Reader Question: “Guaranteed” Ambassador Upgrades At Tokyo InterContinentals In 2019? (Hotels Have Given 10,000 Points Instead)


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us an email about an issue he was having with two Tokyo area InterContinentals when it came to guaranteed upgrades for Ambassador members.

InterContinental Ambassador Benefits

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You can access IHG’s website for Ambassador program here.

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

Here’s the email from the reader:

I’d just like to share my experiences with IHG rewards program. I was a royal ambassador member until last year but since I’ve been splitting my stays between Intercontinental and Hilton as of late, I’ve lost my Royal Ambassador status with IHG. I’m still a Spire Elite Ambassador member though.

Now to my point of issue which I’d like to share with you. I believe hotels in Tokyo, Japan are not honoring the benefits for IHG Ambassador members in relation to room upgrades. This year I’ve stayed at ANA InterContinental Tokyo twice (2 nights per stay / 4 nights total ) and Intercontinental Tokyo Bay (2 nights stay).

On all these three stays they failed to provide me with guaranteed room upgrades! Instead I’ve been given 10,000 IHG points per stay as per the terms and conditions. That’s not bad but personally I’d much rather have been upgraded. The reason on each instance given by the hotel was that unfortunately all the rooms were occupied since Tokyo seems to be very busy as of recent. Therefore they couldn’t accommodate upgrades.

I told them that Ambassador members are entitled to guaranteed upgrades ( not upgrades on availability) but this was to no avail since the rules for hotels have changed in 2019. I think IHG needs to act on this and make upgrades available upon booking rather than upon checkin. If these upgrades are automatic upon making the reservation then definitely the room that the customers were hoping for would be available for them.

If it wasn’t for business purposes then I’d definitely avoid traveling to Tokyo and above that avoid using Intercontinental when there. I feel that IHG hotels in Tokyo do the bare minimum for elite customers so it’s disappointing. I hope you can share this experience with other IHG Ambassador members who read your article and give them ample warning about Tokyo IHG hotels.

Have you encountered similar experiences during your stays with IHG in other countries in 2019?

This is really weird because the Ambassador Benefit Guarantees (compensation points for issues) that the reader refers to above are not in effect yet (they will be on February 1) and these two hotels should have provided the upgrades per the current T&Cs.

Here are the guarantees (read more here):

  • 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)

I have stayed at the Intercontinental ANA few times over the past 12 months and the upgrades as a Royal Ambassador have been at most to a Club room. This is per the T&Cs, however, that require a two category upgrade from the booked room. I have had better luck at other InterContinentals.


Hotels in Japan tend to be more by the book both in good and bad. Some may follow the program T&Cs to the point when it comes to the upgrades and benefits offered.

It would be interesting to hear from other readers if they have experienced similar issues at Tokyo InterContinentals or hotels elsewhere?

This can become major headache for the consistency of the Ambassador and Royal Ambassador programs if hotels just start giving out 10,000 points ($50) instead of providing “guaranteed” upgrades especially on longer stays. Very cheap way for a rogue hotel to basically buy out the now not so “guaranteed” benefits.

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