My 2014 Big Win IHG Rewards Club offer analysis

IHG Rewards Club registration is open for the Next Big Win promotion running January 1 to April 30, 2014. Each member has a customized offer.

  • Current IHG® Rewards Club members and new members can register for the “Big Win” hotel rewards promotion here.
  • Receive custom offers to win points or miles such as: stay more and earn more, stay on the weekend to win or explore our brands
  • Stay to start “winning”
  • Track your offers and rewards via a customized Rewards Tracker here.

My Big Win Offer: 76,400 bonus points.

My current Big Win offers for 2013 are for 89,800 points, but most of the points are unachievable without hotel stays in Europe. The Big Win 2013 offers with three hotel nights earned around 30,000 bonus points.

My 2014 offers are easier to achieve.

January 1 – April 30, 2014.

  1. Explore Our Brands: 2 brands = 9,600 bonus points. (Earn in 2 nights)
  2. Win in a Weekend: Stay 2 Saturday nights = 4,800 bonus points. (Earn in 2 nights)
  3. Start the Day Off Right: Stay 1 night on Best Flexible with breakfast rate = 2,000 points. (Earn in 1 night.)
  4. IHG Mobile App booking: 3 separate Stays = 5,600 bonus points. (Earn in 3 nights).
  5. Stay Smart: Stay at 2 Holiday Inn Express hotels = 8,000 bonus points. (Earn in 2 nights). Read further to see why this offer is creating confusion with this question popping up around the blogosphere: Are Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express two separate brands?
  6. Stay More & Earn More: 5 Nights = 8,400 bonus points. (Earn in 5 nights)
  7. Win Big: Complete all 6 tasks and earn 38,000 bonus points.

Is The Big Win a Good Deal Promotion?

I think this particular offer is a 5-star deal for me. The reason all these nights are not daunting is the ability to complete all six hotel tasks with a total of 5 paid hotel nights in a 4-month period from Jan to April. The conditions are combinable to complete tasks, so the limiting factor here is the 5 nights for 46.400 points. Earning the full bonus requires five hotel nights.

Yet I can also get good value with this offer after only 2 or 3 hotels nights.

Stay 1: Holiday Inn Express, mobile booking, Saturday night.

Stay 2: Holiday Inn (9,600 bonus points), mobile booking, Saturday night (4,800 points). 14,400 bonus points earned with 2 nights.

Stay 3: Holiday Inn Express (8,000 points), mobile booking (5,600 points), Best Flexible breakfast rate (2,000 points). 30,000 bonus points earned after 3 nights.

Two additional nights can be included in two of the stays above or even two additional 1-night stays during the promotion.

76,400 bonus points earned after 5 nights Jan 1-April 30, 2014.

Rate Analysis: Assume $100 per night room rate. Actual rates can likely be found for under $75 per night in some locations or much higher in other hotels.

$300 in hotel spend for first three stays. Earn 30,000 bonus points on top of regular points earning at 10 points/$1 for these hotel brands.

Realistically I can expect to earn as an IHG Rewards Club Platinum member another 1,500 elite points. Earning 35,000+ IHG Rewards Club points with three hotel nights is a good deal.

35,000+ points has the potential to save over $300 in future rooms at IHG brand hotels, especially with PointBreaks and Flash Sales on award nights.

Even better is staying an additional 2 nights and assume $200 extra dollars. After completing 5 nights and $500 in hotel spend, an additional bonus = 46,400 bonus points.

Spending $500 for 5 hotel nights and earn 76,400 bonus points and 7,500 hotel stay regular points is incentive for me to push several hotel stays to IHG in 2014. 

83,900 IHG Rewards Club  points are worth at least two nights at some top level InterContinental Hotels ($400 per night rates) or 16 nights on PointBreaks ($100 per night rates).

This is a good hotel traveler investment for 2014.


Are Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express two separate brands?

Glancing over FlyerTalk I was curious about the number of questions asking if Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are two different brands.

Of course they are.

Then, when I looked over my Big Win offer, it was apparent to me why there is Holiday Inn confusion among loyalty members.

The best value task I have is Explore Our Brands: 2 brands = 9,600 bonus points. (Earn in 2 nights). The T&C for this task state the 9 IHG brands as:

InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Hotel Indigo®, Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn Express®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites®, Even® or Hualuxe® hotels worldwide.

Stays at Holiday Inn Resort® and Holiday Inn Club Vacations® properties count as stays at the Holiday Inn brand and stays at InterContinental Alliance® Resort properties count as stays at the InterContinental brand.

Stay Smart at Holiday Inn?

The real confusion in IHG brands is due to the ‘Stay Smart’ task which states “Stay at 2 Holiday Inn hotels and earn 8,000 points” in the main page for my Big Win tasks. The offer shows an exterior hotel photo clearly showing the Holiday Inn hotel brand logo.

IHG Stay Smart

‘Stay Smart’ is the Holiday Inn Express tagline.

Read the Terms and Conditions for this offer and the task is not aligned to the photo image of a Holiday Inn Hotel.

Number of bonus points or bonus miles listed above will be awarded after required number of qualifying room nights have been consumed by the member between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2014 (both dates inclusive) at Holiday Inn Express® hotels hotels worldwide.

The T&C state this offer is for Holiday Inn Express hotels which aligns with the name of the task ‘Stay Smart’, however, is considered a different brand than Holiday Inn shown on the photo image for the task. I am not sure why hotels is written twice in their terms.

To be blunt, this is a major f#@k-up for The Big Win promotion roll-out, in my opinion.

Still, I like my IHG Rewards Club Big Win offer this time around.

Update: Dec 18 – The T&C of my offer has been changed and clarified as 2 stays at Holiday Inn.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. My offer keeps showing up as miles, even though I have changed my earning style to points. Any thoughts?

  2. Concerning the “Stay at 2 Holiday Inn hotels and earn 8000 points” where do you stay Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express to satisfy the requirements if the Terms and Conditions specify Holiday Inn Express, but the headline clearly show the Holiday Inn?

    I don’t like the idea of spending $200 at the wrong hotel.
    So does this mean you have to spend two nights at both HI and HI express to make sure you get credit or take your chances that you guessed right?

  3. I hate the best flexible rate with breakfast option the most. At a few of my hotel stays coming up its at least $20 more than best flexible rate, and most Holiday Inns have lousy breakfast too.

  4. “Each member has a customized offer” is the key here. Basically some smart person at IHG thought this up. So here is how it works. Say you stay 40 nights a year at IHG your offer will be OK but very average compared to someone who stays 3 nights a year. The idea is get people who stay some at IHG to stay more at IHG hotels while not rewarding those who do.
    I hate this promotion enough that I’m thinking of changing over to Marriott for my 70 to 100 nights a year. I guess I’m bitter. Sorry but one promo like this was enough for me and now we get another, plus I have the PIA of having to make 2 Saturday night fake stays by the end of the year to get my big bonus, yeah.

  5. @DaninSTL – you are right on how it works – just stay less at IHG and your promo will get better. I used to stay a lot at IC hotels, but due to travel needs staid less with IHG and especially less at IC. My Q1/2014 promotion is a LOT better than my Q4/2013 promo!

  6. Blarggh, haha my two big win promos were each for a total of 31k points 😛 guess I’m skipping out on this one also.

  7. Ric – My offer is 82,300, but make it 10 nights and 4 brands and otherwise pretty much what you have. I’ll make it this one, but if there is a 3rd BW and they up the requirements anymore then forget about it.

  8. To complete mine, I’d have to hop al over Europe and stay at properties in Madrid, London, Paris and Munich… The best part is that the property in Munich is on the outskirts of town by the Munich Fair, where no leisure traveler would stay…

  9. The IHG Flash Sales have been award night discount offers. Award nights will not count for the promotion.

    An IHG flash sale paid rate should count if IHG makes that offer. Or else the terms should clearly state it won’t count for the Big Win. That would be a PR backlash and I don’t expect that to happen.

  10. I was able to complete my 2013 big win promotion for a total of about 91k points….weekend stays were out of pocket but the rest of them were business-related, so this is a great promo for me. Can’t wait to receive my 2014 promo to see how achievable it is.

    Thanks for posting this….I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the promo very soon.

  11. @walterj – IHG Rewards Club has been working on the issue of Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express.

    I could not see my offer yesterday. The website kept freezing my computer. I do not know yet whether I need Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express.

    @Kris – No. PointBreaks are not paid stays.
    Even though IHG Rewards Club will count award stays for elite night credit, award stays like PointBreaks, Flash Sales and Points + Cash stays do not count for promotion credit.

  12. @Ric, like Walterj I have the “Concerning the “Stay at 2 Holiday Inn hotels and earn 8000 points” offer. Is this Holiday Inn only, Holiday Inn Express, or what? I must assume that Candlewood Suites is considered to be an IHG Hotel and not a Holiday Inn Hotel. Thank you.

  13. @Robert – My promo page was corrected to show I need two stays at Holiday Inn.

    Seven IHG brands are:

    Holiday Inn
    Holiday Inn Express
    Hotel Indigo
    Crowne Plaza
    InterContinental Hotels
    Candlewood Suites
    Staybridge Suites

    Holiday Inn Resorts and Holiday Inn Vacstion Club are considered Holiday Inn for The Big Win.

    Hua Luxe is new brand in China. EVEN is new brand in USA, but no properties open yet. There might be a couple of EVEN Hotels open before promotion ends in April.

  14. For the 2013 Big Win, do 2 nights at different qualifying hotels in the same city qualify to meet a 2 night City Life requirement?

  15. My offer was for 9,000. SERIOUSLY? So, if I understand correctly, the objective is to reward those who are already using IHG brands extensively, and there is little to no incentive to gain new loyalty? Great marketing and I will apparently continue to take my business – and dollars -elsewhere.

  16. Mine offer say stay 2 Holiday Inn nights and get 8,000 points. So if I make 2 room reservations for the same night in l hotel and I pay for both of them will that get me 8,000 pts? My parents would be using the second room.

  17. I HATE the Big Win promotions. Had one last Fall and another to start 2014. Both would be great if I could meet all the requirements, but in both cases, it is virtually impossible unless I go book rooms that I don’t need and pay out of my own pocket (kinda defeats the purpose of trying to accumulate points). My promo for 2014 adds up to 88,000 points but they have made it virtually impossible for me to complete. I called and sent an email to the rewards staff to see if there was any way to get around the one requirement that I simply can’t meet and they said nope – no way – no exceptions.

    If they would do something as simple as giving 6 requirements and make you meet 5 of the 6, I would love it, but to give 5 and make one impossible to do kinda screws you on the “Win Big” bonus, which for me is 44,000 points…

    I stay about 100-120 nights a year in hotels – most at IHG properties. I’ve been platinum for as long as I can remember. At this point I am seriously considering switching to Hilton brands…..

  18. @Pat – The IHG promotion T&C for this offer state only one room night per stay.

    “Only one room per member per stay will be awarded the applicable bonus points or miles.”

    @Troutandbout – One of the big issues for Hilton HHonors promotions are the number of hotels that typically opt out.

  19. Ric – I use my points for personal vacations with my wife. It’s a nice perk for being gone as much as I am becasue it allows me to spend some relaxing time with her without costing me anything. Living in Michigan, we typically go to a warmer climate and usually stay in a hotel on a beach which equals lots of points per night for a room. My goal therefore is to get as many points as possible so I don’t need to pay $300-400 a night for a room. One Hilton property that we like a lot is on Longboat Key, FL and does not opt out of using points for rooms.

    The bottom line for me is that I switched several years ago to IHG simply because their program/bonuses allowed me to accumulate points better than anyone else. Now with the Big Win they have made it virtually impossible for me to do so. At this point if they don’t care about working to accomodate or reward a long time member that spends 100 nights a year in their properties then what incentive is there for me to stay?

  20. My requirements are not achievable this time round. I remember my Crack the Case a few years back which required 109 nights! My corporate rate in my local hotel is no longer qualifying.

    Since IHG changed their priority club terms in July, with bonus points no longer counting towards elite status, ‘free internet’ which means most hotels now offer the poorest speed for free, where they would have offered a decent speed previously, and I’ve noticed some hotels have no rewards availability, whereas before I could book any hotel, any time – if there was a cash room available, then the rewards night was available.

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