Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) increases award prices during the pandemic because, well, that’s who they are.
IHG Increases Award Prices
If you follow other Boarding Area blogs, you’ve likely seen that some IHG hotels have once again increased the cost of IHG points required for a free night. Just a few years ago, the top price for any property in the hotel chain didn’t exceed 50,000 points per night.
Those days are long, long gone. Select properties have now moved on the award chart from 70,000 (heretofore the previous high redemption rate) to more than 100,000 points per night. IHG recently purchased a few chains at the top end of the market, but these are not reserved for the 25 newly acquired Regent and Six Senses properties. There’s even a Holiday Inn thrown in the mix at 109,000/night and it’s only a matter of time before the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia or Hotel Indigo Houston Galleria ascends to rates usually reserved for the top of the food chain.
More Proof IHG Hates Its Members
I have railed on IHG for how it treats its members, most specifically, its elites. IHG is one of the largest chains in the world and it’s an utter miracle that they’ve been able to operate with complete apathy for their most loyal customers.
All hotel chains move some properties up and down from year to year, but a word to the wise (or in IHG’s case, whoever is still paying attention), this probably isn’t the year to add a 30-40% premium on ANY hotel redemptions. The market is just showing the earliest signs of recovery in the US, and their move is to penalize those who hold IHG Rewards points?
When compared to the rest of the chains, IHG has the highest requirements for top-tier elite status (Spire) at 75 nights. It charges, yes charges, members for Ambassador status assuming they meet the other qualifications. The program’s biggest benefit (in exchange for $200/year) is a free weekend night certificate and a credit for the minibar. Late checkout is rare and 2pm at best, there’s no free breakfast – ever. Upgrades are scarce though not impossible, but nowhere near programs like Hyatt and Hilton which routinely upgrade or guarantee an upgrade. That assumes that you’re staying in one of the couple dozen properties where an upgrade would be significant.
IHG Rewards is so bad it makes Marriott Bonvoy look saintly.
I revert to my previous statement: if there was ever a year to do this, we could safely say 2020 and 2021 would not be those years.
Fool Me Once, Shame on You
Many readers on this site already know that IHG hates its elites and obviously loathes those who collect their points. Even if that statement seems too extreme, they’d have a hard time defending their move in this regard. But my contention isn’t for the loyal readers here or informed travelers – they already know that IHG would be better off without a loyalty program altogether because at least then they wouldn’t disrespect their own customers.
Where I think the real sin is being committed is their new customers, first-time enrollees in their program, first-time IHG credit cardholders, they don’t know IHG like we do. They didn’t expect them to jack the prices up before they could even redeem their points.
This reminds me of the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
In this case, IHG has done something shameful, they’ve increased rates on hotels that their members have had practically no opportunity to redeem for in the last year. Just as it appears they will be able to soon, they increase the cost of award nights without notice. New members often save for hotels they want to visit, aspirational properties like Fiji. Properties costing 70,000 now 100,000 or more are out of reach for many.
It’s a shame that IHG increased award prices and hates its elites. I’d love to try out a Six Senses property or Regent, I have had good experiences at the Kimpton hotels I’ve stayed at, however, that’s likely down to Kimpton as an existing brand and not their new overlords. What’s frustrating is that IHG not only doesn’t care to add value to their program or at least elevate to the level of their peers but continually lowers the value of their own program. Best of all they did it at a critical moment in time that shouldn’t be forgotten.
What do you think? Was this a good time for IHG to increase its award chart? Are you a loyal IHG Rewards member? Why?
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