Bits: Azimo £15 gift card, Kimpton hits Amsterdam, order room service by texting an emoji!

News in brief:

£15 Amazon gift certificate with first Azimo currency transfer

I mentioned this offer over Christmas, but I wanted to flag it again because it is still running until the end of the month.

Online money transfer group Azimo is offering a £15 Amazon gift certificate for new customers.  You need to use voucher code AZIMOGIFT when processing your transfer.

Azimo is especially good value for sending money to more ‘obscure’ countries which other online transfer firms do not cover.  For mainstream transactions, compare their prices with TransferWise who are their main competitior.

The promotion is not featured on their website.  In order for the AZIMOGIFT code to be accepted, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be a new customer
  • Excludes SWIFT, mobile top up, transfers made with a credit card and transfers from Euro to Euro or GBP to GBP
  • Minimum £15 transfer required
  • Amazon voucher will be sent within 60 days

The Azimo site is here.  The offer closes on the 31st.

Crowne Plaza Amsterdam Kimpton

Kimpton Hotels to open in Amsterdam

Here is a surprise.  IHG bought US boutique chain Kimpton back in January 2015, to howls of despair from its loyal guests.

We are talking about hotels which put yoga mats in every room, offer free bike rentals and run a free Wine Hour every night.  A Holiday Inn it is not.

The deal has not gone too well.  A number of hotels around San Francisco quit the chain, seven in total, which may have messed up the economics of the whole transaction.  IHG has also appeared wary of changing the Kimpton loyalty scheme, Kimpton Karma, which has not been integrated into IHG Rewards Club.

The big news yesterday was that Kimpton is expanding outside the USA.  The Crowne Plaza Amsterdam City Centre, photo above, is to close for a complete make-over, reopening next year as a 270-room Kimpton.

Amsterdam is a relatively ‘soft’ choice for the brand, of course.  However, converting a successful Crowne Plaza is a risky move for the hotel owners.  IHG will also not be making much additional revenue as it is simply switching one franchise fee for another.  Hopefully Kimpton will be available for IHG Rewards Club redemptions by the time it opens.

Aloft Liverpool

World’s first emoji room service arrives at Aloft Liverpool

Starwood’s ‘cheap boutique’ brand Aloft has launched the world’s first emoji-only room service menu at the Aloft Liverpool (photo above).

There is little I can do but quote the press release:

Guests are now able to order a fun selection of items from room service via text from the Aloft TiGi Emoji Room Service Menu – an emoji-led selection of packages that will offer essentials to guests that can be easily conveyed via pictures. Guests simply text the corresponding emojis from the Aloft TiGi Emoji Room Service Menu to the hotel dedicated TiGi phone line, along with their room number, to receive their chosen item. 

This is how it seems to work.  You look up what you want from the room service menu.  Each items has a different emoji next to it.  You text that emoji to a dedicated number, along with your room number, and your food will be delivered to your room.  No need to do anything as complex as ringing room service.

It would have been a shame to let such a ground-breaking event go unrecognised.  So they didn’t.

To celebrate the launch in Liverpool there has been an “emoji takeover” with local artists given the opportunity to showcase their work in a three day exhibition called EmojiExhibit. Artists include Graphic Designer, James Traynor who has designed a retro animated Emoji Pacman. 

Other designs include an emoji dress by fashion designer Heather Orr and emoji Shakespeare covers by graphic designer Jamie Rector. 

Guests at Aloft Liverpool are also invited to take part in a free Emoji Yoga class with Liverpool Yoga Studios, specifically designed to support the lifestyle of a modern traveller. The series of postures will provide a number of holistic and health benefits that are proven to reduce insomnia and relieve stress, perfect for business travellers or those suffering with jet lag.

More seriously, even if you have no interest in ordering room service via emojis, Aloft Liverpool is meant to be a very impressive hotel.  It is also, as I wrote here, a very good value Starpoints redemption.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see  our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. How is ordering by emoji any different from calling down to your local Chinese takeaway and asking for a number E6 with extra rice? …

  2. So what is to stop anyone from texting the number along with a room number after they have left the hotel. Can see some fake orders being made.

  3. I’ve still not had the £15 Amazon gift voucher/code come through from Azimo having registered & sent on 21/12/15.
    Wondering if anyone else has either had theirs, or is still waiting.

    • cisoard says:

      Ditto. Made a transfer, put in the code, and all it said was that the £1 fee was waived. Still no sign of the Amazon voucher. Transfer was made on last week of December 2016 (can’t remember the exact date).

      • If you don’t get it after 60 days, let me know and I will chase up with their marketing team who send me these press releases.

        • SoloFlyer says:

          Same here but was told by them on Twitter the deal ended in the summer….bit confused about all this

        • Same here, used code in December but no voucher, chased them via email and they are looking into it.

    • Made a transfer on the 26th December, they processed it on the 29th and I got my voucher on the 15th of January, so roughly 2 weeks.

      • I made my transfer on the 21st but no voucher yet – was giving them 60 days (until 19th Feb) before chasing – will perhaps do so via Rob given his kind offer in the comments here 🙂

  4. Might be worth looking at new company revolut for overseas spending. I’m going to teat it out when I go overseas in February.

    • The_Real_A says:

      +1. have used this for past 6 months and works very well. Perfect exchange rates with no loading or commission, and MasterCard (who’s exchange rate are more advantageous than Visa/AMEX). I have used the support chat and they respond within 5-10 minutes.

      They are looking to expand so Rob should contact them for a promo code 🙂

      • Lady London says:

        A savvy friend also recommended revolut. Now that I’ve heard it here of course, I think I might actually take a look 🙂

        I was one of the ones who got the supercard, but the app was never accepting signups, ever, whenever I tried to activate it… anyone know what happened to supercard? is it still working? did they decide to go ahead after beta test?

    • Revolut definitely looks interesting, thanks for the tip Alex. Be interesting to compare rates with Transferwise but the zero fees with what looks like good rates is definitely appealing. The physical card for both ATM withdrawals and purchases is also great – I’ve been making use of Number26 until now but this could be even easier. Supercard still has a benefit for allowing you to earn rewards points on your linked card too but hopefully the more these services take off the more likely that Amex et al will start to consider going fee-free too!

      • Have now read the FAQs, still seems pretty good. They make their money on card fees (pretty small margin now I’d imagine!) and reserve the right to change their fee structure after 12 months although promise no radical change. Looks like it might not be quite so good for transfers to/from non-EU bank accounts though (see below) so Transferwise and Azimo would still have a role there, but from what I’ve read seems a decent option on the foreign ATM and spend front.

        “Transfers in Euros, Pounds or US Dollars between Revolut users are instant and free anywhere in the world.

        International transfers to bank accounts can be transacted in the following currencies: EUR, GBP, USD, AUD, CAD, CZK, DKK, HKD, HUF, ILS, JPY, MXN, NZD, NOK, PLN, RON, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, TRY, AED.

        More currencies will be added soon.

        Please note, transfers via SWIFT may incur a bank processing fee by a beneficiary’s bank before money is credited to a beneficiary’s account. If a correspondent bank is involved there may be a processing fee by them as well. Thus, the beneficiary may receive less money that you sent. To get information about these fees, please contact the beneficiary’s bank.”

    • I missed out on Supercard so signed up for this instead. Last year I used it in the US and in Finland without any problems at all. I even used it to pay for the Groupon.es Avios promotion whilst sat at my desk in the UK. Tech support was also very good when I temporarily needed to transfer the account to my wife’s phone, so I’m definitely keeping mine for future travel.

      If you are thinking of getting one its worth investigating moneysavingexpert.com to see if they have any signup codes left. I got £10 of free currency for loading £50 onto the card. Not sure if Rob could get something similar for this site in the future but I’d imagine we’d be very much their target audience so they may be willing to do some kind of deal.

      • Agree that sort of deal would be good! No immediate need for it so will hold off signing up in case Rob can strike a deal!

  5. Andrew M says:

    OT Has anyone received the 1000 bonus Avios from the recent Amex currency exchange promotion? I’ve received the normal amount of Avios but no bonus.

    • Genghis says:

      Not yet. I chased Travel Money Now and was told it can take a while – for me it’s due by 28 Feb and I ordered around 10 Dec from memory.

      • No, didn’t order until the 14th or 15th so guess I’ll be waiting a while still

  6. Shame Starwood are still peddling out the Emoji menu PR.

    They launched it in Manhattan last October, so Liverpool isn’t the first.

    They then launched and did PR for it at the Aloft London Excel, so Liverpool isn’t the first in the UK either.

    Complete PR stunt by the way. At the Excel hotel at the moment and you can’t order anything by Emoji any more. It ran for a couple of weeks and was quietly retired with all the in-room info being removed.

  7. Aeronaut says:

    I sense a lot of custom coming their way today!

  8. I was staying at the Aloft in Liverpool when they launched it last week. They had a little party, music, food, drinks etc. I have a picture of the emoji card of items avail. Most aren’t worth it.

    1) ‘The Sightseer” 2 bottles of water, a map and 2 bananas = 6 quid
    2) ‘The Hangover” Water, bacon butty, and a banana = 10 (avail 7am to midday)
    3) ‘The Munchies” Coca-cola, kettle chips, donut and nutri grain bar = 7
    4) “The Re:Fresh” Toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, shaving cream and deodorant =10

    The last one is the least valuable and waste of money I think, as most of those items are free if you request them! I won’t be using them.

  9. Tracked successfully

  10. A quick check:
    Transferwise has better rate than Azimo for GBP to Philippines peso.

    • I think I might have compared different services though. I’m on there mobile sites. Transferwise, I think is bank to bank. Azimo bank to cash pickup. Maybe.

  11. Would be fun to send random emoji’s just to see what turns up…

  12. RIccati says:

    — A number of hotels around San Francisco quit the chain, seven in total, which may have messed up the economics of the whole transaction.

    This a cautionary tale for Marriott and Starwood.

  13. Bandzior says:

    A word of warning: Azimo has terrible customer service and I would advise against using them. The rates may be slightly better than others, but it’s not worth the pain of dealing with their incompetent staff. My transaction was cancelled as I missed their call when they phoned for a ‘security check’, despite calling back within 5 minutes. Apparently my automatic refund is 5 days away. They are a joke, stick with the other established names out there.

    • No problem with you posting your experience.

      My bank transfer from lunchtime is already with our bank in Europe and will become available to us within 24 hrs, all very smooth & painless.

  14. Yep planning on doing mine tomorrow, thought I’d give it 24 hrs

  15. BrianDT says:

    Probably a bit daft, but how’s the best way to send £50 to myself? Either Sterling or Euros ?I can’t for the life of me see anyway of doing it. Tx.

  16. Is there any liklihood of IHG rewards being integrated into Kimpton Karma in the near future? Looking at Miami South beach and Kimpton have some nice properties there

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