SPG Summer Promotion Analysis – Is There Mattress Running Potential?

Hotel chains frequently have various promotions throughout the year that award extra loyalty points, free nights, or other perks and SPG recently announced their second such promotion of the summer.  In addition to being a decent promotion on its own, it’s also possible to stack the promotion with a currently ongoing promotion.  Several other people have written about this promotion combo, but I haven’t seen anyone really analyze the potential.  What’s always interesting about promotions that offer free nights is that it’s often possible to earn the free nights by staying at lower end properties, but then use the free nights at much higher end properties which makes the value proposition very interesting.  It sometimes even makes sense to “mattress run”, or book and check into hotels purely for the rewards.

For example, I took advantage of a much more generous IHG promotion earlier this year that allowed me to pay for 3 nights at ~$130/night and earn 2 free nights at ANY IHG property.  I’ve already booked those free nights at an Intercontinental that was charging $449 per night!  Believe it or not, I paid less for 5 total hotel nights than if I would have paid for the last 2 directly.  You can read all the details here: IHG’s “Into the Nights” Promotion Recap.  Being able to get this kind of value out of a promotion is rare, but I’m going to analyze the current SPG promo to see if we can do something similar.  I’ll even throw in a Sheraton property list (with cost/night) and the calculator I used to run the numbers at the end.

The Promotions

SPG Make It Count – Extra 1,000 SPG Points per Weekend Stay

Direct Link to Make It Count Promo

This promotion is currently ongoing and works at almost any SPG property.  The promotion will continue until August 31st and awards an extra 1,000 SPG points every stay of two or more nights that includes a weekend night. “Weekend night” is defined as a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night.  This promotion does not have a limit to the number of times you can earn the extra 1,000 points.

SPG Sheraton Free Weekends – Free Weekend Night after 5 Nights

Direct Link to Sheraton Free Weekends Promo

This promotion runs from July 9th to September 30th and only works at Sheraton properties.  There is a limit of 3 on the number of free nights you can earn and the free nights have a pretty heavy restriction of expiring on December 13th.  That means you only have a couple months to use them AND they only work on weekends (Fri, Sat, Sun), so that hurts the overall value of the promotion, but it doesn’t rule it out.  SPG is calling this “Our Richest SPG Sheraton Promotion Ever”, but we’ll find out how great it actually is.

Combining the Promos

Before we crunch the numbers, it’s entirely possible the Sheraton free nights promotion is valuable on it’s own, but it’s possible to make it even more valuable by combining it with the Make It Count promotion at the same time.  The two promotions overlap between July 9th and August 31st which gives us 8 weekends in which to maximize the potential of the two combined.  As the Make It Count promo is once per stay with a minimum of 2 nights, it makes sense to try making all of our stays 2 nights.  The 15 nights required to earn the maximum 3 free Sheraton nights is an odd number so you’ll have to either tack on an extra night to one of the stays or add an additional 1 night stay if you want to earn all 3 free nights.  Keep in mind it is possible to have 2 “weekend stays” per weekend by staying Thursday and Friday night, skipping Saturday, then staying Sunday and Monday night.

For my ideal calculation, I’m just going to go for 2 free nights which brings the 2-night stay requirement down to an even 5 stays.  To recap, we’ll book 5 2-night “weekend stays” between July 9th and August 31st at Sheraton properties in order to earn 2 free weekend nights at a Sheraton and an extra 5,000 SPG points.

What We’re Trying to Calculate and Assumptions

The primary thing I’m trying to calculate is whether it is cheaper to “mattress run” 10 nights at lower end Sheraton properties for 2 free nights or just pay directly for the 2 desired nights.  A person who would be interested in this calculation is someone who already plans to stay at a high-end Sheraton property for a couple nights later this year and possibly has access to a lower end property during the summer months.  Another person who can gain value from this calculation is someone that is chasing status and wants to find a cheap way to earn more nights and stays towards status.  Whether or not this promotion makes sense for you is highly dependent on a lot of variables, but I’m going to stick to calculating a somewhat “ideal” case.  Firstly, if it can’t work in an ideal case than it won’t work for anybody, so that’s valuable information in itself.  Secondly, if it works in an ideal case then it might be possible to scale the ideal case to your own situation and check if it will work for you.

My “ideal” case is going to have access to the cheapest Sheraton property during the summer and a desire to go to one of the more expensive Sheraton properties later this year.  This person has the lowest SPG status (2 points/$), but does have an SPG credit card to pay for the rooms (2 points/$).

The cheap property I will use is the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port Hotel located in Dania, FL for a cost of $87.91/night after taxes and fees.  I was able to find several weekends during the promotion period that offered this rate.

This Sheraton in Florida has very good rates during the summer months.
This Sheraton in Florida has very good rates during the summer months.

The expensive property I will use is the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa located in Maui, HI which has a cost of $445.14/night after taxes and fees.  This particular rate was the average cost per night for a weekend in November (Nov. 20-22).  As this is the person’s “desired property”, I will also value the SPG points earned against the redemption cost for this property (12,000 points/night).  This gives the points a generous value of 3.7 cents per point which is probably higher than the average person will get out of them.

The Sheraton in Maui can be pretty pricey, but it's possible to redeem the Free Weekend Nights here
The Sheraton in Maui can be pretty pricey, but it’s possible to redeem the Free Weekend Nights here

This person will earn 4 points per dollar spent on the cheap nights (Status + SPG card) and I will also count on the person “Making a Green Choice” which allows them to earn 500 points per stay by foregoing the standard room cleaning.

Crunching The Numbers

Cheap Sheraton Cost per night: $87.91
Total Nights Stayed: 10 (5 stays)
Total cost of nights: $879.10

SPG Point Earnings:
From Status: 1,758
From SPG Credit Card: 1,758
From “Make a Green Choice”: 2,500
From “Make It Count” promotion: 5,000
Total SPG Point Earnings: 11,016

Free Nights Earned:
From Sheraton Free Nights Promo: 2
From SPG Points: 0.92
Effective Free Nights Earned: 2.92
Value of Free Nights Earned: $1,299.81

Cost of Earnings vs. Value of Earnings:
$879.10 vs. $1,299.81

For this specific scenario, it’s actually WAY cheaper to pay for the 10 nights than to book the desired property directly!  The value of the 2 free nights earned ($890.28) is actually greater than the cost of earning them BEFORE considering the value of the SPG points earned along the way!

Will It Work For You?

Whether or not it makes sense for you to chase this promotion depends on how different your situation is, but primarily depends the price of the cheapest Sheraton you can easily access and the price of the hotel you would redeem the free nights at.  Having a higher status will help slightly with point earnings (especially if you include the Welcome Bonuses), but what would really help is actually getting utility out of the 10 nights you’re paying for.  If you can work them into trips you’re taking already, the marginal cost of earning the free nights goes way down.  Also, if you value the 10 nights and 5 stays earned towards elite status, feel free to add that value into the earnings column.

Despite this calculation working out as a pure mattress running opportunity, I don’t think I’ll be going after it myself.  I don’t happen to have a cheap Sheraton near me, but the main thing stopping me is that I won’t be able to get a lot value out of the free nights due to the limited time frame you have to redeem them in.  If given a full year to redeem them, I’d probably reconsider, but at this time I’m going to pass.

Try It Yourself!

I took this opportunity to try out the Calculated Fields Form plugin for WordPress and created a calculator specifically for this promotion.  Fill in your SPG status and the cost of properties relevant to you to see whether this promotion can work in your own situation.  The calculator can be found here:

SPG Summer 2015 Promotion Calculator

The default values are based on my analysis above, but feel free to edit them and then scroll down to see the cost comparison.

I also created a list of all the Sheraton properties (with sample cost from a weekend this summer) that can be used to find the cheapest options available to you for this promotion.  Hotel costs change often, so the prices on this page are there purely as an example and may no longer be bookable.  Click the column headers to sort by State or Cost/Night:

Sheraton Hotel Snapshot (August 2015)

 

Hopefully this gave you an idea of how I analyze hotel promotions and maybe how you can take advantage of them yourself.  Please let me know if I left out anything in my calculation or how you would have done the analysis differently.  Do you plan on taking advantage of the Sheraton Free Weekends promotion?


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