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Ed Pizza: What'd you get for Easter, Mr. Kerr?

Richard Kerr: Hilton, it's bit me in the hinedinger a few times as well because it's not guaranteed, so, yep, not a fan of that.

Ed Pizza: There you go, folks, hinedinger again on The Miles to Go Podcast.
Either next week or the week after, strategerizing how that might affect folks picking up, actually.

Richard Kerr: It's a word.

Ed Pizza: It is. Hey, a president said it. It must be a word.

Announcer: Climb aboard. This is The Miles to Go Podcast, your source for the latest in travel news, reviews and strategies you can't afford to miss. And now, here's your host, travel expert and road warrior, Ed Pizza.

Ed Pizza: Hey guys, welcome back to The Miles to Go Podcast. Mr. Kerr and I are recording on Easter Sunday, which means that I've eaten way too much chocolate this morning before recording. Richard, did you color some eggs this morning yet?

Richard Kerr: No, we had the scavenger hunt to find the Easter baskets, is what we do here, so the Easter Bunny was up late last night making clues and hiding them. Then, the kids wake up and find the baskets, so only gummies for me this morning from Mrs. Easter Bunny, no chocolate this way.

Ed Pizza: Oh yeah inaudible and then our buddy Summer sent some pictures this morning of the raccoons that got her eggs, which I think was-

Richard Kerr: Hilarious, yeah. That's an amateur mistake for somebody that's got a 12-year-old. You can't hide them the night before. You can't leave it outside.

Ed Pizza: No, I feel like she brought weaksauce to the game. We learned very, very early on when a raccoon ate a $10 bill out of one of the eggs that we hid outside ... or maybe it was a $5 bill back then because it was a long time ago. So, we got the new IHG One to discuss today, IHG One Rewards, sorry. IHG has announced a big redo of their program. We've got a listener question, may try to squeeze in my summer travel just depending on how long it takes us to go through the IHG stuff. But, I do want to also touch a bit on my spring break trip and a little bit more on hearing what else broke on your camper. We did 30A, which I learned about from our buddy Summer, and I think you were down there with her, weren't you?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, Alton area. I've been there a couple times because it's just a four-and-a-half drive from home and Summer has that suite, Marriott Homes & Villas, which I think is what you did as well down in the area.

Ed Pizza: We did. This is the panhandle of Florida. We flew into ECP, which is Northwest Florida International Airport. I don't know what their international is, maybe Bahamas.

Richard Kerr: They just put it on there.

Ed Pizza: Maybe Scoop or one of those Canadian discount carriers flies in there, but yeah, I was pretty impressed. I'm not a big home rental guy. We did the Outer Banks thing a few times with Michelle's parents a long time ago, and, traffic and all that, it was just a pain in the butt. I would say that, with a nonstop flight from DCA to ECP, picking up the rental car and driving to our rental house, it took less time than driving to the Outer Banks from here with all the traffic, so that was a win. I missed a Marriott Homes & Villas double points promo by a few days, unfortunately. It was announced not long after I had booked and confirmed, but I liked the area a lot. I'd probably choose a different beach next time. We were in Seacrest Beach, which is sort of in between Rosemary Beach and Santa Rosa. I think we'd probably be down the Grayton Beach area, kind of seemed more our jam after we drove around down there. But oh my gosh, the difference in the beaches was off the charts.

Richard Kerr: It's a really cool spot. If you've never gone down there and gotten a beach house or a condo, I highly recommend it. It's just the white sandy beaches. If you've got little ones, there's no really crazy surf unless there's a massive storm out to sea. It's not like Pacific or Atlantic waves. It's just a really good spot. We've been going to that whole Gulf Coast Florida Panhandle, had a condo, Gulf Shores, Alabama, right there growing up and I love that area, really recommend people go check it out.

Ed Pizza: The most expensive beach and the one that does not fit in with all the others is a place called Alys Beach, A-L-Y-S, and it looks like Santorini. Everything's white.

Richard Kerr: Cash money!

Ed Pizza: Oh yeah, and the rates there were exorbitant, over $10,000 a week to rent a house. And so, we weren't going to do that, but we were not far away from there in Seacrast. So, I think we ended up paying more than we needed to to get a nice house. From the looks of it now, I thought Grayton Beach was, quote/unquote, "Too far away." Call it another 10 or 15 minutes from where we were, and probably could have stayed a couple hundred bucks a night getting a similar house. That being said, our house was unbelievable. I don't say that meaning off-the-charts amenities though it was well outfitted, the outdoor shower, six-person golf cart, all that stuff. But, it was in really great shape. I mean really great shape. Everything was new, well painted, almost nothing broken.
So, I was really pleased about that. The things just sort of worked. The Wi-Fi was great, all that stuff. Our house, as you said, was through Marriott Homes & Villas, but also through a pretty big rental company down there called Panhandle Getaways. They're the ones that manage it, so always great if you can book through something like a Marriott and pick up some points, but you also want to double check rates from the actual rental companies. I seem to remember our buddy Scott from TPG rented a Marriott Homes & Villas home, and, while it was cheaper on the rental site, I think he said he got a better cancellation policy through Marriott Homes & Villas, so, again, lots of details to think about there if you're going to book a rental home.

Richard Kerr: How many points do you earn from Marriott Homes & Villas per dollar? Is it 10?

Ed Pizza: That's a good question. Let's look it up while we're talking. I don't remember because I remember I confused because they announced that promo right after we booked for double points.

Richard Kerr: I should have looked up to see if Vacasa has any places you can rent down there with Wyndham Points. I bet you could find a spot down crosstalk

Ed Pizza: I would absolutely bet because there's so many rentals down there. There's just massive amounts.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, everybody here in the greater Atlanta area, if you got cash money, you can try and go find a spot in 30 days like the dream, and then you rent it out when you're not there for however many kajillions of dollars and let the thing pay for itself. The only problem with that is a little thing called hurricane system that can come, and a little thing called beachfront homeowners insurance that can really jack up your finances pretty quick.

Ed Pizza: Well, and that area's not super prone to hurricanes. Hurricanes that end up in The Gulf, at least from what I can recall are usually more in that Galveston, New Orleans area.

Richard Kerr: No, the reason we got rid of my condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama, which again, is right on the Florida/Alabama border is like, three seasons in a row, we got trounced by a hurricane. My parents were like, "Forget this, we're out."

Ed Pizza: Yeah, but again, I think once you're into Alabama, you're a solid two hours west of 30A. I'll have to look at the history of that. I don't think they've been hit in that 30A area too often by hurricanes, especially because most of the houses ... not most, but a lot of the houses weren't up on stilts and stuff like that, which is sort of table stakes for Miami and stuff like that.

Richard Kerr: Now you jinxed it. Sorry everybody in 30A.

Ed Pizza: We're going to talk a little bit about IHG One Rewards and the changes they made to the program, but I think this is one of those things where I also would say being a bit of a status-free agent really can help with vacation decisions like this because the Capital One Venture X card, which is something we've talked a lot about on the show, if I use the card correctly, if I'm booking my travel in the 10X category on their travel portal for hotels and stuff like that and using those points, I can pay for a cottage like this for a spring break trip out of pocket and then just wipe it away in the app with a quick swipe using my points up.
While I don't think that's a good value if you're using the card for the two points per dollar you earn for everyday purchases, because I can earn more on gas and groceries and stuff elsewhere, I think this vacation for us was one I was always hesitant to pull the trigger on because I didn't want to spend five grand on a house out of my own pocket. But, if I can earn 10 points per dollar on something like the Venture X and use it for something like this, that's a win for our family. It means that I'm able to turn my Marriott and IHG stays where I'm not seeking elite status into a cool vacation home for a week.

Richard Kerr: Yeah man, I think about it more and more. I just paid taxes that we owed last year and that minimum spend on a new Amex 150K welcome offer. Now I'm kind of like a free agent, so I go back to, "I don't really want to get anymore credit cards right now, so where is all the spend going to go?" I honestly think everyday non-bonus spend is either going to go on the Venture X, or I want to earn more American miles, and it's going to go on Bilt, or just have the flexibility to build. But, I think the ability to wipe away the travel is going to make Venture X really appealing to me for the next quarter.

Ed Pizza: That's interesting because I really don't like it for everyday spend because you're getting two points per dollar whereas the minimum I think you can earn elsewhere for gas and groceries is three.

Richard Kerr: But we got a lot of camping coming up this spring and summer and I want to wipe those. Those campsite fees, man, they just add up. I have a kajillion points and miles stored up from COVID still that I'm going to book some first-class, business-class flights this year, and it's not even going to put a dent in what I have. But, none of those, I can really use to cover the campsite fees, so I think it's going to have to be Venture X.

Ed Pizza: I think you bring up a really good point because I think balances play a huge, huge role. If you didn't have balances in those programs, the Americans, the Uniteds and some of the flexible currencies like Ultimate Rewards, do you think that would change your thinking on Venture X versus something else?

Richard Kerr: I think it's more the goals. That's what I always tell everybody. The number one question I get asked, "What credit card should I get?" It's like, literally, what are your goals? Are you looking to wipe away Camp Jellystone or KOA camping fees like the two other people in the points miles space are? Or, are you looking to go the [Malldi- 00:10:28]

Ed Pizza: Only one, I'm out, man, only one.

Richard Kerr: Or, are you looking for Malldi stuff? Literally, where do you want to go and what do you want to do? I think it's more goal-based than balance-based for me, personally. But, I'm doing ... Both of those play into effect right now for where the spend's going to go for the next quarter.

Ed Pizza: I think this goes back to the discussion that you and I have had where I got roasted a few weeks ago because I wasn't calling out what I thought the most valuable currency was. I really do agree with you. I wouldn't necessarily say it's all goal-based. I think the answer on the most valuable currency is it depends. Are you a traveling family of four or are you traveling as a single? Are you traveling two adults? As you said, what are my goals? How big are my balances? I think all of those things weigh into what you should be collecting. I'm lucky enough to have a ton of business spend, so that certainly helps me quite a bit. Being able to put points like this on the Venture X are easy for me. But then also, too, like I said, I'm not really putting a whole lot of everyday spend on it. I put some business spend on that doesn't have bonus categories, but I'm trying to hit it hard as possible on the 10X because I don't think it's as good a value at just the 2X.
I understand why it works for you. It doesn't work for me, and I would argue that, for a number of folks who have a lower total amount of spend on a yearly basis, think they should consider splitting up that spend and putting their travel on Venture X and putting the rest of it on something else, whatever that is. Chase Sapphire Preferred has a really high annual inaudible a really high signup bonus right now, and that's actually one of our listener questions that we're going to get to, which is probably a good transition.

Richard Kerr: Get that transition, you host, you.

Ed Pizza: It was smooth, wasn't it? And by the way, we do have a bunch of questions still in queue, but if you guys would like to send us a question, you can email us. always gets it done. You can text or leave us a voicemail at (571) 293-6659, and you can do the old Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I am @pizzamotion. He is @kerrpoints, and also on TikTok for him. Me, I'm still living in the cave of the non-TikTok world.

Richard Kerr: That would be the cave of Facebook if you're doing that.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, I do wander onto Facebook once in a while. So, Tyler, who's hit us up with listener questions before, has another one. Unfortunately, he's in this dilemma. He is one of our Cajun listeners from Louisiana, and we will be-

Richard Kerr: See you later this week.

Ed Pizza: Exactly. I'll be in Louisiana for the third time in a month this week hosting the Freddie Awards down in New Orleans. So, he applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and he got the 60,000 point bonus. And then, the new offer popped up with an 80,000 point bonus, which is a really solid bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, definitely one of the highest I've seen. I think it was at 100 at one point.

Richard Kerr: There's targeted offers for 100 now. If you go to your Chase account and do the explore-your-credit-journey, you might be targeted for the 100K offer crosstalk

Ed Pizza: And so, his question is can he get that elevated offer, 80K let's call it, by calling Chase being he just got approved? Or, as he says, "Is there no chance and I just have to live with it?" He's likely in that second bucket. I've heard of some folks getting exceptions. I'm sure you have as well.

Richard Kerr: Chase, no. Amex, back in the day, yes, but so far, no. I think, largely, these days, of getting matched to an offer that appeared after you've already gotten the card are gone. I can't think of any recent examples of people getting matched, so, unfortunately, I think you're out of luck. But back in the day, yeah, there were several times I asked Amex over chat, "Hey, can you apply this signup offer I'm still working on for me?" and they're like, "Yeah, sure," but no mas I don't think.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, and I think because the spend is the same on both, I feel like, when I've had exceptions or when I've heard of exceptions, it's been something like, "Earn 60,000 points with $4,000 in spend, or earn 100,000 points with 10,000 in spend," and so the credit card company said, "All right, well if you're willing to put more spend on it, we'll give you the higher signup bonus." So Tyler, I think, unfortunately, you are crosstalk Let's talk IH ... Oh, sorry, before we do that, real quick, we had a couple of reviews come in this week, one positive and one negative.

Richard Kerr: A negative review?

Ed Pizza: We always try to read everything that people send into us. Frenchie1161 says that this is one of the best points and miles podcasts out there. Ed and Richard are interesting, informative and so entertaining to listen to. I think I'm the interesting and informative one and you're the entertaining one.

Richard Kerr: Hey, I'll take that. That's the guy that gets the agent. Sign me up.

Ed Pizza: "I look forward to it every Wednesday," he says. And then, we got somebody who doesn't like right now. I'll paraphrase this. PointsDude doesn't like that we talk about the Milk card and thinks that I am being compensated in the shadows by the Bilt folks, including Mr. Kerr, who pays me lots and lots of money to say good things about him, as they say, lavish parties and trips. I love getting blamed for stuff that doesn't actually happen, but look, everybody's entitled to their opinion. I think the one thing I'd say here that I think is interesting is I would ... I haven't counted this. I'd probably have to take my shoes off to do it, but I'm pretty sure we've talked more on this podcast about the Capital One Venture X card than we have the Bilt Rewards card. I really think that the Venture X is more of a niche card because the only bonus categories are travel.
And so, for normal folks who are running gas and groceries and restaurants and then spend on travel, I don't think it's a really good card for them, and I think Bilt covers more of the everyday categories than say Capital One Venture X does. But, it's rewarding in a different way, and got better transfer partners, in my opinion. But, nobody's written into us and bitched about Capital One Venture X and all the times that we've talked about that, and I feel like I talk about it every episode because I really love the card right now. Yeah, not getting paid. So anyway, PointsDude, sounds like you're not a listener anymore, so you won't hear this, but we always talk about the good and the bad in the show. Quite frankly, I don't know. I don't understand why people are so upset about that, but people got their panties in a wad right now.

Richard Kerr: I didn't pay six figures for a homepage takeover for the Bilt card.

Ed Pizza: No, you really didn't.

Richard Kerr: Venture X did for everybody, but we won't talk about that.

Ed Pizza: I know, and there's a whole lot of IHG One Rewards partnerships out there right now, too.

Richard Kerr: There are.

Ed Pizza: And God bless them.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, interesting. My overall sentiment here, and I won't go into details, is, bravo, IHG. After years of, quite frankly, being an afterthought because your elite status program was so poor in benefits, this is a huge stride forward. Is it perfect? No. But, is it significantly better? Yeah, it sure is. So, the work done here, a long time coming. I cannot imagine the battles that IHG corporate had to have with their hoteliers to pay for this stuff or how they figured out these economics. But, bravo guys and gals. It's a big step forward here, IHG Rewards, One Rewards, IHG One.

Ed Pizza: IHG One Rewards, yeah, and I think there's some innovative stuff here that I like. And then, as you said, there's some stuff that I think we're going to have to wait and see. And then, there's some stuff that I think that there's just going to be continuous battles with properties.

Richard Kerr: "Upon availability."

Ed Pizza: Yes, I hate those words. So, at a high level, probably the biggest thing that changes is they've squeezed in another tier, and so you've got tiers at 10 nights, 20 nights, 40 nights and 70 nights. And, there's some point totals that go along with those, but 70 nights for a top tier is pretty achievable in IHG world because they've got, gosh, I want to say almost 7,000 hotels. They're pretty sizeable.

Richard Kerr: Yep.

Ed Pizza: And, they've got a bunch of limited service brands, so I think hitting 70 nights would be pretty easy. I think hitting the points totals, I have to sit down and really look at that just because I know different brands are in different points and you've got some fairly low rates in some of those hotels. But, I don't think it'd be hard to hit 70 nights. So, hitting top tier in IHG One Rewards, definitely achievable. I had their top tier for a couple of years when it was called Spire, but mostly because I had transferred some points from, I guess, Chase Ultimate Rewards. Those points transfers counted towards elite status, and so I can't say I got a whole lot of great benefits. I did have a couple of properties that worked with me on getting connecting rooms for the family and stuff like that. But so, top-tier status, definitely achievable. They go the path of Hyatt and roll out milestone rewards.
So, if you're just getting status based on points, so like a big convention or something that you host, you're not going to get some of the most valuable benefits that they have to offer. I think, obviously, we have to wait and see. But obviously, I think one of the big things I look at here, especially because of the love that you and I have for the folks at Hyatt is that IHG is going down the path of offering up confirmed suite upgrades. Now, not all confirmed suite upgrades are created equally.

Richard Kerr: Asterisk, asterisk, yeah.

Ed Pizza: But, you can request confirmed suite upgrades as a milestone reward after only 20 nights, which I think is a really nice, accessible tier for that.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, so the details on confirmable suite rates, you have to wait until you're 14 days out from your stay start. So, you can't request til 14 days.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, total nonstarter for me, but go ahead.

Richard Kerr: 14 days before and each one is good for five nights, which, hey, great. Marriott suite upgrade rewards are good for one night and Hyatt's good for seven, so that's kind of the detail. But yeah, if I'm like you and I'm planning a family vacation and I got to have that extra space and I'm counting on a suite, 14 days before arrival is no good. And also, there's no details as far as I can find to say which suites are eligible and what kinds of games, properties you're going to play with this. So, I think it's unique and cool at 20 nights, but 14 days before, with a family, again, that would be a nice bonus, but I'm not going to plan a vacation around that.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, that's the thing, definitely hard to plan around it. I was reading a post from Gary, View from the Wing, and that sent me down a rabbit hole on their Ts and Cs. There are some asterisks on this one in terms of certain peak demand times that the property can substitute in, a premium room versus a suite.

Richard Kerr: Oh, yeah, nope. Okay, I didn't see that.

Ed Pizza: Then, there are some properties that have premium suites, and premium suites don't have to be eligible, which is similar to the Hyatt. But apparently, properties can designate suites premium suites, and so they don't have to have any standards. I think that's where Hyatt really differentiates themselves with that benefit, is that almost every property has some level of a standard suite and some level of a premium suite, and you understand that there's a difference between those two and what you can and can't get, but I see lots of standard suite availability across Hyatt. And so, I think this is great for the road warrior guy or gal who travels solo or with a companion because then, you're going to get a room and score an upgrade two weeks ahead of time. You know, that's awesome, going to Hawaii or Asia or some cool place. There's some great Asian IHG properties, some great European IHG properties, but as you said, for a family, it would be tough for me to rely on the hope that I'm going to have extra space to book one of these.

Richard Kerr: Are there any brand exclusions like there are for some of the other benefits for suite upgrades?

Ed Pizza: There are, but they're not brands like you'd expect to get them at anyway. The Vegas properties are excluded, so Venetian and Palazzo. The vacation properties are excluded, and there are a couple others I don't remember, Six Senses Resorts and Spa.

Richard Kerr: Oh, so the luxury brands are excluded.

Ed Pizza: Not all the luxury brands, no. Intercontinental is not excluded. I think that's going to be a great one for oversees. If I was going to get these, that's where I'd be focusing. I don't know if there's any US properties that I really want to use an upgrade at for IHG, maybe a handful of InterCons, but that's about it. Overseas, I think there are tons of them that these would be great at.

Richard Kerr: Sticking on milestone rewards, it starts at 20 and every 10 nights all the way up to 100. The milestone rewards after 70 nights where you achieve diamond status, pretty weak, in my opinion, 10,000 points or five food and beverage credits. That certainly doesn't entice me to stay more than 70 nights at all. I think they got to do some work there. I think our buddy Jeff Zydel was a lead consultant on this project, if I'm not mistaken, and we can see his fingerprints from Hyatt all over this.

Ed Pizza: It smells a little bit like Jeff, doesn't it?

Richard Kerr: It does, yeah because he has fingerprints all over this. Again, really, I was in IHG's offices here in Atlanta two weeks ago. They are a transfer partner with Bilt. We were talking not about this new program. I tried my darnedest to get some insider intel and they wouldn't leak it to me, but I could tell that they worked very hard on this and they were very excited. Again, props for the improvements on this as well as ... I still have the IHG premier card and now the uncap free nights and the other benefits they made to that, $25 United credit. There's a lot of goodness in IHG right now and I'm glad that they finally, from what I understand, figured this out with their hotel owners who are always roadblocked to this and not wanting to pay for any of these benefits.

Ed Pizza: Yeah for sure, and I do want to dig into the credit card in another episode because I want to talk about where it fits in with the other hotel credit cards. But, I think there's also a couple other benefits that I really like on the horizon here for where our One Rewards is going and sort of bucking some of the recent trends. So, free hot breakfast for diamond members, diamond being their new top tier which replaces Spire, I think that's a really strong benefit, especially with built-in ... being in this land of giving you just a credit. And then Marriott, we know where Marriott stands on breakfast. We know that they don't stand for breakfast, so I think that this is a really strong breakfast benefit comparatively, and I think it puts them in second place for offering breakfast to top-tier elites.
Behind Hyatt, I couldn't find any sort of really good detail on how this is going to be implemented. So for example, some Hyatt properties, it's essentially unlimited. Others, the terms and condition are defined as two adults and two children, and so I couldn't find that. It doesn't mean it's not in there, but I couldn't find that in the Ts and Cs to really get a sense of what they're going to offer for that breakfast benefit. But, it seems like it's going to be a pretty huge upgrade.

Richard Kerr: The points guy calls out that it is for two guests and excluded at InterCon, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Six Senses. However, most Six Senses include breakfast. And then, if you stay at a Holiday Inn, kids eat free, so that could be four free for breakfast. But, it is hot breakfast, so none of this continental and then upcharge you junk, Hilton. I cannot stand that.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, are you sure it excludes InterCon? I thought it included it, but it didn't include the Intercontinental Alliance properties, which is considered Venetian Palazzo crosstalk

Richard Kerr: Okay, no, you're right. It is called the Intercontinental Alliance hotels excluded.

Ed Pizza: I think that's one of the bigger parts of this breakfast because InterCon breakfasts are probably the priciest out there. Two adults, two kids, I think focus on properties where kids eat free when an adult pays, and this is a great benefit for you.

Richard Kerr: 70 nights to get that, man, that's a lot. That's a lot of other places you're giving up. But, if the hotels meet your needs, then go for it, right?

Ed Pizza: Yeah, I think this squarely fits into the quote/unquote, "Road warrior," not business traveler, the person who's doing road travel in the US, traveling salesperson. This is right up their alley because there's going to be a Holiday Inn Express in every town that they can stay.

Richard Kerr: They already give free breakfast, right? That's kind of my ... IHG properties like that, there's been plenty of, "I need one-night airport hotel," or we're somewhere on the road and we find ... Holiday Inn Express is baller. We stayed there on a few RV trips where we just transited somewhere and I'm not setting the RV up. They're great, but I'm not spending 70 nights a year in a Holiday Inn Express.

Ed Pizza: No, but I know a number of folks like in the food service industry who are dealer reps for equipment, and they have a territory that covers five, six, seven states, and so they'll fly into Denver and they'll drive from Denver to Utah, Utah to vegas, vegas down to Santa Fe.

Richard Kerr: Woo, can't be doing all that, man.

Ed Pizza: Exactly, but somebody like that, they're going to catch a lot of these sorts of properties, and they've got that choice between say ... I think this is where Hilton is probably strongest, and then IHG and Marriott are also fairly strong, is that driving road warrior. It would be easy for one of those folks to amass 70 nights. As I say, I do want to dig in a bit to the credit cards when we get a chance to talk about that and how those can help accelerate status. But, I think there's one other benefit that really stuck out to me in terms of ... Again, I'm focusing on top-tier right now because I think ... Well, first off, I think most of the low to mid-tier hotel status are generally not worth what you're investing.
Again, that's where Capital One Venture X starts to come in. If you're going to spend 10 or 20 nights at a chain, I'd just assume say credit them all to Venture X. But, once you get up into platinum, which is 40 nights and diamond, which is 70 nights, IHG has rolled out this benefit of reward night discounts. We don't have a ton of details on how this is all going to come together, but they're essentially saying they're going to be offering a discount, which seems like it's going to be 20% on a consistent basis to their top-tier elites. This is similar to Hyatt. Then, Hyatt offers this benefit pretty much every year to all elites who hold a credit card with them. But here, what IHG is saying is, "You don't even need to hold one of our credit cards. If you're a top-tier status member, then you're going to get a discount on rewards stays," which I think is a really big benefit

Richard Kerr: I agree, especially the number of points that some top-tier IHG properties cost. You got 100,000 night InterCon in Tahiti or somewhere like that and now it's 80,000, that's significant savings, right? And, if you're a platinum or a diamond member, you're going to have a lot of points, so you'll be able to cover those stays. I think it's unique. I think it's great, and again, I just see the Hyatt hand prints all over this.

Ed Pizza: Exactly. There are some fingerprints all over these sorts of unique things that make people think. I think that those sorts of benefits like surprise and delight sort of things are what keep people on the hamster wheel because you can switch your hotel status without a lot of effort when you talk about credit cards and giving you a headstart on status and stuff like that that, especially if you're not top tier. And so, these sort of surprising lights I think really engage well with members. I hear lots of things about those sorts of benefits. That Hyatt promo is something that people really love. I think these milestone rewards for IHG are going to be really popular. If I had to point to things, I've got two things that I think are negatives on the program, and so I'll be curious to see if they're the same for you. The first one for me is the fact that late checkout is not a guaranteed benefit.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, it's got to be guaranteed for top tier. That's come in clutch so many times, 4:00PM guaranteed checkout. At Hilton, it's bit me in the hinedinger a few times as well because it's not guaranteed, so yep, not a fan of that.

Ed Pizza: There you go, folks, hinedinger again on The Miles to Go Podcast. That's a word I will never say unless I'm repeating Mr. Kerr saying it.

Richard Kerr: I've already said britches this morning three times, too, to Mary.

Ed Pizza: So there, you've got the benefit as described is a 2:00PM late checkout subject to availability. God knows that subject to availability thing just drives me up a wall. 2:00PM is not horrible. I would say if 2:00PM was a guaranteed late checkout, I would say the number of times I really need 4:00PM versus 2:00PM are small just because, every once in a while, I'll need the 4:00PM. But, really honestly, what I need is something later than noon, if you will. So, if they made 2:00PM guaranteed, I'd feel really good about this. That, it gives me some pause ... same thing about early check-in benefits are subject to availability.
And then, the other thing that really stuck out to me, again, I understand that this would have been a really hard sell to the properties. I feel like back in the day when I worked in the hotel industry, we had some IHG properties under our management and they were some ... It would surprise me if it was easy for IHG to enforce things like this in the franchise agreements, but being able to waive a bunch of the fees like Hyatt and Hilton and even, to some degree, Wyndham do, resort fees, parking, things like that that, I think that would have been something that I think is really a soft cost for the properties. It would have been an easy give for them to really add some value to these top-tier top elite tiers. Even if you didn't give it to everyone, if you gave it to just the top tiers, I think that's another thing I would say that would really have given me some pause about IHG One taking the world by storm here.

Richard Kerr: Oh, I would agree. It's again, a huge step forward. I think the rubber's going to meet the road over the next few ... Well, these start June. I think that's when the new benefits start.

Ed Pizza: Sounds right.

Richard Kerr: So, June, July and August when we see the first reports come in of people, "Hey, these properties are welcoming to these new benefits and they've obviously got great training and the front desk agent knows what's going on and I got these upgrades," or it's, "Hey, every time I call 14 days out, I'm told no upgrades available. Every time I ask for late checkout, no." That's when we're going to find out how all this stuff shakes out, which could be really interesting. I might have to try a few myself because, thanks to the credit card, I am platinum, so I do have the reward night discounts and I do have the late checkout and the early check-in. Maybe I'll do a few test runs there and see what's going on.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, a few test runs. I think even if everything here were implemented at the best possible level, I still think Hyatt is noticeably ahead of IHG. I think some things at Hyatt, when Hyatt first rolled their program out that they had to go back and tweak that have made it better, so things like being able to upgrade an award stay where Hyatt didn't used to allow that, stuff like that, so, IHG, same thing. You can't use your upgrade certificates on awards stays, so I think there are some things here that they could potentially go back and tweak that could definitely help round this out and get them close to the Hyatt. I guess I'm going to let you answer first and see where you fall on the spectrum. Based on what they've announced and based on what you think they will do in terms of honoring these benefits, where would you rank the IHG One rewards program amongst Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham and IHG?

Richard Kerr: Ooh man, I'm going to say it still doesn't touch Hyatt. I just think the lack of full-service hotels here in the US is the biggest knock against it, and none of these benefits, unless you're going to be traveling international with IHG, I think would make a difference. So, I think it still remains at the bottom after Hyatt and then Hilton and Marriott, but it's now not like a ... It will be a thought going forward. It will be something to consider. But because most of these benefits at the IHG properties that I stay at are inconsequential or don't matter, then I think it will remain how I use it now and the same ranking. But, if I were to be back oversees like in Japan where you got some baller IHG hotels within a short reach of Asia Pacific and all these things would be cool, then I might be looking at this a little bit different.

Ed Pizza: Since you have the card in your wallet, I think we should spend some time either next week or the week after strategerizing how that might affect folks picking up, actually.

Richard Kerr: It's a word.

Ed Pizza: It is. Hey, a president said it. It must be a word.

Richard Kerr: Oh lord.

Ed Pizza: So, the top of my tier, the top of my pyramid's the same as yours. Hyatt is still number one in my book. It gets really murky for me after that.

Richard Kerr: After that, it's just on an as-needed basis. You have to stash your points in there, and when I need it, I need it. That's-

Ed Pizza: I think, if I had to rank them, I would ... and these would be very tightly grouped once you get past one. I would say, on a scale of 1-10, Hyatt's the 10 and everybody else is call it a six-and-a-half or a seven or worse. So, I think I'd say my number two at this point would be Hilton. I really do think that I would make Wyndham my third at this point just because I think that there are some unique things there, especially with being able to earn on some interesting categories on the credit cards. I was really impressed with our rewards stay down there, and I think being able to transfer points to Vacasa and stuff like that, because of the size of their program and the breadth of it and the variety of options, I think it offers some interesting things as a third-place program. And then from there, look, we talk badly about Marriott quite a bit on the show. Nobody's going to confuse us with getting compensated from Marriott.

Richard Kerr: I look forward to seeing them Thursday at the Freddies thing.

Ed Pizza: Yeah exactly. I'd be reluctant to rank IHG ahead of Marriott right now, but I'm close. I think if I heard some good reports in the first 90 days this program is out, I would put IHG ahead of Marriott based on what I'm seeing on paper, and that's if they can implement confirmable suite upgrades. I think that's a huge plus for them. There are a few things I think here that set them aside, being able to implement confirmed suite upgrades, which Marriott has done a horrendous job with. I think their breakfast benefit is clearly better, and I don't think Marriott does a great job guaranteeing late checkout. So, I think IHG could really come up to a level pretty quickly of competing with Marriott. To your point, I think the only downside that might have some people rate IHG below Marriott is just the lack of top-tier properties in the US. But, boy are there some baller properties outside of the US.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, it's time to get out of the US. Every time I've been trying, I keep failing. Oh, speaking of, let's talk about just a quick note here. If you're trying to get in touch with Singapore Airlines to do anything right now, you have to give yourself weeks, weeks to get in touch with them. I have wasted so many hours. What at first was going to be a seat assignment request because, on the A350-900, to get extended range to go JFK to Singapore, you want a bulkhead seat for extra legroom. I'm a tall, big guy. That's since now had to turn into a cancellation, man, and I've done everything. You have to wait. They call you back at random times. You better answer your phone. And then, dude, once you answer your phone, the process to actually get anything done is just as terrible as trying to get in touch with them.
You get put through an automated system after you answer the phone. You got to put your number in, so you better be near your reward wallet or something to have your flyer number memorized. You got to put a PIN password in. If you haven't set the PIN password up, you got to go on your desktop and do that. And then, once you finally get through this, the agent has no idea how to do anything and they're like, "Let me put you in contact with this other desk." You wait on hold for another hour and you're just like, "What in the world is going on at what was a preeminent international airline?" It is a disaster and it is atrocious. Some people say the chat function right at 9:00PM Eastern is the way. I've tried that. I can't get anybody on their chat function online. It's an automated bot that says they're going to put you in the queue. Eventually, no agent shows up and it just kicks you out of the queue and tells you to try later. It is abysmal. So, anybody trying to get in touch with Singapore right now, God bless. Good luck. It's awful.

Ed Pizza: You're making me nauseous because I have a ticket booked in August to travel with our buddy Julian, and there's a 30% chance I can actually book it. Now, I'm like, "How long am I going to spend trying to get those points back?"

Richard Kerr: Oh man, I'm still ... anyways, disaster, buddy. Don't do it.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, and on that note, I don't know if you saw this morning on the old Twitter, Joe has been trying to get ahold of them, one of my Twitter followers. He's seven days post-flight and he still doesn't have his bags, his checked bags.

Richard Kerr: You cannot get in touch with anybody to find anything out. You got to go back to the airport and just camp out there and talk to somebody in person to see, "What is the deal?" Good buddy Joe, Joe Nichols is an expat Auburn graduate that points miles ... He lives in Singapore and I've been talking to him, and he's like, "Dude, I've had to go down to the service desk at wherever in Singapore and just beg to talk to them in person because it's impossible to talk to them anywhere else." I'm like, "This is unreal. Let's staff this up, Singapore. Let's go."

Ed Pizza: Yeah, that is painful. Like I said, you've got me scared for my summer flight. And, once again, we did not get to summer travel. I'm hoping that we get to our summer travel before fall.

Richard Kerr: I've got a plan. I have a category one to seven Hyatt ticket expiring May 29th, and that's stay-by for Marriott. I got to pick me out a nice trip in the next week to get done before that expires.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, I have one that I fiddle around with that I ended up back in my account because I suddenly have to cancel. I think it expires in June, but I got to figure out how to use up a cat one to seven. I know it won't be at a seven. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get a five or a six out of it. I don't know. We'll see.

Richard Kerr: I'm going to Hawaii. I would love to use it out there, but I'm not going til September.

Ed Pizza: Have you called Hyatt to ask if they'll extend it?

Richard Kerr: I have not. I was going to send my concierge an email first and see because that would be awesome. I'll do that right now while you're signing off.

Ed Pizza: Well, I'm signing off. You mean you don't listen to my sign-off?

Richard Kerr: Sorry, what'd you say crosstalk

Ed Pizza: Well, we are still chasing Summer and Julian to come back on the show and catch up and make fun of Richard and I, and we are absolutely going to get to talk summer travel at some point. Next week, we will talk about Freddie Awards results, which, I still haven't seen the full list. I did see a sneak peek of a couple winners, but we'll crosstalk wraps until New Orleans, where we will get more good gumbo this week. But, summer travel stuff to come, and Summer and Julian to come as well as a lot more fun stuff. We'll talk about IHG credit cards and how you can use those to maximize IHG status going forward. All that and lots, lots more with the two ugliest guys in podcasting until we upload-

Richard Kerr: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.

Ed Pizza: Oh, see, you do listen.

Richard Kerr: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. You just watch yourself there.

Ed Pizza: I can't. The glare from your head, I can't see anything.

Richard Kerr: Yes, I'm bald, ladies and gentlemen. I'm 35 and I'm bald, oh God.

Ed Pizza: I am not 35. Until we upload again, we have miles to go.

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