IHG Rewards Club has now pushed live the InterContinental Ambassador & Royal Ambassador program terms and conditions update effective February 1, 2019 (and there are some nasty surprises).
We have been aware of most of these changes since December and January through emails from IHG and leaks from hotels that we have covered into detail here on LoyaltyLobby.
You can access IHG page for Ambassador program here.
9. Benefits Guarantee: If a hotel is unable to fulfil the guaranteed benefits of a room category upgrade, 4pm late check-out, or Club InterContinental lounge access/alternate experience for Royal Ambassadors where provided, unless otherwise stated as an exception, the member will receive compensation for the undelivered benefit(s).
a. This Benefits Guarantee is not applicable for reservations booked via a third-party website or tour operator/wholesaler or as part of a group block/reservation.
b. This Benefits Guarantee cannot be requested and given in lieu of programme benefits that are available.
c. All Restaurant, bar, or spa credits are only valid during the stay in which the standard, guaranteed benefit is not provided, and cannot be carried over to a future stay or alternative hotel and cannot be transferred, bartered, or sold. Any such credit has no cash redemption value and the unused portion of such a credit cannot be exchanged for cash and is forfeited. Any such credit may be limited to select restaurants, bars or spa venues, at the sole discretion of the issuing hotel. Where provided, the credit amount will be deducted from the member’s guest room folio on checkout and settlement of additional charges above the credit amount is the responsibility of the member. The credit is limited to the member’s guest room and is inclusive of any taxes, service charges or gratuities up to and including the credit amount.
You can always argue what are guaranteed benefits if hotel can “buy” them out for merely depositing 10,000 ($50 worth) points to your accounts?
Ambassador Restaurant & Bar Credit
h. A restaurants and bars credit of up to USD20, per stay, valid in select hotel restaurants, bars and minibar (excluding in room dining). Currency & credit varies by country and are subject to change:
i. United States of America USD20, Euro currency member states EUR15, United Kingdom GBP15, Thailand THB600, Australia AUD25, Japan JPY2000, Saudi Arabia SAR70, Malaysia MYR50, Indonesia IDR180,000, Vietnam VND280,000 (excluding Danang which is VND460,000)
ii. All other countries: a credit of USD20 will be converted to local currency at local hotel exchange rate of the day
iii. Greater China RMB120 / HKD135 is applicable to Spire Ambassador members only. A 15% discount on restaurants and bars per stay valid in hotel restaurants, bars, including in-room dining but excluding minibar, is applicable for all Ambassador and Royal Ambassador members
iv. The credit amount will be deducted from the member’s guest room folio on checkout and settlement of additional charges above the credit amount is the responsibility of the member
v. Credit is limited to the member’s guest room and is inclusive of any taxes, service charges or gratuities up to and including the credit amount
You need to be Spire Ambassador to get this benefit at Greater China properties where members are eligible for complimentary restaurant breakfast (not listed here at all).
Hotels must hope that members end up consuming far more at F&B outlets.
Royal Ambassador Club InterContinental
b. Complimentary Club InterContinental lounge access
i. Applicable only where the hotel has a dedicated Club InterContinental lounge
ii. Valid for two people including the member, staying in the member’s room only
iii. Where the hotel does not operate a dedicated Club InterContinental lounge, Royal Ambassador members will be given two complimentary full breakfasts in the main restaurant per day for the member and one registered guest staying in the member’s room
iv. The Club InterContinental lounge access Benefits Guarantee is not applicable at hotels that do not operate a dedicated Club InterContinental lounge. More information on the Benefits Guarentee can be found here.
This clears the issue regarding the Club InterContinental benefits guarantee. Hotels that don’t have Club InterContinental are not required to offer the $100 daily F&B credit afterall.
Royal Ambassador Free Night
c. Free Night at an IHG® Hotel
i. The Royal Ambassador member will receive one Free Night credited directly to the member’s account, within six weeks of the member achieving Royal Ambassador status. The Free Night credit is redeemable as a ‘Royal Ambassador Free Night’, and is subject to IHG Rewards Club reward night availability at an IHG hotel where the point amount required for a single redemption night is 70,000 IHG Rewards Club points or less.
ii. Royal Ambassador members can redeem the Royal Ambassador Free Night for stays between 5th February 2019 and 30th December 2019, it has no cash value and may not be transferred, bartered, or sold. The member must be a registered guest for all Free Night redemption stays.
iii. Valid at any IHG® hotel branded property excluding IHG®Army Hotels and InterContinental® Alliance Resorts.
This is a new benefit.
Guaranteed Early Check In
d. Guaranteed Early check-in of 10am on day of arrival
Guaranteed early check in was enhanced from 8AM to 10AM…
g. Minibar credit.
i. Minibar credit of USD50 per night, cumulative up to a maximum of USD200 per stay, in all countries unless otherwise stated below.
ii. Minibar credit can be used towards minibar food and beverage only.
iii. In Mainland China (excluding Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan): Maximum RMB200 credit for the minibar per night, cumulative up to a maximum of RMB800 per stay.
iv. Minibar consumption greater than the credit amount will be charged to the member’s guest folio and settlement of additional charges is the responsibility of the member.
v. The minibar credit is limited to the member’s guest room and is inclusive of any taxes, service charges or gratuities, up to and including the credit amount.
Previously, Royal Ambassador members had complimentary unlimited minibar beverages refreshed daily. Not sure why the new $50 daily credit (max $200 per stay) is only $30 in Mainland China?
Destination & Amenity Fees
k. Waived Amenity or Destination fees, where they would otherwise be charged
These are now waived for Royal Ambassador members.
16. InterContinental Ambassador one category room upgrade and Royal Ambassador two category room upgrade excludes Presidential and Speciality Suites. Royal Ambassadors purchasing a suite category will receive a one category suite upgrade excluding Presidential and Speciality Suites. Speciality Suite exceptions can be reviewed here.
Ambassador and Royal Ambassador members that book suites now basically receive the same “guaranteed” one category upgrade per the T&Cs. Royal Ambassador members only receive two category upgrade when they book non-suite accommodations.
Guaranteed Room Upgrade Exceptions
32. Guaranteed room upgrades for InterContinental Ambassador members and Royal Ambassador members and Club InterContinental lounge access for Royal Ambassador members are subject to availability, and excluded from the Benefits Guarantee, over the following special event periods:
a. New Year’s Eve, 31 December – Location: Global
b. Chinese New Year, beginning on the 1st day of the lunar year for a 10 day period – Location: Greater China
c. Ramadan, beginning on the 1st day of Ramadan for a 30 day period – Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Previously only InterContinental Park Lane and InterContinental in Makkah had exclusion periods.
Benefits When Redeeming
33. When staying on an IHG® Rewards Club Reward Night / Free Night the following benefits apply:
a. InterContinental Ambassador members:
i. Restaurants & Bars credit
ii. Guaranteed 4pm late check out
iii. Complimentary premium internet access
iv. Complimentary mineral water daily
b. Royal Ambassador members:
i. Guaranteed 10am early check-in
ii. Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
iii. In room amenity
iv. Complimentary premium internet access
v. Complimentary mineral water daily
vi. Waived Amenity or Destination fees
IHG and InterContinentals really hate members who redeem awards.
InterContinental Alliance Resorts
36. The following benefits exceptions are applicable when staying at InterContinental Alliance Resorts:
a. Complimentary water will be provided on the day of arrival and will not be replenished daily.
b. Royal Ambassador: minibar credit will be capped at USD50 per day and USD100 per stay.
c. InterContinental Ambassador one category and Royal Ambassador two category room upgrades shall be subject to availability.
37. The following benefits are not applicable when staying at InterContinental Alliance Resorts:
a. Complimentary weekend night
b. InterContinental Ambassador Restaurant and Bar credit up to USD20
c. Royal Ambassador Free Night
d. Royal Ambassador Club InterContinental lounge access
e. Royal Ambassador breakfast for two when staying at The Venetian & The Palazzo Resort
38. The benefits Guarantee is not applicable at InterContinental Alliance Resorts
Not sure why have these part of InterContinental if they are not willing to provide benefits for loyalty program members?
These certainly are benefit “enhancements” that members like and look forward to, right?
IHG here is watering down the unique benefits of the program such as:
1. Guaranteed 8AM check in (now 10AM)
2. Guaranteed 2 category upgrade for RAs (now only 1 if booking a suite and hotels can just give you 10K points and not upgrade at all)
3. Complimentary minibar beverages (now you get max $50 credit per day – up to $200 per stay)
without introducing anything in return besides the free night cert for Royal Ambassador members and breakfast benefit for Ambassadors in Greater China (not sure why it was not disclosed on these T&Cs at all).
InterContinentals are also unique in a sense that they really don’t like members who redeem. Other loyalty programs don’t inconvenience or treat members as second class who use their hard earned points.