooking a dumpster. I was in their top 2% of all guests and that is how I was treated.

    After that terrible experience with Marriott, I pretty much gave up on them. Maybe stayed 20 nights since with them. Oh yeah, their internet never worked in that Marriott at all during my entire stay and it was the one on Champs. It was such a bad experience that I bailed out after 3 days and then booked with the IC about 2 blocks away.

    At least IC gave me a street view, nice wine and chocolates and actually an upgraded room. First time I had ever used any of my points to book anything through IHG. Their Internet was rock solid.

    So I hope IHG doesn’t wreck the program. They really need lounges, breakfast and other perks for their top tier members. Their latest redesign of the website is TOTAL CRAP!!! Boy do I hate it. That is almost enough to keep me from booking with them.

  11. @Lucky,
    “Steve” has posted two comments above. The first is a remark about the merits of a points v hotel deal, which is OK. The second attacks a fellow commentator, Wany, whose only ‘crime’ is to have given an opinion about the subject of this article, as you requested. Will you tell “Steve” to grow up, or do you think it may be too late for that?

  12. I have to chime in to agree with the comment above: the new IHG website is horrible.

    It makes comparison shopping impossible. I am amazed that it made it out into the wild. We can only hope that IHG wakes up and gives us back a usable website. We don’t need “pretty.”

  13. I think today was the last straw with the IHG website. I was looking to book on points. It kept saying I could book on points and rooms were available but everytime it redirected me to book there was nothing available.

    There are so many easy changes they could make that would make their POS website usable. For example, instead of refocusing the map one you scroll down to a hotel, put ALL the hotels with their corresponding number on the list shown on the map at the same time.

    I should be able to sort by availability AND then something else. Whatever happened to searching a certain radius around the hotel? I could go on but you get the picture. What a total crappy redesign. It wasn’t great before but at least it WAS usable. Not is just better looking useless pile of you know what.

    I could careless about the color coding of the hotels on the map. Do I have time to remember that blue is HIE and green is HI. Shouldn’t it have actually been the other way.

    It is so obvious they didn’t have real users actual do any user acceptance of the junk they rolled out. Did they actually ask people like me who spend hundreds of nights a year in their hotels how they can make our lives easier when booking?

    I have to book about 40 days of travel in about 8 different cities for in the next 2 months. There is no way I am going to suffer through this abomination of a website to focus in on where I need to book to be close to my work. Looks like it is back to either Marriott or Hilton at this point.

  14. The new website is horrible. If they wish to introduce new features it should be done gradually. Not remove features and move everything around.

    Back on piste. The Rewards Breaks has become a bit of a non-event for us in Oceania in recent years. I can’t remember when we were even featured. It has become a bit of a mixed bag in other countries, mid-tier hotels in out of the way places.
    Elite status certainly has become devalued in recent years. Probably because every Tom, Dick and Harry has it through the IHG Credit Card or Ambassador status.
    “A room at a higher level”. Wow!

    That said, I have found IHG Rewards far superior to others I have tried in terms of Reward Night Availability overall, and crediting points due.

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