Earlier in 2016, Agoda launched a new points-earning facet to their hotel booking platform – PointsMAX – with a range of frequent flyer program partners to boost your points earn, including Velocity, KrisFlyer and Asia Miles.
We roadtested PointsMAX with a booking I had in mind for the Shangri-La Dubai to see how it stacks up.
Disclosure: Agoda offered to refund a portion of our stay to help us roadtest PointsMAX.
Selecting a Hotel in Dubai
When making this booking I wanted to maximise the total value of the experience. For me, this means a fair price, points where I can get them, and a confident check out experience.
That means 11am check-in, breakfast and the shot at a room upgrade. Unlike other hotel loyalty programs, they seem to offer these benefits even when you book through an online travel agent such as Agoda – the hotel was more than happy to add the booking to my Shangri-La profile and confirm eligibility.
Using Agoda PointsMAX
Using Agoda, I could choose to stock up on my KrisFlyer miles, or one of many other frequent flyer programs, as part of the booking.
This is the full list of partners Agoda has brought into PointsMAX:
I chose KrisFlyer as my preferred earn miles option as I have a focus on building my KrisFlyer balance for some specific redemption goals in future. The key programs for us here in New Zealand are likely Velocity, Asia Miles and KrisFlyer – however depending on your redemption goals, programs like AAdvantage, United Mileage Plus and Alaska Mileage Plan may also be partners that you could be interested in.
Agoda offered me both ‘Insider Deals’ and room rates with higher pricing, but more included KrisFlyer miles. At this point I could select a room and start comparing costs, benefits and included miles.
A variety of different rates and mileage earn opportunities cropped up – those shown below are all for a single room type:
In my case, I knew that I was happy to book a non-refundable rate – this trip and dates were locked down – and therefore I started to run the numbers for the value of the points on offer by booking with the Insider Deal rate vs a rate with more KrisFlyer miles included.
I had the option for collecting more miles if I didn’t take the ‘Insider Deal’ and went for the usual non-refundable low rate.
When converting into New Zealand dollars, the room rates were $430 and $472 for the Insider Deal and regular rate respectively. Therefore for an extra $42 per night (NZ$126 total) I would be ‘buying’ an extra 2,608 points on top of the 292 up for offer on the inside deal.
Therefore the extra points would have cost an extra 4.8c each, which is more than the 2.3c per point that Keith values them at.
I passed on this option, took the cheaper rate and (in my head) packed my bags.
So there you have it – this is how PointsMAX works. At the least it’s worth adding to your arsenal of online travel agents to consider to maximise points-earning.
What else needs to be considered?
We haven’t touched on price (beyond the internal comparison of Agoda’s different rates).
I’ll be upfront – this is not intended as a comparison piece of all the available booking and points options via PointsMAX or more widely with other OTAs.
Agoda refunded us a portion of our booking when we road-tested their service, so I knew I’d likely be coming out ahead vs other agents, and I didn’t have the time to do deeper price comparisons.
Of course, you should also compare versus booking directly – when I looked at the prices of the Insider Deal rate vs PointsMAX vs direct, then booking direct had a small discount vs the Insider Deal – I’d earn Shangri-La points which wouldn’t have much use to me.
Having different ways to book hotels to meet different preferences for earning points, hotel credits, or whatever floats your boat is great.
But, generally, writing up this quick overview of PointsMAX made me realise how many options there are out there for the traveller when it comes to booking hotels, and how hard and time-consuming it is for the average yet savvy person making a hotel booking to maximise the trade off between rewards and paid rates.