What is IHG’s weird “Member booking update” email all about?

If you are a member of IHG Rewards Club, you probably received a slightly odd email from them on Saturday morning.

Entitled ‘Member booking update’ it said this:

We’ve made a change. Effective from 1st January 2017, members must book directly through IHG®(IHG.com, IHG® App, IHG® brand sites, corporate travel sites, Central Reservations, or Hotel direct) and not through other travel booking sites in order to take full advantage of the benefits that come with an IHG® Rewards Club membership. Why? We want to give you the best travel experience—from start to finish—every time. And we can only do that when you book with us directly.

Take a look at what you can get through booking directly with IHG:

•   Your Rate* – a special rate that’s just for members
•   Points that you can earn, track and redeem for rewarding experiences
•   Personalised rewards and offers to help you make the most of every stay
•   Reward Nights with no blackout dates
•   Complimentary upgrades are always a nice surprise

This is all a little odd.

IHG Rewards Club wide 2


Because NOTHING has changed.

IHG ALREADY refuses to give you any IHG Rewards Club points on your room rate, or stay credit, if you book via Expedia, hotels.com etc.  

It ALREADY states in its terms and conditions that you will not receive status benefits if you book via a third party.

Most members would already know this so I’m not sure what the point of this email is meant to be.

I can only think of two possible things:

Some IHG hotels do still offer status benefits to members who book via a third party.  This is basically a goodwill gesture.  But is IHG really going to tell hotels that no way – under any scenario – are they to do this?  If a hotel was forced to upgrade some guests, would they have to choose non-status members who booked direct over Spire Elite members who – perhaps because their client made the booking – were booked via a ‘third party travel site’?

Is IHG going to stop members earning points on food and drink spend in the hotel if they booked via a third party?  If they are, this seems like an own goal to me as it removes one of the incentives for a guest to eat in the property. 

(EDIT: I forgot that the latter was already dropped this year.)

Off the top of my head, I am struggling to think what else IHG could mean by this email.  Let me know if you have any better ideas.

(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. OT. Anyone had any VS miles post from MBNA over the past week? I haven’t. Because of changes at VS. But has anyone contacted VS / MBNA to ask what their plans are for resolution?

    • I emailed Virgin a few days ago re several Tesco auto-tip transactions having reverted to zero. Got this back:

      “Hello Jon

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Sorry for the confusion. Our website team are aware of this defect and are working on a fix for this. Not all earning activities are appearing in the transaction page online. This will be rectified shortly and you will soon be able to view all earning activities with Virgin Atlantic and our partners.

      I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused.

      I hope this information helps. As a valued Flying Club member your loyalty is very much appreciated. Should you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

      Kind regards,


      Virgin Atlantic
      Customer Service Centre”

      Based on the overall crapness of the new website, I’m guessing they have more than a few IT issues… Hopefully they’ll sort it soon.

      • Cheers Jon. A waiting game I guess…

      • Some items are missing or showing as zero but the total number of points are correct.

        • Agree for retrospective items in the statement details, but new transfers from MBNA that were due in the past week or so haven’t yet gone across, hopefully soon!

    • I tweeted them and they said I could call and update my VS number with them “if I wanted” but that it should all update automatically?! We will see…

      • No it won’t. I have spoken to Virgin about this. Partners have been given a file of old and new numbers and need to make the change themselves. Virgin is manually fixing the rest. Not automatic.

        • MBNA said that flying club number had been updated automatically – I think by automatic they just mean it doesn’t require customer intervention, even if it’s been manual work by them.

        • Oh that’s sounding hopeful though – it may not be an automated process at the VS end, but if they’ve given a list to partners it sounds like MBNA were correct in that from the customer perspective we shouldn’t have to do anything.

  2. I believe the email was aimed at Ambassador members. Before recently joining I sent their customer service team an email asking if the benefits would apply on Intercontinental third party bookings and received a reply confirming that the Ambassador benefits will still apply to all reservations as long as you are already a member. Shame as this was working well for me with bookings via BA Holidays.

    • Yes – I think you might be right about Ambassadors – 3rd party bookings have still seen be receive ambassador privileges, but never spire elite !

    • Leafwarbler says:

      Ambassador status didn’t work for me at IHG Hong Kong. The travel agent messed up the booking such that Club access wasn’t included, and even though IHG HK was running a promotion at the time of my stay giving complimentary access if you booked a suite (which I had), I was actively refused it. There was no upgrade, no gift and they told me outright that I would get no points on any spend in the hotel. So I didn’t spend in the hotel………….

  3. The exclusion on 3rd party bookings earning points has not been universal up to now… For sure Expedia excluded (but this also the case with Hilton and probably others.)

    Until now booking made by the corporate Travel Agents many of us are compelled to use for business travel (NYS and TMG in my case) have accrued points just fine so long as bookings are Galileo rates and not Expedia rates.

    If that is to change then simply IHG will lose substantial business from lots or corporate travellers. Any way to confirm this for sure, Rob?

    Am sure your hotline to IHG Towers likely to bring more clarity than a mere mortal calling their offshore booking centre. ;o)

    • But it seems to list corporate travel sites as still earning points.

      • Lady London says:

        That’s why BA always includes bookings through corporate travel sites on any offers. They’re not stupid. But it’s a bit annoying for those of us who are paying the same or more but not currently booking through corporate travel agents.

        FWIW I’ve never had points from IHG on any booking made through hotels.com.

    • They won’t change this, commercial suicide.

  4. Earning points on expenses is already blocked when booking through a Third Party:

    IHG Rewards Club: OTA Earn Restriction. IHG® Rewards Club members will not earn points during a stay or retroactively on any reservations booked through Online Travel Agencies (OTA). This restriction includes but is not limited to: earning points on food and beverage purchases, parking, in room dining, movies, and any other incidental charges incurred during the member’s length of stay.

    However, benefits such as room upgrades, spire bonus points etc can still be earnt at the hotel’s discretion.

  5. I thought for a moment this meant that corporate travel agent bookings wouldn’t qualify, thankfully on re-reading they seem ok! Would be insane for IHG to alienate the corporate market admittedly.

  6. Only Marriott and Hyatt specifically allow status benefits on third party bookings IIRC.

  7. Do you use Egencia? Expedia owns this and stays booked via Egencia are often incorrectly coded Expedia and so no points. Either that or Egencia sneakily gives you a wholesale room destined for Expedia originally.

    • Our company uses Egencia and I have never failed to get points and benefits across my IHG stays. When I get the confirmation email through, it has two references, one the egencia one, the other is the ihg reference.

      I then just add this stay in manage reservations within my account.

      • Egencia is normally fine, but I have heard of case where hotels have refused points because someone believes it is an Expedia booking.

  8. Give them a break. 99% of their time is currently dedicated to working flat out on the exciting new Spire Elite benefits they told us were coming in 2016

  9. Leafwarbler says:

    I thought the email was a bit weird too. Thanks for confirming that using the HFP link for double points isn’t affected, Rob.

  10. I always have to book through Capita Travel and have always got points and benefits, though I usually have to manually add the booking to my account.

  11. Email Just In…

    Dear Neil,

    We recently sent an email about changes to your member benefits that come into effect at the beginning of next year. We’ve realised that some of the details may not have been very clear, and we’re sorry if we caused any confusion. Our intention is always to be transparent with you about our programme. In this instance, we could have been clearer in our message.

    We would like to reassure you that when you book directly with IHG® (IHG.com, the IHG® App, IHG® brand sites, Central Reservations, or Hotel Direct), nothing will change, and this also applies to corporate business bookings made through your company’s travel agency or travel department. You will continue to receive all the wonderful IHG® Rewards Club membership benefits that you enjoy today.

    We truly value your loyalty to IHG® and are committed to doing all that we can to make your experiences with us all that you’ve come to expect from our people and brands.

    Best regards,

    David Canty
    Vice President, Global Loyalty Programmes, IHG® Rewards Club

  12. Jason Hindle says:

    “IHG ALREADY refuses to give you any IHG Rewards Club points on your room rate, or stay credit, if you book via Expedia, hotels.com etc. ”

    Interesting. I thought the corporate travel agent from heck used Expedia, exclusively. Yet a couple of months back I made platinum in a single stay, in Harare*. I shall have to check with them, and ensure they use the correct web site. The corporate TA guarantee with a corporate card, but I use my own Amex card on arrival.

    * And it was lovely that everyone on the front desk recognised status-less me, after a two and half year absence, giving me an upgrade on arrival.

  13. Hello,
    Not sure if this is the correct place, but I just wanted to raise awareness of what happened to me this week: I have recently contacted IHG support about a few bookings that were done on my account that I do not recognise, initially whoever hacked into it booked a hotel in Florida, it was cancelled soon after and another booking was made in your hotel in China, I have not been in China, someone else made these bookings, I have not received confirmation e-mails about any of these bookings and only noticed it when I logged into my account yesterday.
    They have not yet explained how my details were leaked? they stole 20k points worth, so be careful with your IHG account, if they had someone stealing member’s details, there is a good chance someone else will be targeted next.
    Thank you

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