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:
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
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.
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