Rocketmiles vs Kaligo vs PointsHound (Part 2) – Hotel Price Comparisons

Hilton Barbados Resort

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This is the second in a six-part series in which I’m taking a closer look a the 3 big “miles for hotel stays” websites.

Part 1 – A look at the choice and quality of loyalty programs offered and a look at the selection of hotels available on the sites.

Part 2 – A look at the prices the sites are offering.

Part 3 – A look at mileage earning opportunities – USA Centric Analysis

Part 4 – A look at mileage earning opportunities – UK Centric Analysis

Part 5 – A look at what miles you should be electing to earn

Part 6 – A look at other benefits offered, positives/negatives to using these sites & a summary of the findings with conclusions.


Rocketmiles v Kaligo x PointsHound

What are Rocketmiles, Kaligo and PointsHound?

These are hotel booking sites sites which allow you to earn miles, in a variety of loyalty programs (predominantly airline loyalty programs), when you book hotel stays.

How do Rocketmiles, Kaligo and PointsHound compare on price?

In part one of this series I used four major cities and four major beach destinations to help look at the number of hotels and quality of hotels on offer across the three sites – I used the same cities and locations to compare the prices on offer.

To make the price comparisons worthwhile I had to make sure that all three sites offered the same hotel so, while the hotel selections were made at random, I ignored any that weren’t found across all three sites.

Notes:

  1. Cities/Locations used were Rome, London, Tokyo, New York, Aruba, Phuket, Maui and Barbados.
  2. The test was performed from the point of view of someone looking to get the lowest rate per night regardless of cancellation conditions. Where a rate offered was non-cancellable it is notated it with an *.
  3. Green prices indicate the lowest rate per night.
  4. All prices include taxes.
  5. Prices do not include resort frees or other fees payable at the hotel.
  6. Where a price is shown as being refundable it is refundable up until 3 weeks before check-in or better.
  7. Identical dates were used for all bookings
  8. Room types were matched as best as possible – there were no significant differences.

Results (click to enlarge):

Kaligo Rocketmiles PointsHound price comparisonOut of 24 properties tested this is how the sites compared for the lowest rates:

  • PointsHound – 13 hotels at the lowest rate
  • Kaligo – 7 hotels at the lowest rate
  • Rocketmiles – 4 hotels at the lowest rate

There were some big variations in price and anyone who doesn’t shop around a lot would do well to take note:

  • The average price difference between the best rate and the second best rate was $22.99/night including tax.
  • The average price difference between the best rate and the worst rate was $63.23/night including tax.

Those are some big price differences!

I appreciate that some will point out that some of the price differences are down to one hotel offering a refundable rate and another a non-refundable rate – but that’s not as significant as you may think.

The biggest differences between the best rate and the second best rate came at the Langham London ( $144.70/night difference) and at the Occidental Grand Aruba ($93.50/night difference). In both cases the comparison was between two rates of the same type.

The biggest differences between the best rate and the worst rate came at the Langham London ($145.09/night difference), the Occidental Grand Aruba ($288.33/night difference) and the Avista Hideaway Resort in Phuket ($191.07/night difference). Out of these three, only the comparison between prices at the Avista Resort was a comparison between different rate types – adjusting for this still leaves the average price difference at $57.67/night.

Hilton Barbados Resort

The average price per night offered by the three sites across the hotels/resorts selected was:

  • PointsHound – $339.45
  • Rocketmiles – $347.69
  • Kaligo – $356.14

But those figures don’t tell the full story…..

Kaligo was the cheapest option for 7 out of the 24 resorts. In the 17 cases where Kaligo wasn’t the cheapest option it was, on average, $52.50/night more expensive than the cheapest option.

Rocketmiles turned out to be the cheapest option for just 4 out of the 24 resorts and, in the 20 cases where there was a cheaper option, Rocketmiles was, on average, $34.40/night more expensive than that option.

Where PointsHound wasn’t the cheapest (10 hotels) it was, on average $20.19/night more expensive than the cheapest option. (I have removed the outlier in the data – Occidental Grand Aruba – as that skews the results to give an unfair picture of what the test showed).

These results are quite interesting when taken in conjunction with the results from Part 1:

  • Rocketmiles has the most loyalty programs and the most useful loyalty programs but the price you pay for that is that it was only the cheapest option (of the 3 sites) 17% of the time (in this test).
  • Kaligo offers the most hotels but, price-wise it’s often considerably more expensive than the cheaper of the other two competitors.
  • PointHound showed itself to have the best quality hotels in Part 1 of this review so it was a surprise to find that it was also, quite regularly, the cheapest option of the 3.

PointsHound provided 13 of the cheapest nightly rates out of the 24 hotels selected and has the lowest average price/night so it should probably be the first port of call (out of these 3 sites) for anyone shopping purely on price.

WINNER – PointsHound
Second: Kaligo
Third: Rocketmiles

The price comparison doesn’t end there. So far I’ve looked at how Rocketmiles, Kaligo and PointsHound match up against each other but how do they match up against an Online Travel Agency (OTA)?

How do Rocketmiles, Kaligo and PointsHound compare to Expedia?

Just like with all my other selections, I chose Expedia at random from the well known OTAs. As far as I can work out Expedia doesn’t own any of these 3 sites so the comparison should be valid.

I compared the same hotels (used in the original price comparison test) with prices on Expedia.com and these were the results:

(Click to enlarge)

price-comparison-inc-expedia

Out of 24 properties tested this is how the sites compared for the lowest rates:

  • Expedia – 12 hotels at the lowest or joint lowest rate
  • PointsHound – 7 hotels at the lowest or joint lowest rate
  • Kaligo – 6 hotels at the lowest rate
  • Rocketmiles – 3 hotels at the lowest rate

(Realistically, both Expedia and PointsHound could have had one more hotel added to their totals as, in one instance, they were both only 1 cent/night more expensive than the cheapest hotel).

In total there were 14 hotels at which there was less than a $5/night difference between Expedia and the lowest rate available on one of Rocketmiles, Kaligo or PointsHound.

To be honest I was quite surprised by these results – I expected Expedia to be cheaper for more of the hotels and I expected the difference in prices to be greater as well.

In the case of the 8 hotels for which Expedia had the stand-alone cheapest price, the average difference between Expedia’s price and the cheapest price offered by one of the three miles-earnig sites was just $6.34/night.

Expedia

The other surprise was to see just how closely aligned Expedia’s prices were with the prices quoted by PointsHound – they matched exactly in 8 instances and were within $5 of each other in 7 further instances. Their prices were so closely aligned that I rechecked to see if they were on and the same company. They don’t appear to be – PointsHound is owned by Points.com and I couldn’t see any reference to Expedia owning them.

The main takeaway from this test is that if you’re booking a hotel purely based on cheapest price available it’s not a foregone conclusion that an OTA will beat all three of the miles/point earning sites. And that’s not something I was expecting to be typing before I did these tests.

Clearly the sample sizes I’m using are not exactly statistically significant so it’s hard to extrapolate based purely on these results. Nevertheless they definitely give pause for thought – the next time I’m shopping for a hotel purely on price I won’t be so quick to ignore the likes of Rocketmiles, Kaligo and PointsHound.

Results so far:

  • Number of loyalty programs – Rocketmiles
  • Quality of loyalty programs offered – Rocketmiles
  • Number of hotels offered – Kaligo
  • Quality of hotels offered – PointsHound
  • Prices of hotels offered – PointsHound

Look out for part 3 of this series in which I take a look at the mileage earning opportunities from a US centric point of view – looking at earning miles in American’s, Alaska’s and United’s loyalty programs.