A long, long time ago ….. 23rd September 2019 to be precise! ….. IHG Rewards Club announced that it was launching an ‘earn and burn’ partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith.
It is, finally, live – but at fewer than 10 hotels this week.
You can learn more about the partnership on ihg.com here.
What is Mr & Mrs Smith?
Originally launched as a pure booking agent, Mr & Mrs Smith has evolved over the years to become a ‘marketing brand’, in the same way as Design Hotels or Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Hotels remain fully independent but benefit from being part of a broader marketing consortium.
Recent years have seen Small Luxury Hotels become a Hyatt partner and Design Hotels become a Marriott partner. Do you spot a trend?
This new deal, at a stroke, doubles the number of luxury hotels where you can earn and redeem IHG Rewards Club points. Many will be unique boutique properties.
Amazingly, it also puts IHG into 11 countries where it didn’t previously have a single hotel.
How will the integration with IHG Rewards Club work?
This is, as I said at the top, an ‘earn and burn’ partnership.
To quote from the 2019 press release:
“IHG Rewards Club members will be able to earn and redeem points across hundreds of luxury and boutique hotels around the world, including some of Smith’s most seductive stays, such as Jasper Conran’s self-styled riad hideaway L’Hôtel Marrakech, 18th-century organic Tuscan estate Borgo Pignano, high-in-the-Himalayas retreat The Kumaon and the charming Old Rectory on South Africa’s famed Garden Route. IHG’s most loyal members can expect free room upgrades whenever available and a free gift, called a Smith Extra, on arrival at each Mr & Mrs Smith hotel.”
Are there status benefits for IHG Rewards Club elite members?
Yes there are. To quote:
- InterContinental Ambassador and Royal Ambassador members, plus Kimpton Inner Circle members, will receive: (a) complimentary room upgrade when available, and (b) Goldsmith welcome amenity when available
- Elite IHG Rewards Club members will receive their tier Bonus Points on eligible room rates (10% Gold Elite, 50% Platinum Elite, 100% Spire Elite)
- All IHG Rewards Club members booking through IHG channels will receive select BlackSmith program benefits
How is the rollout going to work?
Yesterday IHG launched Mr & Mrs Smith at a handful of properties. This is, I am told, to ensure that the system works properly.
By the end of October, IHG hopes to have 100 hotels bookable.
By the end of November, IHG hopes to have 400+ properties available.
The million dollar question …. are IHG Rewards Club redemptions via Mr & Mrs Smith a good deal?
You’re expecting me to say ‘No’. However ….. it’s not bad.
Regular readers will know that I value an IHG Rewards Club point at 0.4p. You can do better than this, on peak dates, but I am happy to redeem if I achieve this.
Let’s look at some random bookings for 10th November. IHG told me that hotels may come and go during the trial so you may not see these properties as bookable today.
UK: The Crown, Amersham
£105 or 22,500 points = 0.47p
US: Cambria Beach Lodge, Cambria, CA
$167.92 or 30,000 points = 0.44p
Italy: Villa Cora, Florence (picture above)
Not available as a reward on 11th November. I did find reward nights in February which priced at:
€324.50 or 67,500 points = 0.41p
It is worth noting that, even though these are ‘revenue based’ redemptions (ie the points price moves with the cash price), IHG is still only making standard rooms available. This is a big missed opportunity in my view, since IHG should be ambivalent over which room type is booked.
What I don’t understand is why Villa Cora was not bookable as a redemption when IHG was offering rooms for cash. There is clearly more to it than simple revenue based pricing.
If the redemption rate remains around 0.45p then the IHG / Mr & Mrs Smith partnership could prove valuable. Let’s see if the pricing moves once the main batch of hotels is loaded.
You can learn more about the partnership on the IHG website here.