InterContinental mulling positive changes to the Ambassador scheme

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By coincidence I had an article lined up for this week on how Ambassador works, but I will push it back a few days so as not to confuse it with this one.  If you want to read a general overview of the InterContinental Ambassador PAID loyalty programme, it will appear over the weekend and you can find out more on the IHG website here.

A reader who is a member of the invite-only IHG Rewards Club Advisors panel sent me a questionnaire he received on potential changes to the Ambassador membership package.

It looks pretty good to me and would address the main weakness of the current package which is the lack of breakfast and lounge benefits.

(Some hotels, frankly, have been having a laugh at the expense of Ambassador members over upgrades.  When I was at InterContinental Abu Dhabi, for example, my ‘guaranteed’ upgrade got me a Club Floor room but I was banned from using the lounge.  This meant that my upgrade benefit didn’t seem to get me anything more than a robe in the bathroom.)

Here is what is being proposed, click to enlarge:

Changes to InterContinental Ambassador programme

The first thing current members will spot is that membership would (and I stress this is only a proposal) go up to $250 – from $200 – for the first year, and presumably $200 – from $150 – to renew. However, the benefits are much improved:

free breakfast for one person per night (Le Grand in Paris is currently €45 I think, if you’re looking for a comparison, and the Amstel in Amsterdam is similar)

$20 food and beverage credit (presumably per stay although it isn’t clear)

annual free night certificate (the word ‘weekend’ has been removed, which implies it could be valid seven days although that feels unlikely from a commercial perspective)

Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club (a welcome change from the current paltry free Gold Elite status)

There are two strong new benefits when you hit a “membership milestone” – although it isn’t at all clear what the “milestone” would be (number of nights?, a certain level of spend?, number of years of membership?):

annual pass to a Club InterContinental lounge (not clear if it would be for your full stay or just one night)

annual suite upgrade voucher for use during a paid stay

The two key existing benefits:

a guaranteed one category upgrade

4pm check-out

would remain.  The ‘free pay TV movie’ benefit would disappear but that is rarely used these days I imagine.

If InterContinental went ahead with this – and it is only a proposal – then I think it would represent a real improvement, although I am already a big fan of the Ambassador package as it stands.  Free breakfast for one instead of two is not ideal but I get a feeling that IHG will sell this to the hotels on the basis that it will encourage couples on leisure trips to pay for one breakfast whilst at the moment they are eating outside.

In a couple of days I’ll run a general overview of the current Ambassador package and why I like it.  You can learn more on the Ambassador section of the IHG website.

(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. Tris Casson-Rennie says:

    The IHG Ambassador scheme is well overdue an overhaul. However it will only be as good as its implementation across the InterContinental estate.
    The free movie has started to become obsolete as people are streaming these days, however that was about the only “family” benefit. Perhaps something like a complimentary Planet Trekkers Activity for your family per stay would have been a suitable replacement? Far too much emphasis on corporates and not enough on those of us that choose to spend hard earned cash…perhaps I digress.
    The elevation to Platinum Ambassador is a welcome return to how Ambassador membership always was in EMEA.
    I would like to have seen an announcement around Lifetime status being considered and would bring them into line with other hotel loyalty schemes.
    Still any overhaul that adds value is welcome. ????

  2. Simon Neville says:

    I really like the free movie option, its something i’d never normally pay for so it does become a treat when you’re tired after exploring a new city or just chilling, can’t imagine it costs that much to keep it in there.

    The other question mark of value would be around the points rebate when you renew, that must have quite a cost / benefit associated with it…

  3. OT I’m a Plat and 2 weeks ago referred my wife , she used the link and applied successfully for gold. Nothing appeared on my account re referral. Just called and was told accounts couldn’t see link(definately used) but they would give me the 9000 MR for a referral to gold card. Is this correct 9000 not 18000? Thanks

    • Bonglim says:

      Pretty sure it is 18000

    • Did you clear cookies first? If you’ve already browsed the page then the first impression will be what counts, regardless of whether you did or didn’t click the right link later. You might find google got some of your bonus!

      The key with this game is ALWAYS to use a non-saved-cookie browser to book. There’s also a message saying ‘you have been referred’ on the page – screenshot that. Then if you need to prove you did click a link, then you have something to use. Otherwise you could try reading your own cookies, which should show the referral (if indeed it was valid), and sending them that.

      If it’s not a valid referral, then 9000 ex gratia is a very good result.

  4. Wally1976 says:

    Another OT sorry. Just been declined for the free Virgin credit card. Credit record is excellent but I did upgrade my Amex PRG to Platinum only a few days ago so that could be why. Any tips on getting Virgin to overturn their decision? Thanks.

  5. OT:
    Does anyone know how you claim back APD or any other costs on flight that you booked but didn’t fly.

    Also seem to have opened me up a new Exec club account was wondering if this benefits me in anyway or I should just ignore it is one even allowed 2 accounts?

  6. very OT – Is there anyway to check how full/empty a BA flight is?

    • You can get a rough guide using the ‘Seat Alert’ app from Expert Flyer, but I don’t know of any 100 accurate method.

  7. Genghis says:
    • Jonathan says:

      Just be mindful that the figures quoted will be for tickets available for sale so will include provision for overselling (varies by route). Most extreme example is Premium Economy which BA will often significantly oversell on basis they can roll people forward into larger Business cabins. A PE ticket sale may also remove a seat from Business investory but not change figure in PE. Revenue management is a murky world. It’s widely accepted that in First they will only oversell by max 1 though. Equally seat maps are a useless indicator of loads as most people don’t pick a seat till check-in.

  8. Breakfast for one?

  9. ankomonkey says:

    OT, but hotel related – I contacted a Marriott hotel I’m staying in from 21/8. Their reply started like this:

    “As you heard that from 18th August 2018, Marriott Reward and Sherwood Preferred Guest…”

    Anyone who dared suggest Marriott staff aren’t all fully briefed and on-the-ball with what’s going on, take note!

  10. Lewis Taylor says:

    OT – I have got the BA premium + but I can’t see the tab on the app where it shows the progress towards the spend target. Is this normal? I definetly remember seeing it with the Amex gold.

    P.s I added a supplementary card holder and got a 3000 avios bonus that wasn’t even advertised and I havnt saw it mentioned on here

    • Do you see “You have two offers on your card” ? If so, click on it.

      3000 supp bonus: mentioned in comments earlier today and yesterday, to name only two.

    • Jonathan says:

      AmEx app/website notoriously flakey with progress towards spend target. It may reappear in a few days or you might have to call up to get an accurate figure.

  11. Rob MC says:

    Has anyone ever managed to get the Lloyds upgrade voucher expiry extended?

    • Not in itself AFAIK, however, I think I recall people saying they could use the voucher again on a new flight provided they rebooked at the same time as cancelling the original flight (I.e., voucher was not returned to account). If this is true it is a potential workaround to extend the voucher for up to 12 months for £35.

  12. Had the survey now – was quite pleased to also earn 5k points (£20) for letting them know my views 🙂

    • That’s nice 🙂 My pet hate is endless surveys requiring my time for free. Few companies give us anything for free, don’t see why they should expect us to do it for them.

    • Genghis says:

      … assuming they post. My survey email went to spam and I only found it when I was looking for the VS credit card activation code email, which also went to spam. In short, check your spam to see if you got an easy 5k.

    • OMG, that’s GENEROUS! A rare virtue nowadays

  13. OT: Iberia Plus – hit 90 days since account opened, 3 days ago, combine my Avios says account is less than 3 months old, fair enough I thought lets wait full 3 months even though Avios terms clearly says 90 days not 3 months, today hit the 3 month milestone, but combine my Avios still not working, spoke to the wonderful Iberia customer service center, told that accounts take 72 hours to activate in the first place so should try again on Sunday, apparently its 3 months since account activated once again contrary to terrms…day 97 or 3 months and 3 days!

    thankfully the 90k Avios cost me £400, if I had paid at groupon rates at 1p/avios I would not be happy that they are holding back my transfer.

    • Genghis says:

      Expensive. I paid half that.

      • Sorry £400 for 2 people, mine are being transfered, other half’s account was new so I accept that we will be booking with her points directly from iberia

        Combine my avios now working, 95th day i think, 3 months and 1 day.

      • Lady London says:

        I usually miss everything but this one I took a punt on.

        I paid £275 on flights which overall I have a 50% likelihood of taking. That calculated out to
        the same price as I would have paid on another airline for flights I actually need. I know I could have done it for less. But even reading HfP I’ve not got the guts to really exploit something.

        Not sure if I have done the right thing but my work pattern is I can go somewhere either virtually immediately, or possibly (but not always) in the break between Christmas and New Year. I used all of them on a flight that was retailing for £700-£800 return over that period and has escalated in price hugely since (being Christmas period). I couldn’t pay just the £700-£800 and earn the miles and points because I need the flexibility to cancel and rebook. This is why I sent Iberia a legal notice saying I needed to keep the right I had at promotion booking time, to change a booking i had made. For that time of year, if I find myself free, cost of miles/real value of miles + ‘taxes’, plus the loss of earnings there would have been on a cash ticket, was close enough to OK for the flexibility to cancel and yet guarantee me a seat at a hard time of year to get any reasonable price if I do turn out to be able to travel.

        Not sure if I’ve made the right decision. The numbers don’t quite stack up to this being a good use of money/points but the value of the option to do something I generally can’t afford to do at Christmas if I do find myself free, was what I paid for.

  14. Travel Strong says:

    Do we think venetian/palazzo will be on board with honouring any of the first 5 bullet points? If they are – I’m in. But I just can’t see it.

    • Venetian doesnt have a buffet
      The room upgrade would likely be to one of the rooms on the third set of elevators
      They gave me 2pm checkout last time I was there.

  15. Premier01 says:

    Obviously only a proposal, but is the annual lounge pass a one-time pass for 1 guest and 1 night per year only?

    • Genghis says:

      What’s written is what is proposed. In my survey response I basically ripped the ambiguity of this to shreds.

    • Who knows? The suite upgrade wouldn’t be one night of a multi-night stay would it?!

  16. I got that email too. The good thing about participating in the survey was 5000 IHG points in the bank…

  17. Good for 5k bonus points, every little helps but all a bit underwhelming…
    As with so many ‘improvements’ you have to mindful of what they don’t say.
    A current benefit not mentioned is the 10% points used ‘refund’, this has been very useful indeed to me and is a great perk that I would hate to see go, no mention of it here.
    I presume Club access would be for one guest as with the breakfast but it would be a very nice extra,.I’m not sure what the ‘Milestone’ will be, the anniversary maybe?
    I did read that the upgrade was for paid stays only but every time I’ve stayed with points I’ve had an upgrade, sometimes to a stunning room as in the IC Porto, a beautiful hotel.
    Keeping the 4pm check out is great although I did hear that there is also the ability to check in early, i.e. from 8am if available.
    Also it’s $50 extra making not such a good deal. Still we did all get a nice luggage tag free!
    Lets’ see what happens…

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