Reader Question: IHG Watering Down Royal Ambassador Benefits?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question by email about InterContinental Royal Ambassador benefits and if they may be changing?

InterContinental Ambassador Amenity

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You can access InterContinental Ambassador program here.

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

Here’s the email from the reader:

I just wondered if you’d heard anything about changes to the RA program that look as if they’re in the works.
Among the mooted changes, is the removal of the mini-bar benefit on paid stays. So, unless the property has a club lounge, the only real benefit is a 2 – level upgrade.

Another RA has been told that, as of 1st August, RA’s on award stays, will no longer receive upgrade, lounge or mini-bar. ( This was at IC Paris Le Grand, one of the more generous properties on award stays)

It seems as if IHG is deliberately trying to “kill” the RA program.

Here’s the statement from the IHG spokesperson:

All benefits for the InterContinental Royal Ambassadors program remain in place. In addition to the program level benefits, hotels may provide specific property-based benefits for members at their discretion.

IHG is always looking for ways to provide the best experience to our guests and is currently conducting member insights to further enhance our InterContinental Ambassadors program and member experiences during redemption stays.

So, there shouldn’t be any changes to reward stays as of now. Not sure what these “insights” might be. Just apply the same set of benefits for both paid and award stays like all the other programs do.

Here’s what the Ambassador terms and conditions state as of today (July 31):

InterContinental Ambassador benefits are not available to airline crew members for crew stays, complimentary rooms (excl. IHG Reward Nights), IHG Employee rates and Travel Agent/Airline/Hotel industry rates.

T&Cs are silent when it comes to Royal Ambassador benefits on award stays but most of the hotels have provided same benefits as on paid.

The T&Cs are clear that Ambassador benefits do apply for IHG Rewards Nights, however. Previously, IHG listed all the benefits that didn’t apply for award nights. Now they don’t.

Conclusion

IHG and Ambassador program were not satisfied couple of years back because they found that the ADR (Average Daily Rate) of the Royal Ambassador members were significantly lower than those of Ambassadors (shouldn’t have come as a surprise).

Most of the Royal Ambassador members travel for business and use corporate rates. Ambassador may stay only few nights per year and merely sign up for the program to get that one time upgrade. The average total spend by each Royal Ambassador has to be multiples of that average Ambassador, however.

To please properties and trying to get Royal Ambassadors to book more expensive rooms/suites, IHG/Ambassador program changed the upgrade process from Suite/Executive room to two category upgrade with club access.

Most properties that I frequent still upgrade way beyond the two categories requires by the T&Cs. There are properties with very creative room categories where Royal Ambassador two category upgrade would be practically non-existent (partial parking lot view to a full parking lot view).

The complimentary minibar benefit is the unique benefit of the Royal Ambassador program including the 8AM confirmed check in. Cannot believe that it would cost that much at the end of the day not that the club is complementary.

IMHO they need to update the InterContinental Ambassador program T&Cs if some properties will start excluding (again) lounge access from Royal Ambassador members when they are burning points.

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