In what is easily the biggest piece of loyalty news so far this year, Priority Club (the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Indigo, Holiday Inn etc) loyalty programme is ripping up its reward structure and starting again. And not in a good way.
This is the old Priority Club award chart (hat-tip to View from the Wing for this, since it has already gone from the website):
Holiday Inn’s, not shown above, are 10,000 to 25,000 points depending on location.
From January 18th, the company is moving to a brand-neutral award chart. It looks like this:
In theory, of course, things look the same – ie hotels will still cost between 10000 and 50000 points per night.
In reality, it is not so good.
The skill at the moment is spotting the anomalies in the PC award structure. Basically, if you visit big cities a lot, then you are onto a winner with the old structure. The Holiday Inn Sheffield is 20,000 points a night and often well under £100. A Holiday Inn in London or New York is 25,000 points and £150 – £200 for cash.
The same applies to Crowne Plaza hotels. The Crowne Plaza in The City is on a par with an InterContinental, but is only 35000 points per night versus 50000 for an IC.
Going forward, each hotel will have a category which aligns it more closely with its average cost per night. A lot of hotels will get cheaper, but these are unlikely to be in tourist hot spots. Meanwhile, you can be pretty certain that Crowne Plaza The City will be 45000 or 50000 points per night.
The new rates do not come into effect until January 18th. Since you can cancel Priority Club bookings without penalty, it does no harm to make speculative bookings now and cancel them if necessary, just in case the hotel goes up in price.
You will be able to book at the old rates by telephone until March 18th. However, you need to know the old rate to know if this is worthwhile, and of course they will have disappeared from the website.
The following letter from Priority Club was posted on Flyertalk. I am pretty surprised about this – perhaps they have been stung about all the criticism of the changes in points earning since January 1st:
I wanted to send a personal note to let you be among the first to know that we are making a change to Reward Nights soon. As we’re announcing to all of our members today, on January 18th, Priority Club will introduce a new Reward Night chart and changes to the points required for a Reward Night at some of our hotels.
The new Reward Night chart is located on the Priority Club Rewards website. You can see that we’ve introduced Reward Night categories that stretch across our IHG brand family and that we’ve retired our brand-specific chart. We believe that categories will allow us to better match Reward Night value to the points required.
As you can imagine, this new chart will mean some hotels will be changing the number of points required for a Reward Night. Less than 30% of our hotels will be increasing with this change. But this also means that we can lower the points required at some hotels; more hotels, in fact, than we’ll be increasing. Not only will we be lowering points required at more than 30% of our hotels, we will now have more than 500 properties available at our lowest category – 10,000 points.
If you have a current Reward Night reservation we will not be changing the points required and any new Reward Night reservations you book before January 18th will be at the current price point. And, because we want this change to be as easy as possible, we’re honoring the old points required for any new Reward Night reservations made through March 18th. Our Priority Club Rewards Service Center agents are trained to help; just call and ask for the old price.
We’re working to make Rewards simpler and easier to understand. By more closely reflecting the value of the night – you’ll see Reward Night pricing reflect location, brand, amenities, demand, etc. just like paid rates – we think it’ll be easier for you, our member, to plan and book your Reward Nights. And we are keeping what makes us an award-winning program: no blackout dates, no point expiration, no “seasonal surcharges”, access to over 4,500 hotels through our portfolio of world-class brands, and a wide array of Reward options including Reward Nights, Brand-name merchandise, or redeem for flights, hotels, and cars with our Anywhere Rewards.
Carolyn will be monitoring this thread and will help answer any questions you may have regarding this change.
Director, Priority Club Rewards
I am under the impression that Priority Club WILL be making some major announcements about status benefits later this year. Platinum status may start to mean something. Perhaps they will even start giving benefits on reward stays.
To be honest, for my travel patterns, I won’t really be impacted. I usually burn points at InterContinental’s in big cities, and they will remain at 50,000 points. However, a lot of people won’t be so fortunate.
Whatever they are going to pull out of the hat for new status benefits, it will need to be pretty big to offset all this chipping away.
(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.)