Radisson outlines new loyalty program, award chart changes
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Earlier this month, we reported on major Radisson Rewards changes. This included Radisson splitting its existing Radisson Rewards loyalty program into Radisson Rewards Americas and Radisson Rewards. At the time of reporting, however, a lot was still unclear, especially regarding how this change would impact elite status and points redemption.
TPG spoke with the Radisson team briefly regarding these changes to clarify how the program will change in the coming months. Here, I’ll bring you through everything we know so far about the new Radisson Rewards Americas program and how it will change your loyalty experience.
Let’s dive in.
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Radisson is splitting its loyalty program into two
Radisson will split its Radisson Rewards loyalty program into two separate programs: Radisson Rewards Americas and Radisson Rewards.
Those residing in North, Central and South America will have their Radisson Rewards accounts automatically converted into Radisson Rewards Americas accounts on June 17, 2021. This program will be separate from the broader Radisson Rewards program representing Radisson hotels in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.
The reason behind these changes is likely to remain in compliance with changing U.S. regulations. Radisson was acquired by HNA Group and later sold to Jin Jiang International — a company controlled by the Chinese government. The U.S. no longer allows the Chinese government to access certain types of information for U.S. customers. In turn, splitting the loyalty program in two may align Radisson with these new regulations.
This split will have a real impact on how Radisson Rewards members in the Americas use the Radisson loyalty program.
You can status match between programs
Radisson Rewards Americas members will keep their existing Radisson elite status. They can also set up a standard Radisson Rewards account for stays outside the Americas region and call Radisson for a status match for any of the three Radisson elite status tiers. Unfortunately, there is not a way to do this match online.
In other words: if a Radisson Rewards Americas member has Gold elite status via the cobranded Radisson credit card or otherwise, their Radisson Rewards account will also be eligible for Gold status. They’ll just need to call for a status match.
Related: Guide to Radisson Rewards
Future elite nights will only be earned in one program
Unfortunately, going forward, elite nights earned in Radisson Rewards Americas or the international Radisson Rewards program will not count toward status in the other program. So if you have a Radisson stay in Paris, you’ll only earn elite nights in the international Radisson Rewards program.
Unless this changes at some point, it will make it more difficult to earn Radisson Rewards status under the new programs. I think this is especially detrimental for frequent travelers who spend nights at Radisson properties in the Americas and elsewhere in the world, as they’ll need to ensure that one of their two accounts has enough nights to requalify for status. However, having the credit card will continue to be an easy way to retain Gold status in each program, though you may have to call each year to do the match.
Points transfer 1:1 between the two programs
You can only redeem points in either Radisson loyalty program for nights in its respective jurisdiction.
This means you can’t redeem points in your Radisson Rewards Americas account for a stay in Dubai. Thankfully, Radisson said it will introduce a “Global Points Transfer” tool in June that will allow members to transfer points between Radisson Rewards Americas and Radisson Rewards at a 1:1 ratio at no cost.
This is a nice workaround, but it may be confusing for the vast majority of members. It’s an extra step that Radisson members will need to take before they can redeem their hard-earned points for an award night outside of their locale.
New award chart
Radisson Rewards Americas has a new award chart and there will be winners and losers with this coming change.
The simpler award chart will offer just five different award categories, down from the current seven tiers. Standard room award nights will start at 15,000 points per night — up from the previous 9,000 points per night — and go as high at 75,000 points per night, up from the current 70,000 point ceiling. Radisson has told TPG that roughly 30% of properties will decrease in price because of this change.
That said, this is a double-edged sword.
Nights that used to cost 9,000 points per night at the entry-level tier will now cost 15,000 points per night. This is a substantial jump for lower-end properties like Country Inn & Suites, where the cash rate is already low. In some cases, you’re now better off paying cash for these nights instead of spending more points.
We don’t have Radisson’s full award chart available to us at the time of writing, so we’ll update you in a future article with an in-depth dive into these award chart changes. But, it’s safe to assume that most properties at the current top tier will cost 5,000 points more with the new highest category amount.
RewardSaver awards will let you save points on some nights
Some good news amidst all the change is that there will be a new RewardsSaver program. These awards will offer a 30% discount on awards at specific properties around the Americas. This will be available for standard, premium, and points + cash redemption rates, and we’ve been assured that RewardSaver will only discount stays.
In other words, Radisson says this is just the good side of dynamic pricing and award rates can only get lower on certain dates, but won’t go higher than the award chart.
Radisson hasn’t disclosed exactly how it will select RewardSaver awards, other than to say it will be in some way tied to demand. So if a specific hotel has low demand on a given set of dates, you may start to see RewardSaver pricing to fill otherwise unsold rooms. TPG was also told by Radisson that every hotel in the Americas will have these discounted awards available at some point, but that some may have more scarce availability than others.
RewardSaver will be exclusive to Radisson Rewards Americas at launch. Radisson anticipates that the broader Radisson Rewards program will see RewardsSaver sometime in 2022.
All in all, these changes are a mixed bag. Radisson splitting its program in two will lead to massive confusion among Radisson Rewards members and require extra work for global travelers. On the one hand, I understand that Radisson needs to comply with U.S. regulations on China to continue operating a loyalty program within the U.S. That said, this seems like a very confusing route to take — especially for elite members.
For those who travel abroad frequently, splitting elite status qualifications between Radisson Rewards Americas and Radisson Rewards is a huge disappointment. It will now be harder for these members to achieve their elite status tier as they must earn enough rewards nights in one of the two programs to requalify.
On the other hand, the new award chart will benefit some and hurt others.
Those who frequently redeem for mid-and top-tier hotels may see some of their favorite properties go down in price under the new award chart. Those who redeem for budget properties may end up with higher redemption rates. There will be a few winners in the middle. If you suspect the hotel you’re interested in may go up in points, you have until June 17, 2021, to redeem at the old rates. In light of devaluations and a trend toward dynamic pricing in 2021, we are glad to see Radisson is retaining an award chart and not introducing an even-pricier peak demand pricing tier.
The one change that’s positive for everyone, however, is RewardSaver nights.
These awards essentially introduce the best part of dynamic pricing — lower-cost hotel rooms — without the negatives. I hope we see widespread RewardSaver awards in popular destinations that are actually useful for members. Stay tuned to TPG for a full analysis when RewardsSaver awards are live.
Feature photo by Julia Minakova / Shutterstock.com
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