Priority Club, the loyalty scheme for Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Indigo etc, is easily the most frustrating hotel loyalty scheme out there.
Historically, there has been an unspoken bond between Priority Club and its members:
The unspoken deal went something like this:
“Priority Club promises to make it unbelievably easy to earn top-tier Platinum status (60,000 points required per year) by counting ALL points, however earned, towards the 60,000.”
(This included transfers from American Express Membership Rewards – until PC pulled out in June, points you purchased, credit card sign up points and the vast number of bonus points they give out in their quarterly promotions.)
In general, if you signed up for all the points codes and promotions, you could probably renew Platinum each year with 5 stays!
but in return …
“Priority Club promises that the benefits of Platinum status will be useless. Despite being our top tier, you will NOT get free breakfast, you will NOT get free internet access and you are NOT guaranteed an upgrade. Be grateful that you get a 50% points bonus on your base points.”
That was the deal we all accepted. And we accepted it because the points flowed easily, we got the occasional upgrade, free drink and free internet offer from generous hotels, and because Priority Club has an unparalled global network of hotels for redemptions – including lots of very posh ones. (Here is my piece on the InterContinental in Cannes, for example.)
Now, though, Priority Club is changing the game.
The rules of the programme have been quietly updated to say this:
Points for Elite Status – For purposes of determining Elite Status, Priority Club points are classified as either Elite Qualifying Points or Non-Elite Qualifying Points. Base points earned from Qualifying Rates paid for hotel stays, points collected from partner transactions, PCR Bonus Points Packages and Meeting Rewards are considered Elite Qualifying Points and counted towards membership elite status. A Qualifying Rate includes the following: non-discounted rate, standard corporate rate, worldwide sales negotiated rate, national/regional/local government rate and specified leisure rates as confirmed by the IHG HOLIDEX® Plus reservation system.
All other point earning transactions, including promotional points, points vouchers, points purchase, points transfers, and points deposits, will be considered Non-Elite Qualifying Points and will not be counted towards elite status.
So … for most people, base points and credit card spend are now the only ways to earn status points. This is a massive change. At 10 points per $1, you will need to be spending $6,000 (before taxes!) to retain Platinum status.
And, at the moment, there is no real sign of any improved benefits!
There is some movement – hotels in China will be offering free internet for Plats from January. Perhaps this will be rolled out? However, to justify this clampdown – which will cut Platinum numbers massively in 2014 – they need to ramp up the benefits massively. The programme will become a joke otherwise.
And here is the stupid bit. If you get the Priority Club Black Visa card (£99 fee), you get Platinum status for free! (See this post.) That immediately puts you on a par with someone who has spent $6,000 (before taxes!) in their hotels. Does that make sense to you?
(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)