Posted by Ric Garrido

Priority Club Rewards is making loyalty program changes. Besides the name change from Priority Club Rewards to  IHG Rewards Club, there are some additional new benefits of the program to debut in July 2013.

  • Free internet to all elite members beginning July 2013 and all IHG Rewards Club members starting in 2014.
  • Fast-track to elite status by staying in three different IHG brands – no details yet.
  • Reward nights count for elite status.
  • Platinum elite members extra nights ‘rollover’.

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My take on the announced changes for Priority Club Rewards.

What is in a name change?

Do you see a pattern in the following hotel loyalty program names?

  • Best Western Rewards
  • Club Carlson
  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Le Club Accorhotels
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Wyndham Rewards

9 of the 10 largest hotel loyalty programs worldwide use the hotel chain name in the name of the loyalty program.

Priority Club Rewards is normally shortened to just Priority Club and IHG or InterContinental Hotels Group is rarely mentioned. The domain name is simply priorityclub.com.

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Current membership enrollment page for Priority Club Rewards and there is no mention of InterContinental Hotels Group/IHG.

Switching the word order from ‘club rewards’ to ‘rewards club’ means I will spend the next couple years mixing up the word order for the new name. Already, I had to edit IHG Club Rewards to IHG Rewards Club several times in this piece.

  • IHG Rewards Club places the hotel chain name prominently in the hotel loyalty program name. Good move.

 

Free internet to all elite members beginning July 2013 and all IHG Rewards Club members starting in 2014.

Whether or not you agree that IHG Rewards Club is the first to offer free internet to all members is an accurate statement or not is a minor point in this announcement. Fairmont President’s Club offers free internet to FPC members, Kimpton InTouch offers free internet and Club Carlson offers free internet to all its members at Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide.

The difference with IHG Rewards Club complimentary internet benefit is the ability to access internet at all IHG properties worldwide, even when not staying at the hotel as a registered guest.

This is a desirable new benefit for my travel style. Knowing that I can be driving a 500-mile stretch of Interstate-5 across California and pop in at any of the dozens of Holiday Inn Express hotels along the freeway to do some internet research or hotel bookings or blog posting is a nice feature of IHG Rewards Club membership.

About the only time I visit McDonald’s is for this same internet access benefit. I certainly look forward to visiting many more IHG properties in the future for internet access. Just have to restrain myself from lifting a plate of biscuits and gravy at the HIX breakfast buffet while writing my blog in the lobby.

This benefit is even more enticing as an international traveler. With a cell phone and a wireless hotspot at an IHG property in the UK or Australia, the ability to check and send email for free is a real money-saver.

Fast-track to elite status by staying in three different IHG brands – no details yet.

Fast-track elite sounds like a good move considering the changes in January 2013 to distinguish elite qualifying points from non-elite qualifying points. This has little value if it means Gold status which can be bought for $50 for the calendar year.

Platinum elite requires 50 nights or earning 60,000 elite qualifying points. That is a high wall for an elite level with few defined benefits.

The primary feature of Platinum elite status is the 50% elite member bonus points on hotel stays. This amounts to 5 bonus points/$1 on hotel spend at all brands, except 2.5 points/$1 for extended stay brands Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.

Here is the wording for the Platinum member defined “Room Upgrade” benefit:

Hotel Room Upgrades for Platinum Members: Platinum level members will be offered a complimentary upgrade, as determined by the hotel, which might include rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms, or rooms with preferred views. The upgrade will be offered at time of check-in, based on availability, and will only apply to the member’s personal guest room. The hotel is not required to upgrade members to suites or specialty rooms. Upgrade benefit will not apply to rooms booked as a Reward Night reservation.

Priority Club Member Terms

 

Reward Nights Count for Elite Status

This is a good change, especially with the current Priority Club Points & Cash reward option. One of the best values I find with IHG hotels, [besides receiving three free hotel nights in the past month using their Best Price Guarantee program], is the deep discount possible with Points & Cash rewards.

In Berlin the Holiday Inn Alexanderplatz had a published nightly rate of 129.95 EUR ($170 USD) during my stay two weeks ago. Priority Club Points & Cash had this hotel for 15,000 points per night when I booked an award stay in January 2013. I paid 5,000 points + $70 per night to book the hotel four nights.

20,000 Priority Club points + $280 = 4 nights for far less than 520 EUR ($680 USD). My 20,000 points cut $400 off the rate and gave an abnormally high return on my points redemption. The $280 purchased 40,000 points for this hotel award stay.

This same Holiday Inn Alexanderplatz Berlin dropped to 10,000 points per night with the global sweeping changes to Priority Club hotel award category assignment January 18, 2013.

Cancelling my original reservation at the Holiday Inn Berlin resulted in the points being re-deposited in my account. 

I re-booked a four night stay at the Holiday Inn Alexanderplatz using 40,000 points I had purchased for $280 with the original award stay reservation.

This hotel stay was a total cost of $280 with a 4-night award stay or $70 per night when the published rate was $170 per night.

Points & Cash award stays and standard award stays counting for elite credit will be useful for many people who actually get close to 50 nights in IHG brand hotels.

Platinum elite for U.S. residents simply by getting a Priority Club Visa Select membership seems a far easier route.  I wonder, ‘What is the proportion of Visa card Priority Club Platinum members to frequent guest Priority Club Platinum members?’

Then, there is always the exclusive InterContinental Ambassador route to elite benefits if you lead an InterContinental life and want to pay $200 (reduced to $150 for renewal years). You can also buy IC Ambassador for 32,000 Priority Club points.

What is the cost of InterContinental Ambassador membership?

The fee for new members for 12 months of membership is US $200. Priority Club Rewards members may also purchase membership for 32,000 points. After 12 months, members can renew their membership for an annual fee of US $150.

InterContinental Ambassador FAQ

 

Platinum elite members extra nights ‘rollover’.

This is a benefit that only applies to the frequent guest since 50 nights is an abnormally high hotel stay schedule for most travelers. Especially with one hotel chain.

Elite rollover means a frequent guest with 80 nights at IHG hotels during this 2013 calendar year will have the 30 extra nights above the 50 elite nights needed to requalify for Platinum elite ‘rollover’ to 2014.

The IHG Rewards Club Platinum member starts 2014 calendar year with 30 elite qualifying nights already in the account

(80 elite nights 2013 – 50 elite nights to earn 2014 Platinum status = 30 rollover elite nights to begin 2014).

This member only needs 20 elite qualifying nights during the 2014 calendar year to have 50 elite nights and re-earn IHG Rewards Club Platinum membership for 2015.

And award stays count as elite qualifying nights beginning July 2013.

 

These all look like positive changes to Priority Club Rewards to me.

Welcome IHG Rewards Club.

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6 Responses

  1. So typical of IHG and their much to do about nothing
    No breakfast for their top tier members and no recognition or upgrades on reward nights for elite members unless a hotel chooses to do so
    While select hotels do to cooperate it is far from consistent and frequently even in the better hotels downright insulting.
    I’ll take Hyatt Starwood and even the crappy HH programs who destroyed their value recently over IHGs back stabbing ways of top tier loyal guests that can be found at any IHG property

    It would be a great program if they finally get recognition right. The rest is a game of smoke and mirror benefits with no hard reward benefits for customers who wish to business with the chain
    Free wifi 5 years later?
    Major industry breakthrough lol sorry IHG pathetic
    Message to IHG Count on my 20k hotel budget each year going to all other programs

    Comment by D Wonderment on March 26th, 2013 at 11:07 am
  2. I’m not impressed either. Writing this from a very nice Park Inn in Weimar, where 2 nights in a decent executive room with very good breakfast for 2 is setting me back a mere 13,500 points (using the Club Carlson credit card). A screaming deal, like PointBreaks used to be.

  3. “Upgrade benefit will not apply to rooms booked as a Reward Night reservation.” IHG still doesn’t see the elephant in the *standard* room.

    Comment by Enjoy Fine Food on March 26th, 2013 at 4:57 pm
  4. Nice to see positive changes. However PC Plat offers the least amount of benefits compared with its competitors, even worse than Hilton and Marriott.

    Really what does it get you at your typical HIX, which already includes free breakfast and free wifi?

    And with the separate IC Ambassador programme, you need to buy status in order to get any decent IC perks.

  5. […] Priority Club is rebranding and Loyalty Traveler has the best writeup on it. […]

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