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IHG suite upgrade vouchers – any feedback so far?

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  • AnotherUser

    Trying to decide whether it’s worth moving a few nights of IHG points stays to cash stays, as I’ll be close to 20 nights this year. Any experience with these upgrades – worthwhile?

    Also, have IHG softened the wording for what hotels are expected to offer Diamond members in the way of upgrades? The website now says “Room upgrades are subject to availability, at the hotel’s discretion, and will only apply to the Member’s personal guest room. Upgrades may include next best available room, such as suites, rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms, or rooms with preferred views”. https://www.ihg.com/content/gb/en/customer-care/member-tc/2nd-page
    FWIW, my experience of upgrades as Diamond in the new system has been no better than as Spire in the old.

    Andrew J

    I think that’s for the standard available at checkin upgrades rather than the confirmable in advance suite upgrades which the voucher gives you.

    ChrisC

    The only “new” things I recognise that have changed over previous descriptions is that it’s specified that upgrade is only for the members room and clarification of what rooms count as an upgrade.

    And given diamond is basically a renamed spire I wouldn’t expect too many changes to the number of upgrades people experience.

    As to your first point I’d only go for the voucher if you know you are going to be staying in an IHG hotel where you’d like like to at least try to use the voucher in the next year or so (it’s valid for a year after you choose the benefit which you can do up to 90 days after earning it.)

    AnotherUser

    You’re right @Andrew – sorry if I was unclear. With IHG’s PR about the new system I’d hoped that Diamond members would see more upgrades (even without the confirmable in advance suite upgrades) but was probably too optimistic.

    I’ll be travelling in the next year (I hope) enough that I could use the confirmable suite upgrade easily enough. Though admittedly that might end up with me paying £2X to stay in a suite in an IHG hotel where I could have got a perfectly nice room in an indy hotel for £X (which I guess is the intention!)

    d1ps

    Anyone managed to stack a suite upgrade whilst being Diamond Ambassador?
    With all these half point stays, im getting close to hitting that first milestone.

    Do you get effectively a double upgrade? What would the recommend approach be?
    1. Book the stay and lock in the Ambassador upgrade by emailing the hotel?
    2. 14 days before the stay contact IHG as per the guidelines to apply the suite upgrade?

    Any recommend hotels where such double upgrades delivers outsize value? If its going to be 5 days and abroad it might need some planning!

    Thanks

    dst87

    My assumption is that they’ll upgrade you to the lowest suite available, so if you booked the basic room and then got an Ambassador upgrade to the next category, I don’t see why that’d affect what they upgraded you to – it’d still be the lowest suite, at least to my understanding.

    I’m going to call tomorrow to attempt to use my voucher for a 4-night stay… we’ll see how it goes!

    dst87

    I called IHG this morning and the process was reasonably smooth. I first got through to someone on I guess the wrong team who seemed confused, but once I got to the correct person they were friendly and helpful.

    Upgraded from a 1 Queen Bed Essentials room (booked using the Railcard rate) to a 1 King Bed 1 Bedroom Suite (not the bottom suite, but the lowest they had showing online).

    Very happy, and glad to see that the railcard / corporate rate didn’t cause any issues. From a £289 / night room to a £708 / night room (not that I’d have been willing to pay it).

    ChrisC

    Good to knowe thr railcard rate is a valid corporate rate to be able to use the voucher with as most of my cash bookings use the railcard rate!

    I’ve not claimed my voucher yet but I did get a reminder to claim my 20 stay benefot this morning. I have until 9th September to do that.

    Paul B

    I chose 5k points over the Suite Upgrade Voucher. Maybe I was a bit premature but read the best flex rate policy and assumed alongside that the upgrade was dependent on availability in the same style as Marriott’s SNA’s.

    dst87

    I chose 5k points over the Suite Upgrade Voucher. Maybe I was a bit premature but read the best flex rate policy and assumed alongside that the upgrade was dependent on availability in the same style as Marriott’s SNA’s.

    It is dependent on availability, and that was a big concern of mine – all lower level suites being sold out 14 days out. I was fully prepared for a battle (or disappointment) when I called today. I had already noticed online that the lowest suite had no availability shown, and I also had concerns about the Railcard rate that I had used.

    I suspect if only a premium / named suite (like the Fitzroy suite) was available I would not have been eligible, but it seems like there may be some flexibility in the pool of suites that are eligible.

    Pangolin

    I’d choose the F&B vouchers as the milestone reward if they were available. I don’t care that much about getting a suite (and don’t want the faff of calling some hotline and trying to find availability), and the F&B credit looks better value than the points anyway.

    I should reach the 30-night milestone in September, and am still waiting for F&B to come online before selecting my 20-night reward (I have till October).

    Obviously if I reach the 40 night milestone (aiming to get this in December) I will choose the lounge access 🙂

    NorthernLass

    I need to get my head round the new system, I didn’t when it was introduced as I didn’t think either of us would be Diamond next year. Is it stays or nights which count? Planning another US road trip for next summer and could rack up quite a lot of nights at HIs etc without breaking the bank.

    dst87

    I need to get my head round the new system, I didn’t when it was introduced as I didn’t think either of us would be Diamond next year. Is it stays or nights which count? Planning another US road trip for next summer and could rack up quite a lot of nights at HIs etc without breaking the bank.

    Nights are what counts for the milestone rewards. And those rewards are, I believe, independent of IHG One _status_. So with 20 cheap nights, for example, you could get a suite upgrade while still being Gold (assuming no status from elsewhere).

    Aston100

    Anyone know what would happen if you have a seven night stay and wanted to use the suite upgrade voucher?
    Would it be rejected immediately, or would the voucher be applied for five of the nights and then you’d be moved to the room type you’d originally booked for the remaining two nights?? or something else?

    JohnG

    Nights are what counts for the milestone rewards. And those rewards are, I believe, independent of IHG One _status_. So with 20 cheap nights, for example, you could get a suite upgrade while still being Gold (assuming no status from elsewhere).

    I think in general if someone isn’t going to hit Platinum/Diamond by stays, but are getting enough nights to be earning milestone rewards then it’s going to be worth paying for Ambassador (and getting IHG Platinum by extension). You’re likely to get 20k+ extra points just by the higher status bonus and welcome amenities if you do around 30 nights, with the ambassador voucher and other softer platinum benefits as well.

    Ambassador + managing 40 nights every other year seems to be a loyalty sweetspot, especially if you stay in hotels with lounges a couple of times a year.

    Rob
    HfP Staff
    Rob
    HfP Staff

    Anyone know what would happen if you have a seven night stay and wanted to use the suite upgrade voucher?
    Would it be rejected immediately, or would the voucher be applied for five of the nights and then you’d be moved to the room type you’d originally booked for the remaining two nights?? or something else?

    My best guess is that you’d need to make a 5 night booking, upgrade it and then add another 2 nights later and ask nicely at check in if you can keep the room.

    memesweeper

    Anyone know what would happen if you have a seven night stay and wanted to use the suite upgrade voucher?
    Would it be rejected immediately, or would the voucher be applied for five of the nights and then you’d be moved to the room type you’d originally booked for the remaining two nights?? or something else?

    My best guess is that you’d need to make a 5 night booking, upgrade it and then add another 2 nights later and ask nicely at check in if you can keep the room.

    If you read the comments on the LL piece you’ll find that’s exactly what you need to do. Comments generally suggesting the whole suite upgrade process is haphazard and a bit more of a faff than even I’d be happy with.

    Aston100

    Wow, reading that LL article it sounds like these suite upgrade vouchers are going to cause a lot of headache.
    No lounge access either.

    Also, if you need to call no earlier than fourteen days before your stay, surely there is a risk that appropriate suites might have sold out? By which time you are pretty much stuck with your hotel as alternatives may have sold out or gone up in price.

    NorthernLass

    There’s another LL article about hotels trying to wriggle out of giving free breakfast to Diamonds (well, more in the comments than the article). On 2 of my bookings since the changes were introduced (Kimpton Seafire in July, the Willard for December), I’ve had welcome emails outlining the breakfast benefit, the rest have been silent so far but I’m intending to send them all a standard email asking what the arrangements are for Diamonds to avoid any misunderstandings at check in! (And phone calls to the IHG call centre in the Philippines which one reader seems to have spent a lot of his stay doing).

    ChrisC

    Wow, reading that LL article it sounds like these suite upgrade vouchers are going to cause a lot of headache.
    No lounge access either.

    Also, if you need to call no earlier than fourteen days before your stay, surely there is a risk that appropriate suites might have sold out? By which time you are pretty much stuck with your hotel as alternatives may have sold out or gone up in price.

    A caveat in that I’ve not read that article.

    Surely you’re booking the hotel because you want to stay there in a room you’re happy to be in and not because of the chance of an upgrade?

    These vouchers are still offering a “free” upgrade so are still availability dependent. Perhaps upgrade availability will be better 14 days in advance then on the day of arrival?

    And not all hotels have lounge / club access anyway and an upgrade doesn’t get you lounge access anyway. I’ll relate a recent experience at the LHR T4 CP separately

    ChrisC

    @NorthernLass my last couple of arrivals (other than the LHR CP) have involved the staff offering the breakfast as the first rather than the last option of welcome benefit.

    One was a HI and the other a Kimpton.

    John

    Depending on the situation, I might have a backup booking elsewhere if I was hoping to get a suite upgrade that didn’t materialise.

    JohnG

    Surely you’re booking the hotel because you want to stay there in a room you’re happy to be in and not because of the chance of an upgrade?

    This doesn’t seem like the most logical conclusion: There is no reason to think you get a more favourable suite upgrade if you book a more expensive room so unless you’re happy with the lowest category room in the hotel this would waste a considerable amount of money, and if anything it seems illogical to book a room you’re happy in then consume a voucher to upgrade it. I would think the majority of people trying to optimise the value of the voucher will be looking for hotels where they can book into low category rooms and get bumped to base suites that are notable improvements. The inability to confirm until shortly before the stay is likely to lead to a lot of people either making two bookings (one for cheapest room which they hope to upgrade and one for a better room they would be happy with, then cancelling one of the two depending on whether the suite upgrade is possible or not); or booking a backup at an entirely different hotel.

    Agree on your other points. Expecting lounge access thrown in seems like a stretch too far for a freebie voucher.

    Aston100

    What JohnG said.

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