InterContinental Royal Ambassador Program Changes In 2017

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IHG Rewards Club has separate guest recognition program for those that stay mainly at InterContinental hotels called Ambassador. Members must pay to join and there is a yearly fee too that can be paid in cash or in points.

InterContinental Ambassador

There is a higher level in the program called Royal Ambassador that is invitation only and the qualification requirements have changed several times throughout the years I have been a member from merely being referred (remember those certificates) to set number of nights at several InterContinental hotels.

You can access IHG’s web page for Ambassador program here and for Royal Ambassador benefits here.

READ MORE: IHG Rewards Club Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

Here are the changes that I spotted:

Royal Ambassador invitations:

Royal Ambassador status is extended by invitation only to a small percentage of our InterContinental Ambassador members.

Previously, IHG stated that top 1% of the Ambassador members would get Royal Ambassador status. It was unclear what exactly this meant.

Royal Ambassador membership year:

Royal Ambassador membership runs for a calendar year, from 1 January – 31 December.

Previously, the membership year was 12 months from the signing up for the Ambassador program. Now this has moved to be a calendar year.

Maintaining Royal Ambassador status:

Royal Ambassador membership is issued on an invitation only basis, once a year. Invitations are based on your previous year’s activity at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.

This used to be rolling 12 months and now is based on calendar year also.

Royal Ambassador Upgrade:

Guaranteed room upgrade: enjoy an immediate two category room upgrade (two categories higher than purchased) each time you stay.

Complimentary access to Club InterContinental*

IHG changed the T&Cs back in September (read more here) to include the above upgrade blurb that applies to stays in Asia-Pacific (excluding Greater China), Middle East & Africa. It is unclear if this now applies for stays worldwide.

Royal Ambassador amenity:

Choice of sweet snack, savoury snack or fruit on arrival*** and mineral water (water replenished daily)

***Members must select a preference in their member account stay preferences prior to arrival

Seems that member can soon choose between number of amenity choices instead of the usual fruit plate. This option doesn’t appear on the stay preferences yet.

So the questions remain:

1. When is the Royal Ambassador renewal done for those members that had their membership year extended until December 31, 2016?

2. When is the membership year extended for those that have their Royal Ambassador status expire sometime during 2017? If their membership year is not now extended until the end of 2017, does that mean that they wouldn’t qualify in the first place based on their activity over the previous 12 Ambassador months or 2016 calendar year?

3. What exactly is the Royal Ambassador criteria? Is it now based on revenue or nights or some sort of combination of both?

4. What exactly are the Royal Ambassador benefits at the moment. Is it the two category upgrade worldwide with club access (like in the Asia-Pacific per the T&Cs) or does it vary between the regions?

Personally, I don’t see a point staying at InterContinental properties unless they extend the status based on the activity I had during the last renewal (read more here).

Other chains already offer space available suite upgrades, club access and or breakfast where club doesn’t exist, guaranteed 4PM check outs, welcome amenities etc. The only extra benefits for royal Ambassador members (over Hyatt Diamond, SPG Platinum & Marriott Platinum) are the guaranteed 8AM check in and complimentary minibar beverages.

Conclusion

Back in June, IHG mistakenly left a PDF on the open web talking about program refresh happening sometime in 2016/2017 and Royal Ambassador program going entirely revenue based (read more here).

IHG has not officially disclosed any of these changes to either Ambassador or Royal Ambassador members. It is unclear if the current qualification criteria is based on the number of nights stayed at the InterContinental hotels or if there is a revenue component thrown in as well.

I have requested further information about these changes and clarification to the questions that I have above. Will publish another piece when info arrives.

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  • karl

    Thanks, John.

  • Jason

    Still no pack the last time I seen a Ra pack was September 2015

    • My last on came in within a month or so but the previous one took nine months….

      • Gary

        Ditto

  • Gary

    Thx for this post, John. For the rest of our community here, don’t bother calling the Manila service center about renewal, even the supervisors are waiting for instructions and rules. (I’ve written and called several times…).

  • Henrik Johansson

    This is such a mess. I am RA and I haven’t booked a single night with IC this year yet due to not knowing if I am still RA or not. The app says I am RA but that it expires Dec 2016. If I don’t get renewed I will move my business elsewhere. IC without RA is not worth it at all I think.

    • I personally believe that IHG did drop the ball here. Also, there hasn’t been any communication from IHG about these changes to Ambassador members. We have covered them extensively here on LoyaltyLobby.

      Ambassador program does make sense for someone that uses ICs few times a year and couldn’t get status with other programs.

      But for someone that could have/has HH DIA, Hyatt DIA, Marriott/SPG PLT or even Le Club AccorHotels PLT, difficult to see how they could be satisfied with base level Ambassador benefits.

      • Gary

        Just looked at the IHG app and the RA member card updated overnight to a 12/31/17 expiry. No communication whatsoever…

        Also, there were 3 messages in the app to register for “your 1000 point January birthday bonus”… however each one failed. Funny and sad at the same time.

        • Can you take a screenshot of that birthday offer and email it to me (john@loyaltylobby.com)? Thanks!

          • Gary

            Jeesh- now all three are gone from the messages section of the app. I recall getting a return message that said you have successfully registered for “null” and then nothing credited. ROFL!

  • Karen Miller

    I stayed 89 nights in 2016, plus an additional 83 nights of overlapping stays (59 at 11 different Intercontinentals in the US and Europe) and spent $40,000. I just received an email that I did not qualify for RA renewal. I’ve been RA since 2009 and this is the most nights I’ve ever stayed (no rollover nights from 2015). I have reached out and supposedly it’s been escalated to corporate, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I was given no advanced notice of what else I could have done to keep my status, a d I agree w/the article that I will likely switch my allegiance to Marriott or another program if they don’t renew. In addition to my stays, I’ve also been responsible for multiple employees booking at ICH properties that I will now direct to stay elsewhere. So disappointing that they are doing this and treating their customers so poorly.

    • This really doesn’t make much sense. How many qualifying InterContinental nights did you have and total InterContinental spend?