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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.)

Comments (97)

  • Steve says:

    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.

      • Steve says:

        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.

  • 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.

    • r* says:

      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.

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

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

  • George says:

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

  • Marc says:

    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…