If you thought the days of mail-in sweepstakes were over, think again!
The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) runs promotions from time to time, as ways to award people some extra points, get people excited about their hotels, and apparently they just like to give stuff away!
I originally heard about this promotion on Flyer Talk. If you like the material on this blog, I’d recommend heading to Flyer Talk for even more information, the latest news, and clever travel hacking strategies. The forum there is an amazing asset for anyone even slightly interested in travel hacking, or travelling in general.
Anyway, after carefully reading the Official Rules for the IHG and MasterCard Priceless Surprise Promotion, I decided to experiment. The main variables in this experiment are the direct costs associated with entering the sweepstakes, the time cost of entering the sweepstakes, and the projected return on my time/money. The ROI (return on investment), will not be in dollars or minutes of course, but in IHG Rewards Club Points.
InterContinental Hotels Group
A true conglomerate of hotels, the InterContinental Hotels Group is headquartered in the United Kingdom, and was formally founded in 2003. IHG includes some very well known brands in its stable: Holiday Inn (and all its versions), InterContinental, Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, and more. The chain operates hotels directly and under franchise agreements throughout the world, with major offices in China, the US, and Singapore.
Chase offers a few cards that happen to fly the IHG logo, and any of these are useful if you plan on booking stays at rooms in IHG’s hotels, or already frequent their locations. The IHG Rewards Club Select card, for example, earns 5 points/$ spent on hotels within their collection. On top of that, an annual free night, and guaranteed Platinum Elite status as long as you’re a cardmember. Besides, the sign-up bonus alone is often worth a free night or two!
The Priceless Surprises Promotion
I’m not staying in any IHG hotels this winter. Oh well, too bad.
Hmm? What’s that? An alternate method of entry? Go on…
According to the official rules, folks can mail in entries. These entries need to be hand-printed on a 3″ x 5″ piece of paper (notecards come in handy), and include:
- Full Name
- Full Mailing Address
- Email Address
- Date of Birth
- IHG Rewards Member Number
- First 6 Digits of Your MasterCard Number (note: must be open prior to 11/15/2015)
- Day & Evening Telephone Numbers
But FIRST, make sure you actually register your IHG account for this promotion.
You can play a maximum of 94 entries. For me, that’s 94 envelopes, but I suppose you could do 93 envelopes and 1 hotel stay, 92 envelopes and 2 bookings at an IHG hotel, you get the idea. Once the mail-in entries are received, you’ll get an email inviting you to play.
That’s it! Not too bad really. So, how much will you win?
The Priceless Surprises Promotion involves three groups of prizes. Group A includes a set number of individual prizes, like a free IHG hotel night, tickets to Paris or New York, and merchandise from Sony or Bose. All the prizes sound great, but there’s a specific, set quantity. If more people play, you have less chance of winning any of the Group A prizes. I’m not going to assume I’d win anything in Group A for the purposes of this evaluation.
Group B and C are a little different, and are mostly based on strict odds. The “best” Group B prizes are based on counts, like Group A, and not based on odds. That means that the odds don’t change even if the number of entries go up or down. All of the prizes based on odds award the winner a certain quantity of IHG points. You can win up to 5,000 IHG points from a single winning entry. The lowest prize (500 IHG points) has published odds of 1:1.18. Even at the absolute minimum, each person should win about 39,800 IHG points. This is based on 94 entries, 1 out of every 2.18 entries winning, only winning 500 points. This is a very conservative estimate, so hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised!
My index cards looked something like this:
To figure out if this is all worth it at the end, I need to see what the cost was, versus what the return in points will be. Basically, I’m asking myself: “Was this a good use of my time and money?”
- $4.00 on more envelopes. I already had some around, but had to buy another pack to send all 94 entries.
- $46.06 on stamps. (94 stamps x $0.49/stamp)
- $75.00 on time. I spent about 5 hours on this whole process. I valued my time at $15.00/hour, bringing the total cost to $75.00. You may value your time more or less. This is less than my hourly wage currently, but I was also watching TV, listening to podcasts, or having a few beers while I was filling out the envelopes, not things I can do at work.
Total Cost: $125.06
IHG points are currently valued at about $0.007/point (7/10 of a cent). I’ll need to earn 17,870 IHG points to break even. So, if my predictions are right, I’m netting just over 38,000 IHG points, or about $266.00. Plus, remember that’s including 5 hours of time at $15/hour, and with a very conservative estimate on the return.
Let’s see what IHG surprises me with!