IHG Rewards Club launched their Q4 promotion Into the Nights last week that is valid for stays between September 4 and December 31, 2014.
I have requested that LoyaltyLobby readers would post their personalized offer here so that we all could compare them. If you are just starting with the IHG Rewards Club, you can earn two free nights very easily (read more here).
The main question has been the validity of the free night awards associated with this offer and whether they book to the same award inventory as regular point ones.
IHG Rewards Club had China Dreams promotion in the fall of 2013 for stays in Greater China and the free nights associated with that promotion were very difficult to book at the popular Hong Kong hotels spring this year. The free night award availability was not the same as the one with points.
IHG Rewards Club also has free nights awards that are associated with the Chase credit card in the United States. These have exactly the same availability as if you book using points.
I requested clarification from IHG regarding this and here are the Terms and Conditions of the free night awards:
Free Nights earned are applicable only to the room nights and privileges specifically provided by this Promotion and supporting Offers, at IHG’s discretion, and are not comparable with IHG® Rewards Club Reward Night (redeemed by points) or any other room nights. Free Nights earned from Stays, as defined in the Into the Nights terms, completed during Registration must be redeemed by 31 December 2015. Free Nights earned must be claimed by 31 January 2015 or members will automatically be awarded applicable points. Free Nights can only be used in participating IHG hotels and may not be transferred. A Free Night is valid only for one standard room night rate and applicable taxes (not including breakfast). Redemption is subject to availability of the rooms of hotels specially provided for this promotion. The hotel rooms hotels specially provided for this promotion shall be determined at IHG’s discretion. Free Nights shall be redeemed on first-come and first-served basis. Redemptions must be made 24 hours in advance by logging in to the member account on www.ihgrewardsclub.com. Cancellation or changes must be made 48 hours prior to 6 P.M. of arrival date. Any changes or cancellation after that will be deemed to be a no show, and the Free Night credit will be removed from member’s IHG Rewards Club account. Free Nights cannot be exchanged for cash and are not transferrable in the system to other members and guests. IHG reserves the right to remove a member’s Free Night reward if fraudulent use of the Offer is detected. IHG Rewards Club reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the Promotion/Offer at any time with or without notice. IHG reserves the right of final interpretation of this Offer.
This seems to imply that they have specific award inventory reserved for these free nights awards and it can be drastically different from the points based one. This is what I and many others learned when trying to book the China Dream award nights this spring for any of the better Hong Kong properties including the InterContinental hotels and Indigo.
When someone canceled their China Dream award night, it immediately became bookable using this specific award type again. It meant that, if you waited for close to the stay date, there was a chance that someone canceled their reservation and you could then book it.
I would advise that unless you can commit to redeem these free nights early during the promo and not in the December of 2015 or willing to settle for lesser property, you should choose the points instead of the free nights.