IHG Rewards Club has been sending out “Member booking update” emails over the past 24 hours urging its loyalty program members to book direct and reminding them of the benefits (of lack there of) that members are eligible for.
IHG Rewards Club members are eligible for points rates that are booked through IHG channels (some may be non-eligible for points though), through most corporate travel booking sites and corporate travel agents, and travel agents that book publicly available rates using GDSs.
You can access IHG Rewards Club here.
Here’s the email that was sent out:
We’ve made a change. Effective January 1, 2017, members must book directly through IHG® (IHG.com, IHG®App, IHG® brand sites, corporate travel sites, Central Reservations, or Hotel direct) and not through other travel booking sites in order to take full advantage of the benefits that come with an IHG® Rewards Club membership. Why? We want to give you the best travel experience—from start to finish—every time. And we can only do that when you book with us directly.
Take a look at what you can get through booking directly with IHG®:
• Your Rate* – a special rate that’s just for members
• Points that you can earn, track and redeem for rewarding experiences
• Personalised rewards and offers to help you make the most of every stay
• Reward Nights with no blackout dates
• Complimentary upgrades are always a nice surprise
Check out the full list of benefits that you’re guaranteed when you book directly with us.
It has always been my understanding that the IHG Rewards Club status benefits (nothing is guaranteed even for Spire members except 100% points bonus) require one to book a qualifying rate that would exclude the OTA’s such as Expedia and Booking.com.
There has been, however, the following note on the Ambassador T&Cs:
At InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia (InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora, InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, InterContinental Resort & Spa Moorea, and InterContinental Resort Tahiti) upgrades to the next room category and 4 pm late check-out are not guaranteed for Royal Ambassador and Ambassador members who book through a third-party website or Tour Operator.
This would imply that at least the Ambassador and Royal Ambassador benefits would apply for stays booked through non-qualifying channels.
IHG Rewards Club should significantly strengthen the Spire and other elite member benefits that they promised to do in 2016 when the program was launched back in 2015.
Spire Elite members do not get guaranteed lounge access, breakfast, early check in/late check outs that are guaranteed benefits (except for the early check in) for Marriott, SPG and Hyatt top tier members.
I am not sure what the purpose of this email is and sending it to loyalty program members (I received the email above – Royal Ambassador)? Mr. Carty’s time and effort would be better spend instead by introducing concrete and guaranteed benefits for IHG Rewards Club loyalty program members.