Home Hotel Loyalty Marriott Bonvoy Marriott Bonvoy dynamic pricing is yielding some unexpected results

Marriott Bonvoy dynamic pricing is yielding some unexpected results


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Over the past few days, the Marriott Bonvoy program has moved over to a dynamic pricing model for award bookings, and while some of the results of that move are far from unexpected, some of the things that I’m seeing are a little surprising.

The day before Bonvoy was set to introduce its dynamic awards, I checked and noted down the cash rate and the cost of an award night at 32 Marriott properties around the world on randomly selected dates, and once the dynamic prices were live (yesterday), I rechecked all of those rates and noted any changes.

Within my sample of 32, I included 11 properties from the list of properties that Marriott said would see significant changes in the cost of their award nights and 21 other properties that I thought would be interesting to watch.

Of the 11 properties that we were told could see significant changes to the cost of an award night…

  • All 11 saw the cost of my randomly selected award night rise.
  • The number of points needed for the award night increased by between 7,500 and 22,000 points
  • The increase of 22,000 points represents a 31.4% increase on the rate available before dynamic pricing was introduced
  • The average increase in the cost of the award night was a little under 17,000 points
  • The average percentage increase was approximately 25%

Also, before dynamic pricing was introduced, using points instead of cash at these properties would have seen Bonvoy members getting between 0.57 and 3.70 cents in value for every Bonvoy point used with 6 out of the 11 properties offering Bonvoy members the opportunity to get more than a penny per point.

Following the introduction of dynamic pricing, using points instead of cash at these properties will see Bonvoy members getting between 0.44 and 3.10 cents in value (on the randomly selected dates) for every Bonvoy point used with 5 out of the 11 properties offering Bonvoy members the opportunity to get more than a penny per point.

Here’s the table of results from which the information above has been gathered (click or tap to enlarge):

Most of this is unsurprising. We knew that these properties would be costing a lot more once dynamic pricing kicked in and that’s exactly how things have turned out – it’s horrendous but there’s not much we can do about it.

What is, however, a little surprising is that following the introduction of dynamic pricing, the value that people can get out of their Bonvoy points hasn’t been decimated.

Yes, the value that you can get out for each point at these properties has decreased, but the fact that you can still get over a penny per point in value at 5 out of the 11 properties and the fact that you can get over 0.6 cents/point in value at 9 out of the 11 properties is surprising.

I’m aware that the sample size that I’m using is not statistically significant and that this sample is biased towards high-end properties, but these are still interesting things to note. They show that at least in some cases, it should be possible to continue getting reasonable value out of Marriott Bonvoy Points at high-end properties despite the introduction of chart-busting dynamic pricing.

If you had told me a few days ago that once dynamic pricing was in effect that we’d be able to book the St Regis New York for 103,000 points on a night where the lowest cash rate (including taxes) is $1,037, or that we would be able to book the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert for 85,000 points when the lowest cash rate (including taxes) is ~$1,084 I would have laughed in your face and I would now be apologizing profusely.

Of the remaining 21 properties in my overall sample…

  • 14 properties have seen the cost of the randomly selected award night decrease.
  • Only 4 properties have seen an increase in the cost of the award night.
  • 6 of the 14 properties at which the award night now costs less have seen the cost of the night drop by 5,000 points or more.
  • At the 14 properties at which the cost of the award night has decreased, the cost has gone down by between 1.4% and 13.3%
  • In the 4 properties at which the award night now costs more, the increases range between 4,000 and 6,000 points
  • At the 4 properties at which the cost of the award night has increased, the cost has gone up by between 7.1% and 10.0%

Also, before dynamic pricing was introduced, using points instead of cash at these 21 properties would have seen Bonvoy members getting between 0.45 and 1.26 cents in value for every Bonvoy point used, and 6 out of the 11 properties were offering Bonvoy members the opportunity to get more than a penny per point in value.

Following the introduction of dynamic pricing, using points instead of cash at these properties (on the randomly selected dates) will see Bonvoy members getting between 0.51 and 1.26 cents in value for every Bonvoy point used with 6 out of the 21 properties continuing to offer Bonvoy members the opportunity to get more than a penny per point in value.

Here’s the table of results from which the information above has been gathered (click or tap to enlarge):

This is where I think the biggest surprises are to be found.

Sure, before dynamic pricing kicked in, we knew that these properties wouldn’t see the cost of award nights change significantly in 2022 (that will probably come in 2023) but I can’t have been the only one who expected these properties to explore the boundaries of what they’re, apparently, now allowed to do.

Marriott has said that, in 2022, none of these properties will charge more for an award night than they were charging under the old award chart system but I was still expecting them to increase the cost of an award night to the maximum allowable on days when the cash rates are high…but that doesn’t seem to have happened (so far).

  • Since I first checked rates, the cash rate at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles LA Live has increased by $11 but the cost of an award night on the same date has actually decreased by 9,000 points. On a night that the property is charging $785 (including taxes) for an entry-level room, it’s still prepared to offer awards at 91,000 points.
  • The cash rate at the Wellesley Knightsbridge in London hasn’t changed from the $876 it was charging a couple of days ago but the cost of an award on the same night now costs 1,500 points less than it did before dynamic pricing was introduced.
  • The cash rate at the Prince Gallery Tokyo hasn’t changed either (it’s still at $378) but the cost of an award on the same night now costs 10,500 points less than it did before dynamic pricing was introduced.

I realize that it’s far too early to jump to conclusions and that the sample size I’m using is not statistically significant, but it surprises me just how easy it still is to get over a penny in value out of every Bonvoy point employed.

I haven’t valued Bonvoy Points at over 0.6 cents each for some time and I was expecting to have to revise that number downwards following the introduction of dynamic pricing. That may still have to happen when whatever horrors Marriott has waiting for us in 2023 are unleashed but while I’m seeing 15 out 21 sampled properties allowing me to get over 0.75 cents in value out of every Bonvoy Point I use, I’m not going to rush to downvalue the currency.

Bottom line

I was fully expecting to see Marriott use the introduction of dynamic award pricing to try to standardize the value of a Bonvoy point and to see that value set at somewhere between 0.5 and 0.6 cents, but that doesn’t appear to be happening just yet.

It may happen next year or it may happen whenever the overly-high cash rates that we’re currently seeing drop down to something resembling pre-pandemic normality, but so far we seem safe.

The properties that Marriott told us would become significantly more expensive to book with points are now, unsurprisingly, significantly more expensive to book with points so I’m not trying to say that everything is great and beautiful in the Bonvoy world. Far from it.

It is, however, nice to see that the first stage of the introduction of dynamic award prices hasn’t completely wiped out the value of our Bonvoy balances just yet and that there continue to be properties at which a booking made with Bonvoy Points can save travelers a significant amount of money.

Am I happy that some of the top-end and highly aspirational properties can now charge up to 30,000 points per night more than they did just a few days ago? Am I happy that a property at which I could book two nights with two 50k certificates on Monday is now charging 60,000 points per night for the same nights? No, of course not. I hate that Marriott has done this.

But as much as I hate the introduction of dynamic awards than the elimination of award charts, it would be unfair of me not to also say that I’m happy (and more than a little surprised) to see that not all hope appears to be lost…at least not yet 😁

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1 COMMENT

  1. I made 9 bookings the day before the dynamic pricing came in and went back today to see what had happened. I was shocked to see all except one had decreased in price (so naturally rebooked them all). My biggest decrease was a massive 20k points on a one night weekend stay at the Westin Sarasota in May which came as a huge surprise.

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