As a consultant, I travel a lot around the country and I spend a lot of my time on trains and in hotels. Unsurprisingly, the novelty of this wears off very quickly. Talking to other travellers in my hotel, it seems that one upside of being away all week is collecting the hotel points for whatever chain they happen to be staying with. At the moment, I’m staying with the InterContinental Hotels Group and enjoying every minute of it (and maybe that plug will get me an extra biscuit in my room next week…).

When discussing the recent blog on the cost of living in different UK cities published by my colleague George Hodgson-Abbott, someone mentioned that there are people who actually live in a hotel as it’s cheaper than renting. Naturally my first thought was that must mean a lot of hotel points. And biscuits. We then thought this through. For those people who decide to go with the hotel lifestyle, surely at some point they must be able to check out and spend the hotel points they’ve collected to get the rest of the year free. As analytics consultants, we couldn’t leave it there.

How long would someone have to stay in an IHG hotel to get the rest of the year free?

Different brands within the InterContinental Hotels Group have different rates of return, but let’s assume you receive about 950 base points for one night stay. Anecdotally, this seems to be about average. Over the course of 365 days you would accumulate 346,750 base points.

Now if we assume that the points cost to stay in the hotel for one free night is 20,000 (again this varies according to different brands, but anecdotally this is a good average to work with), we can compare the overall points cost of staying in a hotel for the rest of the year against the amount of points we would collect. Clearly, as the year progresses, the amount of points to stay for the remaining year decreases, but the amount of points you would collect increases.

Based on these assumptions, it takes 349 nights to accumulate enough points to get the remaining 16 nights for free.

However, IHG doesn’t just give you points, they incentivise you to stay more by rewarding loyal guests through their three tiered membership scheme, shown in table below.

By moving up the tiers, you don’t just get the base points, but you get a bonus uplift as well. By the time you’ve stayed for 75 nights, you can receive double points.

So after the 365th night, you will actually have collected over 640,000 points. 

Doing the same analysis on the number of nights it takes to get the rest of the year free, one could actually hit that target a bit earlier. By signing up to their rewards scheme and claiming bonus points one would have enough cumulative points to stay for the rest of the year for free after 336 nights: a month of free nights.

Or as I like to think of it: a month of free biscuits.