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2019 Ambassador changes

JFi

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Been following the thread on FT. Looks like at least some of the changes are now officially announced
AMBASSADOR ENHANCEMENTS | InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE:
• Guaranteed one category room upgrade
• Extended 4pm check-out
• Complimentary weekend night*
• Dedicated check-in area
• Welcome fruit platter for every stay**
• Complimentary mineral water
• Complimentary Internet

NEW EXCLUSIVE BENEFITS STARTING IN EARLY 2019:
• Platinum Elite status in IHG® Rewards Club
• Up to USD20 restaurants & bars credit for every stay***
• Ambassador Benefits Guarantee to ensure you make the most out of every stay
• E-delivery of complimentary weekend night certificate

ADDITIONAL BENEFITS FOR STAYS IN GREATER CHINA ONLY:
• One complimentary breakfast every night you stay
• 15% discount on restaurants and bars
 

Jacques Vert

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Still no lounge access.

No breakfast (except in China and only for one).

Last year I came close to not renewing my membership, given the increased number of points to renew and removal of the points "refund".

I also dislike the way the price of a room available for the weekend certificate is often far more expensive than otherwise.

Not sure there is sufficient value to get me to renew next year.
 
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JFi

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Last year I came close to not renewing my membership, given the increased number of points to renew and removal of the points "refund".

I also dislike the way the price of a room available for the weekend certificate is often far more expensive than otherwise.
Just got the official email announcing the changes this morning. Like you said, the renewing option changes from the beginning of this year was a bummer but was never going to last. Paired with Accelerator, it only cost 9k points for me last time to renew. Now with the 40k points combined with the often more expensive rate pretty much completely wipes out any benefits from the weekend certificate. I think going forward, paying the full $200USD is the better option as it still gets 15k points back and 10% redemption points back.

Personally, the changes are not too bad with Platinum IHG for room upgrades at Crowne Plaza and the "up to USD20" credit instead of a fruit platter for stays outside of China. Will wait and see the full T&Cs once they update it especially looking at those "up to" terms.
The best change of all is the e-delivery of the certificate since it takes ages for the packs to arrive and I had to cancel a booking last time even though it was two months after my renewal because it didn't come on time.

Still leaning more towards Hilton with free breakfast as Gold and the possible upgrade to Executive floor for lounge access.
 

dairyfloss

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I'm generally quite happy with IC AMB for the price or points, especially when considering how easily the points are earned (or it seems that way, to me). Lounge access was never going to happen for USD$200 per annum, when many properties charge half of that for a single night in the IC Club, but maybe they should have looked at it for Spire AMB, or to give a certain number of Club vouchers per annum or similar. The Royal AMBs get lounge of course.

Breakfast for 1 in all markets would have been nice. I have a lot of single night stays in ICs, so the (up to) USD $20 credit per stay will help to offset disappointment, some.

Not that I care, but also saw this below the benefits list... why would they not just add it to the Greater China ONLY section??:
**Welcome Fruit Platter: Applicable only for stays in Greater China for Platinum Elite and Spire Elite only.
The biggest bugbear I [still] have with IC AMB is that the upgrade benefit doesn't apply to Reward Nights. This is something that just about all (all?) the majors have in their programs. It is a pain even moreso as you can only book the base room category for Rewards.

Cheers,
Matt.
 

drron

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Though for me as someone who only stays a few nights becoming plat instead of gold is welcome.
not fussed by the lack of lounge access as often an IC can be obtained through Virtuoso and usually with lounge access.
 

Tygeray

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I'll be interested in the fine print, I have a feeling there will be some downside. Have been an Ambassador for several years and found through out Asia you get a lot of recognition and good service, but in Australia I often think why bother. I get Hilton Platinum soon so will be interest in comparing the two.
 

samh004

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Personally, I like the changes. I note that the USD$20 for the minibar is valued at AUD$25... so it's an incredibly poor exchange rate. I don't understand the benefits guarantee. I've not had a benefit not appear so far, so what does the guarantee give me if benefits do not materialise?

Still no lounge access.
I think this is actually a value add for the program over the rest and one of the reasons I chose to pursue IHG and not SPG/HH when I had a choice of programs. I started at the bottom (other than buying AMB and subsequently getting Gold automatically at the time).

It's an old balancing act of pleasing those who pay for access and those who do not, but might spend a lot over time. I guess you could have a lounge within a lounge, like the CCR or TPR but for the price they charge on AMB (and that's what this thread is about) I wouldn't expect free lounge access. You have to remember they have IHG Rewards (Club, Gold, Platinum and Spire) and then Ambassador (Ambassador and Royal Ambassador). I believe the Royal AMB gets what you want.

I could perhaps see them adding a middle AMB tier where you pay for lounge access, but it would be significantly more than it currently costs.

No breakfast (except in China and only for one).
It's weird that benefit only applies to greater china.

IC can be obtained through Virtuoso and usually with lounge access
I'm interested in exploring this option in the future, but I presume the trade off is that you can't get the bonus points add-ons that you can get through the app. For instance, I can get up to 5000 points extra per night at IC's if booked through the app, adds up fast for award nights or even renewing AMB.
 
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TonyHancock

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I wouldn't expect free lounge access. You have to remember they have IHG Rewards (Club, Gold, Platinum and Spire) and then Ambassador (Ambassador and Royal Ambassador). I believe the Royal AMB gets what you want.
From an on site benefits perspective IHG is a dog of a program. From an points earn and burn it is OK. I keep my hand in for the points burn and maintain (unin)Spire status - I use points for Ambassador status and at that level it is disappointing not to receive lounge access. Hilton/SPG-Marriott are a step up for on property benefits - Hilton, I'm Diamond, is my preferred choice.
 

samh004

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I use points for Ambassador status and at that level it is disappointing not to receive lounge access.
So it is your contention that paying USD$150 (has it gone up recently?) or using 40,000 points are the appropriate figures for free lounge access each year when just booking a basic room without club access. Bearing in mind most happy hours last longer than an hour each night, and people regularly use them to replace a meal, while at the same time expecting they remain of a high quality and 'premium' in their offerings...

I know my logic flies in the face of this site and past status runs (although all my status runs cost more added together than ~$200), but I think the benefit of lounge access in a hotel chain, much like on an airline, is worth more than a couple hundred dollars. If I look at Qantas for instance, it's over $500 and nearly double the number of points, but the first year also has a joining fee that is nearly comparable.

Perhaps at the upper end of the program it would be appropriate, but I do not consider Spire to be the upper end even, as I nearly made it there this year and I hardly travel. Royal AMB on the other hand requires a bit more from members, and I think that's an acceptable requirement to be gaining those benefits.
 

TonyHancock

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So it is your contention that paying USD$150 (has it gone up recently?) or using 40,000 points are the appropriate figures for free lounge access each year when just booking a basic room without club access.
No.

It is my contention that the IHG top level + Ambassador should get lounge access.

(IHG needs to fix up its program accordingly. I agree getting (unin)Spire is too easy maybe they need to introduce a new level above Spire that separates the frequent travellers from the occasional travellers.)
 

drron

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I'm interested in exploring this option in the future, but I presume the trade off is that you can't get the bonus points add-ons that you can get through the app. For instance, I can get up to 5000 points extra per night at IC's if booked through the app, adds up fast for award nights or even renewing AMB.
But with Virtuoso you can save $A100 for lounge access so you soon have paid off your AMB renewal.
 

Jacques Vert

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Still no lounge access.

No breakfast (except in China and only for one).
So it is your contention that paying USD$150 (has it gone up recently?) or using 40,000 points are the appropriate figures for free lounge access each year when just booking a basic room without club access.
Not quite what I was getting at...(and I realise Sam's post was not specifically in response to mine).

I've been Platinum with IHG for more than 10 years and an Ambassador for at least the last 5.
Currently I'm also Platinum with Marriott following a successful challenge and Diamond with Hilton following a status match.

When I compare the benefits of the three programs I consider both Marriott and Hilton to be better value. Sure they all have different qualifying requirements (more stays/nights but no $ to pay), but even after considering those, I am underwhelmed by the new (and past) Ambassador benefits.

I ask myself "what am I getting as an Ambassador that I didn't get as a Platinum?" Other than the Weekend Certificate, not much; and the value of that is not what it used to be IME.

OK, I now get $20 restaurant and bar credit where in the past I usually got a couple of drink vouchers (not a huge difference). Always got room upgrade and late check-out as a platinum. And most of the places I go there is no Intercon anyway.

I'll be interested to see what the "deal" is when my renewal comes up mid 2019, but I said above, I'm not sure the value is there for me. YMMV
 
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oz_mark

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From an on site benefits perspective IHG is a dog of a program. From an points earn and burn it is OK. I keep my hand in for the points burn and maintain (unin)Spire status - I use points for Ambassador status and at that level it is disappointing not to receive lounge access. Hilton/SPG-Marriott are a step up for on property benefits - Hilton, I'm Diamond, is my preferred choice.
For the most part, the IHG Rewards program is a discount program - only a little bit further along from a coffee shop buy ten get on free deal.

What's gone:
-the free movie
-double occupancy at single rate
-welcome gift
 

TonyHancock

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Is that a GGL perk?
It is GGL perk but I spend 60+ nights per year at Hiltons, primarily for the on property benefits so earn diamond status.) (81 nights at IHG properties this year for comparison.) It is then a mix between Radisson (IHG/Hilton/SPG-Marriott can't seem to find Scandinavia on map :p ) and SPG-Marriott.
 

jasonfungsing

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If I am only after the free weekend night and room upgrade with Platinum status, is it worth the USD$200?
 

eric2011

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If I am only after the free weekend night and room upgrade with Platinum status, is it worth the USD$200?
If you are australian based your free night may be worth ~$300 AUD. A upgrade, if you want it from a City view room to a eastern harbour room (IC syd) maybe ~ $50 - $70. IMO I pay it because I like the other benefits as well
 

jasonfungsing

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If you are australian based your free night may be worth ~$300 AUD. A upgrade, if you want it from a City view room to a eastern harbour room (IC syd) maybe ~ $50 - $70. IMO I pay it because I like the other benefits as well
Thanks for that. I am new to IHC, what are the best benefits of Platinum? Or any hidden benefits?
 

Tygeray

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I have just received my offer to renew. They list no changes, the offer is the same as last year. When I go to the site they state the change will br made early 2019. How early - Jan, Feb March. ?
 

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