IHG Rewards Club InterContinental Royal Ambassador & Ambassador Program Changes Coming In 2019

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There has been lot of chatter as of late about possible changes coming to the IHG Rewards Club InterContinental Ambassador and Royal Ambassador programs in 2019.

IHG RA 2019 U

InterContinental sent out Royal Ambassador offers last month (read more here) in which they referred to minibar credits instead of the current complimentary minibar beverages without any monetary limit (you could theoretically empty it daily).

You can access the IHG page for Ambassador program here.

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

Now, IHG has apparently sent out already training material to the hotels and information has started to leak. I have reached out to an IHG spokesperson several times who has neither confirmed nor denied any of following benefit changes.

There is a post on FlyerTalk (access here) from which I have gathered the following info that apparently has come from an InterContinental hotel in China:

Royal Ambassador benefits starting on February 1

  • 10AM guaranteed check in (currently 8AM)
  • Complimentary restaurant breakfast for one (currently none)
  • Complimentary restaurant breakfast for two if no lounge (currently none)
  • $50 per day minibar credit and up to $200 per stay (currently unlimited minibar beverage consumption)
  • No resort or destination fees (currently no waivers)
  • Free Weekend Night Voucher (electronic)
  • Ambassador Benefits Guarantee

Ambassador benefits

  • Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club (currently Gold)
  • Complimentary breakfast for one (previously none)
  • Free Weekend Night Voucher (electronic)
  • Welcome Amenity (no more welcome gifts)

Ambassador Benefits Guarantee

  • Guaranteed Room Upgrade Failure: F&B or Spa credit of $50 or 10,000 points per stay (Ambassador & Royal Ambassador)
  • 4PM Guaranteed Late Check Out Failure: F&B or Spa credit of $50 or 10,000 points per stay (Ambassador & Royal Ambassador)
  • Club InterContinental or Club InterContinental experience failure: F&B or Spa credit of $100 per DAY (Royal Ambassador only)

Conclusion

As a Royal Ambassador member, I see very few positive changes here if these really are the benefit changes that are rolled out to all next year. The minibar credit is a significant downgrade (now also applies towards snacks though). Your guaranteed 8AM check in becomes 10AM. I most recently used it this past Sunday in Sydney. The restaurant breakfast and waived junk fees are the only two positive changes for Royal Ambassadors.

The “Ambassador Benefits Guarantees” are basically very cheap way for hotels to buy out the Royal Ambassador or Ambassador member “guaranteed” upgrade or late check out benefits. Are they really guaranteed anymore?

There certainly are hotels that are very joyful that they can merely deposit 10,000 points that cost them $50 or less rather than provide two category “guaranteed” upgrades. The $50 F&B credit cost hotel very little considering how high markups hotels have. What treatments you can have in most of the spas for $50? These penalties should have been far more significant and payable in CASH not in funny money (at minimum quadruple – look at what Marriott offers) to make any dent to misbehaving hotels.

These possible changes beneficial for the hotels but mainly negative for program members. The only positive is the breakfast that IHG has tried very hard not to give by default to its top tier members, although all other programs (Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott) have all already done it for years.

Do I really need to start chasing InterContinental hotels that don’t have club lounges and fail to provide Club experience to get daily breakfast for two, $50 daily minibar credit (up to four days) and $100 daily F&B credit to maximize this new possible benefit matrix?

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