Our members are divided over changes recently announced by Intercontinental Hotels Group to its loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club. Are the changes a positive thing for customers or not?
A major part of the announcement is the creation of a new tier above Platinum, which is currently the highest tier. At the same time, IHG will reduce the number of points and qualifying nights required to earn their existing status levels, Gold and Platinum. The number of qualifying points to earn Gold status will halve from 20,000 to 10,000 and Platinum status holders will need to earn just 40,000 points (down from 60,000). On the outset, this appears to be a positive enhancement and our members comment that the new requirement for earning Gold status seems very low.
Gold at 10 nights / 10k points is a damn low bar though (aside from getting it free with Ambassador or simply paying US$50 for it). What do Golds get again besides an extra 10% points?
Some of the other changes aren’t so beneficial. Points will now expire if an account is inactive for at least twelve months. Previously IHG Rewards Club was one of only a handful of hotel loyalty programs whose points would never expire. Some changes to the number of points required for a free night at various hotels were also announced. Finally, the Fast Track program will be discontinued.
Some of our members are not concerned by what they see as benign changes. They don’t see the expiry of inactive points as a major issue, and welcome a new status tier, provided it offers some tangible benefits above what is currently offered.
However a number of our members are deeply unimpressed. Firstly, they are nonplussed that IHG would announce relatively major changes while providing next to no detail. Secondly, they believe the changes will lead to a devaluation of the current Gold and Platinum status tiers. This is particularly concerning as many believe the benefits are already limited as it is.
Not at all impressed with this. Given our bad experiences as IHG WP, we’ve effectively moved loyalty to Hyatt and Starwood (esp. with double dip via Emirates and Delta). A number of times we had been refused suite upgrades as JHG WP even though there were more than 4 suites available to book online for that night at the same hotel. Plus we only received standard internet access. Were told in no uncertain terms that we should buy an Ambassador member ship if we wanted any privileges such as these. Sheesh.
So rather than improve services for members (WP takes a bit of earning) they seem to be further restricting them.
It is also noted that 300 properties will see an increase in the number of points required for a free night, while only half of that amount will see a reduction.
The devil will be in the detail – all of which will be released at the beginning of July.
Join the discussion HERE.