The Accor group has more than 3,700 hotels in 92 countries, making it one of the largest hotel chains in the world. Yet, its LeClub hotel rewards program gets very little coverage in the blogosphere – let’s find out if that lack of coverage is deserved or it is a hidden gem?
Who are they? Accor LeClub is the reward program of the Accor group, representing 14 hotel brands (and counting) with over 3,700 hotels around the globe. They can be found all over the world, but the vast majority (76%) of their properties are in Europe, giving one reason why they get little coverage by the many American bloggers! They do have very good coverage of Asia, with a higher proportion (17%) of their properties in the region than many American chains:
The largest Accor brand is ibis, with its sub-brands ibis styles and ibis budget, accounting for almost half of all Accor hotels. More than 90% of Accor hotels fall into the budget or mid-level category, giving you another hint why there is little blogger coverage: There are few aspirational properties to use your rewards at!
Why should I care? Accor offers availability, consistency, style and value! If you are planning to travel in Europe or Asia, the Accor LeClub program should be on your list. They have by far the best coverage in these regions of any major hotel chain and you will find them in many off the beaten path destinations long before the American chains arrive!
Accor has some of the tightest brand standard I have seen in the industry, similar to Marriott, making it a very reliable choice. You can be sure that an ibis in a remote corner of Indonesia will look just like you expect it!
Leave it to the French to add some style to even their budget hotels. The rooms are typically modern and colorful – you won’t find flower prints here – making even the budget hotels a pleasant place to stay at! While the “select service” hotels don’t have bell boys or concierges, you’ll get a stylish, clean room, friendly service and even a restaurant or pool in most cases!
Another reason to keep them on your list is that they are generally affordable: Especially in Asia, their hotel rates are much more in line with independent, local hotels than American chain hotels in the same category, so you often get much better value! Add to that their frequent sales events and points promotions, and you can find some great value in the Accor group and their rewards program!
Earning Points Accor LeClub members earn 2.24 points per USD spent at most of the brands, but only 1.12 p/$ at the ibis and ibis styles brands (35% of properties) and no points at the ibis budget or F1 brands (20% of properties). You earn bonus points once you reach elite level in the program, with Silver earning 2.78p/$, Gold 3.32p/$ and Platinum 3.95p/$. While that’s not a lot of points for your money spent on the face of it, you have to look at the redemption side as well to determine the value of your points!
LeClub has a handful of partners, including Finnair, Europcar and Club Med that allow you to earn points or convert them to LeClub points. It’s a much shorter list than most American chains, so you are really focused on earning with Accor hotel stays. Most importantly, there is no credit card partner, so you can’t earn points through sign-up bonuses or spending, which is probably the main reason that US travel bloggers spend little time on the Accor program!
Redeeming Points The LeClub program is not only revenue-based on the earning side (like all of the major programs), but is also revenue-based on the redemption side. Instead of a fixed amount of points for one night at a hotel (giving you the chance to find amazing value when you stay in high season at one of the top properties, regardless of the cash price), your points translate into cash vouchers, giving you EUR40 of value per 2,000 points. That makes the program less attractive for miles & points fans looking for great bargains, but it also makes it very useful for regular travelers wanting to save some money on stays at budget or mid-scale hotels. You can redeem the points online during the booking process, basically deducting EUR40 from the total amount. You can also get a voucher and present it at the hotel – but you are risking unfavorable exchange rates and the expiration of your voucher, so I wouldn’t recommend it!
These earning and redemption rates result in a 5% reward rate for regular members, increasing to 6/7/8% for Silver/Gold/Platinum members! That makes for rather mediocre value compared to other programs – for example, hotels.com’s WelcomeRewards program offers you a flat 10% reward at many, many more hotels! BUT Accor offers so many promotions that you can easily increase the reward rate. They frequently have double, triple or even quadruple points promotions, giving you as much as a 32% reward rate for your stay – and that is something you won’t get from other hotel chains! Even better, Accor often has fixed bonus awards, for example here, that can be as much as a 100% reward rate! While that is obviously is not a “typical” reward rate, planning stays at low-cost hotels during fixed-point promotions can make this possible.
You can also transfer your points, even automatically, to more than 20 airline partners. The conversion rate is usually not very good, unless you are taking advantage of a partner promotion that can result in a huge number of miles for a cheap hotel night (see example here)!
Membership Levels & Benefits Like most hotel rewards programs, Accor LeClub offers several levels of membership with increased benefits the higher your level. There are four levels from Classic to Silver, Gold and Platinum and LeClub recently increased the benefits for each of the levels to the following:
I am currently a Gold member and was a Platinum member previously. Those benefits are not very generous on paper compared to other programs, but what makes it worse is that they are rarely offered on property. The free internet is available to all guest at many properties, the welcome gift is a drink that I received less than 50% of the time and I have yet to receive a single upgrade, even when the property is half empty with plenty of rooms available. I did receive the early check-in/-out a few times, although it didn’t seem to depend on my status and was given based on me asking nicely and the hotel being empty! I have also never received the promised “VIP Treatment” and frankly have no idea what that entails! That leaves the “private sale” as the main benefit – and with discounts often up to 40% that’s a good benefit. But based on my experience, it is not worth chasing status with Accor – the benefits are too meagre and too rarely offered to make it worth the effort. I’m apparently not the only one with this experience, leaving many frequent guests disappointed, so here is to hope that Accor will get their act together and train their staff better in the future!
Who should sign up? If you are traveling a lot in Europe or Asia, and are ok with mid-scale properties, the Accor group of hotels should be on your radar. They offer a consistent experience, very good value and are often the only international chain available in off-the-beaten path destinations. For many people, it is probably easiest to just book their stays at Accor hotels through hotels.com and earn a 10% reward in that program. If you are willing to work a little for some great value, you should sign up for the Accor LeClub program, take advantage of their many sales and promotions and start saving! I have gotten great value out of the program myself – but it required some effort. If you are looking for the best travel perks for frequent guests, easy points from credit cards or dream of a luxury stay on points, the LeClub program is probably not for you!