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A Holiday Inn attempts bribery to gain positive reviews

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We have probably all seen signs in hotels and restaurants we have visited asking if we would be kind enough to recommend them on TripAdvisor or similar sites if we enjoyed our visit.

One Head for Points reader recently found that a Holiday Inn in San Francisco was stooping to outright bribery in order to get positive feedback on internal IHG surveys:


Yes, you got 1000 IHG Rewards Club points for scoring the hotel 10 out of 10.  That is a bribe of £4 – £5.

I know from conversations with IHG staff that the company takes the questionnaire scores very seriously – I’m not sure how seriously it takes attempts to game the system.

What is slightly concerning is that the leaflet implies that the hotel is told the score you give it (how else could they award the 1000 points?).  You may think you are making a confidential submission to Head Office but that is clearly not the case.

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Comments (50)

  • Nick says:

    IMHO, it’s questionable that this can be termed a bribe, especially in legal terms. The offer is a reward of 10K points “…thanking you for your time…”, and, “…our way of a saying “Thank You” for choosing to stay…”.

    It doesn’t state that the points won’t be paid if the recipient leaves a score below 10/10.

    Are there any further T&C attached to the email, or a link to them?

    • Nick says:

      Sorry, typo, 1K points, not 10K.

      • harry says:

        “if…then” condition = if you do this (give us 10), then we’ll do that (give you 1000 points)

      • Genghis says:

        I think it clearly is. Giving the points is conditional upon scoring a 10; a financial (or equivalent) advantage to influence the performance of a supposed impartial review.

        • Mark B says:

          Agreed, it would be 1000 points just for completing the survey.

          This also raises issues over hotels being able to award points directly surely doing it too often would lead to Head Office asking questions.

          • HiDeHi says:

            It clearly says the points will only be awarded if you give a score of 10/10!

  • Sanjay says:

    Stayed at a Best Western in Central London overnight on the way to Dubai. Horrible stay. A closet was larger than the room they gave me. After much discussion with the front desk, they gave me a larger room – but still quite poor by any standard.

    Left a poor review only to have them call me in Dubai asking me to change my review and they would give me a special rate or even a free night in exchange.

    Hotel was so cra*…that I told them to keep their room and the review would stay.

  • Joe says:

    IHG and Marriott do know the account holder who make the review.
    If they are marked below 8 in any area they have to respond.
    For both brands when marking below 8, I have been questioned by staff on repeat visits as to why the mark was below the threshold.

    • Rob says:

      That would explain why I was given 15,000 bonus points at the IC Abu Dhabi when, casually asked at check-out how I would rate the hotel (they didn’t mention the survey, it was just in the general context of how good are we?), I said ‘7’!

      • Genghis says:

        Now we’re talking! Well, there’s always something any IHG hotel can improve…

      • CV3V says:

        I was asked this too, by the Customer Relations Manager at the HI Glenmarie, was even given her business card. I said an 8, wish i hadn’t been so generous now!

        That contrasted with check in, after a day sweating my way around KL i turned up in shorts n t shirt to check in amongst the many suited types. Whilst in the queue for check in one of the staff asked if she could help, said i wanted to check in, she then walked off without saying anything and stood behind her desk and didn’t assist anyone. Once I got to start check in they spotted my Spire status and then i had 3 staff all check me in!

      • Anon says:

        15k point is very generous as the hotel has to pay for the bonus points.

        • Rob says:

          My profile still shows that I work for one of their biggest corporate customers which may have impacted it ……

          Hotel is a disgrace as per my review. 90% of rooms seem to be being sold to package holidaymakers as it has lost business guests to more modern properties so when you arrive expecting a business hotel and business environment you’re in for a big surprise.

          They even gave me a fake Ambassador upgrade to ‘club floor without club access’ whilst dishing out better rooms to non-status package holiday people paying literally a third of what I would have been paying.

          People who think I get any sort of special treatment because I run this site need only read a few of my hotel reviews to realise that isn’t true. I have been massively legged over by IHG, Marriott and Carlson in the last 12 months, although none surpassed my Rocco Forte experience of 18 months ago.

          • David Devine says:

            Do you have the links to these reviews,? …would be a good reminder. I did read your IC visit recently.

            It’s good to see that even someone as experienced as yourself can still get a dud. Can be a bad day/poor staff for a good hotel. Sharing these online is always good info.

            btw, stayed at the Columbus Motor Inn last time I was in SF. Had free parking under the hotel as was doing a fly/drive. Good independent option as SF hotels are expensive

    • Zander says:

      The same applies to Hilton, I had a stay at a doubletree and called them out on poor service, status not being recognised and general failings through the stay.

      The manager called me, apologised and said it wouldn’t happen again. No goodwill points or anything but I was concerned as the form I filled out was meant to be anonymous which I raised separately through other channels.

      Subsequent stays have been a lot nicer in fairness to them mind.

    • Al says:

      Hmm – therein lies the fallibility of such a process – I would say that 8/10 is actually a very good score, 7/10 good, and 5-6/10 average. I mark accordingly. Hotel managers probably don’t like me much!

  • Phil G says:

    Does anyone actually take any notice of tripadviser reviews anyway, most are by a person who has left reviews for the one property only, meaning they are staff friends or management.
    One hotel in St Louis has a fixed placard saying ‘No1 on TA in St Louis’ – how do they know unless the reviews are fixed. TA also lets hotels scan the reviews first and not publish (under a spurious term or condition) if anything negative is said

    • Genghis says:

      I certainly take note of TA reviews but generally avoid if there are loads of reviews by people who have only given one review.

    • anon says:

      This is for the internal IHG review, not TA.

    • John says:

      I read the 1star reviews and if there is a pattern then I won’t stay.

  • Harry Holden says:

    Well every time I submit a bad review they reject it. My record is 100% published if good, 100% rejected if bad.

    So I no longer bother but thankfully there is always Tripadvisor.

  • Marek says:

    They always reply to my positive reviews, but not the ones where I had issues or complain about anything. I stopped reviewing their hotels after stays. Pointless.

  • Brian says:

    At a HIE in Glasgow are I was given a feedback card at reception and scored it 8. I was then confronted by the manager when trying to leave and asked to explain why!! Clearly not confidential.

  • Leo says:

    At the IC TS every time the WiFi logged me out (1x a day) it asked me to rate my check-in experience. I just put 10 so they would leave me alone. The staff were so miserable I was desperate to keep interaction to a minimum.

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