The purpose of offering a promotion is to gain interaction, drive incremental sales, and engage a customer base. But when your promotion is so bad that customers don’t respond, why run one at all?
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Promotions Are Important to Drive Incremental Activity
A certain amount of customers will make a purchase decision no matter what. In the case of hotels that purchase decision may be down to location, cost, amenities or brand. But for those at the periphery, where competition could win the day, promotions are one way to earn the business from those who might be subject to go elsewhere.
Promotions, especially with hotel chains, have a way of delivering that incremental business. It’s a cheaper way of getting guests into hotels across the business without engaging in price wars. It also aims at those who have the ability to steer the economic decisions and encourage their best customers to even further entrench themselves with the business.
Fall and winter are particularly important times to bring more heads into beds for hotels as holiday periods can slow normal business travel.
IHG’s Promotions Have Gotten Worse Over Time
The Accelerate promotions that IHG have offered have been positive for some in the past. When I had a customer that required me to choose between IHG and Hilton, IHG won out for a time due to the quality of the Accelerate offers I received.
I used to recieve offers for over 100,000 IHG points. The activity required to achieve that would make me touch a number of different brands, stay during the week using business rates, weekends, and usually about 20-25 nights during the period.
This year I remain a Spire with IHG (my earned Spire status last two years) but haven’t stayed with the brand at all. You’d think I would be a target to get back into the fold – I have spent more than 180 nights with the brand in the previous 24 months.
In the latest quarter, my personalized Accelerate promotion has just 28,900 points on offer and requires just 6 nights to earn the points. How does that help either of us? I don’t have enough incentive to get back with the brand (bonus too low) and the brand might pick up six nights from me, but that’s not a terrific prize for them either.
The brand also recently changed their once very popular Pointsbreak promotion from 5,000 points per night for an extensive list to limiting the list and adding segments for 10,000 and 15,000 points per night. Initially, I hoped the new higher point offerings would bring better hotels into the promotion. Maybe it did, but customers aren’t responding.
Promotions With Low Response Rate Reflect Poor Value
Loyalty Traveler recently posted that many of the, once extremely popular, Pointsbreak properties remain available long after they were posted for the quarter.
That’s not good.
It’s specifically poor when you place into context that Pointsbreaks were once snatched up almost immediately, creating so much excitement that posts would come out with preview lists the days ahead so enthusiasts could plot their redemptions as soon as they were released. Adding injury to insult, those points can be purchased for as little as $5/1,000 points – meaning that even $25-75/night rooms are completely uninspiring.
When interest drops off on $25/night rooms – things have taken a turn for the worse.
It’s no secret that IHG hates their elites; their Spire requirements are the highest in the industry and yield the fewest benefits. But now that Accelerate has fallen off, and even $25 hotel nights with Pointsbreaks don’t inspire their membership, maybe it’s time that IHG reconsiders loyalty.
What do you think? What are some of the worst promotions you’ve seen? Is there something I am missing with IHG’s offering? Why don’t they try harder?
I most miss the 50% off points required for reward stays in certain IHG’s in Mexico and the Caribbean which were offered twice a year in the spring and fall.
More confirmation, Karen, that their promotions have fallen off outside of the two I mentioned.
Totally agree, Hilton for the past 3 or 4 years has consistently offered quarterly bonus and easy status matches which moved me over. With Gold and Diamond with Hilton you get breakfast for free at every hotel in the chain. Spire, I get no benefit that comes close and my accelerate bonus is sometimes less than 10000 points. If you also take into account the down grade of the IHG branded credit cards and the better value of Hilton Amex credit cards, staying at IHG has become even less appealing. Hilton offers 5000 point hotels at all times including the Hilton Garden Inn Bali.
Not only do I agree, but I will raise you an entire post about how you could live in Bali for about a million Hilton points at that very hotel: http://bit.ly/2Ry6m9U
I think the claim that Spire is one of the hardest statuses to earn in the industry is factually incorrect. I think it is one of the easiest top-tier statuses to earn.
Your other points are a case of YMMV. My last few Accelerates were in the 50k – 120k range, and IHG isn’t my primary program. Typically, I am able to complete one or two Accelerates in a row. Then I leave one out (or complete only a small part). That way, the tasks don’t get too hard.
As for PointBreaks: Personally, I had usuable bookings in each of the last few iterations. This time, I merely booked the brand-new HI Gdansk. But the iterations before, I booked the IC MSP, the IC Sofia, the IC Ljubljana, the IC Bucharest, an HI in Munich, among others. All great properties (the IC Bucharest perhaps being the one least good).
@Joachim: My quote was actually that IHG has the “highest requirements” not that it’s the hardest to acquire. That remains true, matching Marriott’s Titanium tier with 75 nights/year. Hilton offers Diamond status with more benefits (fact, not a case of just for me) with either 30 stays or 60 nights, Hyatt Globalist (also more factual benefits) at 60 nights initially, 55 to retain. Even the tire fire, Bonvoy by Marriott adds more benefits for the same amount of nights.
If you travel to small cities in Europe, those Intercontinentals sound like a great option, if not, value can be hard to find – especially in Pointsbreaks.
Well, the fact is, since Marriott limits you to a max of 10 nights/year through meetings, you actually have to sleep yourself to status for the most part.
With IHG, there are much better options to get elite-qualifying points without spending money on accomodation or F&B.
So, achieving Spire from scratch is a piece of cake even if you have just 20 nights of, say, $150 each. With Spire being achievable with just $2k or $3k spend, the threshold is actually much lower than the ones of the competitors.
(The way to go is obv through the 75k points requirement, not through the 75 nights requirement which is indeed a high number.)
Ihg=I harbor greed
For the second Q in a row I’ve got the message I’m not eligible for accelerate – Gold elite with 148,000 points, very frustrating especially when no explanation can be given by IHG…
No way to encourage additional business than by excluding members who actively want to participate. Maybe instead of “Bonvoyed” for Marriott, we could rename IHG’s top elite level “Downward Spire?”
IHG has become a terrible program. I’ll burn the points I have already accumulated, but definitely am actively trying to move paid stays to other programs.
I am about to burn the remainder of my account. Way to take me from zero to hero and back again in three years in the program.
I’m a Spire Elite which alone would create no loyalty, but also a Kimtpon Inner Circle, which creates a lot of loyalty to Kimpton from me. The way that Kimtpon treated its Inner Circle guests is amazing a s has me hooked. As for the rest of IHG, not so much. This Accelerate offer for me was Stay 1x Earn 1000 points. I laughed and complained to the Inner Circle line and got more points, but this kind of thing actually creates disloyalty. They need new people running this program.
This was the first year I become Spire member because I passed the elite points threshold. Now I have experienced similar ‘humiliating’ accelerate promotion quarter by quarter, each with 20k points opportunity and complex tasks such as 17 nights or 9 weekends. I total relate to the “IHG hates elites” sentiments now!
With Spire membership, yes, besides more points per dollar spent, there are no additional practical benefits. I haven’t been offered a room upgrade, more likely to miss the welcome amenity points, and etc.
Could not agree more. I have been the highest level of rewards with IHG since 1998 ( spire now days). Until 2017 I would stay 50-60 nights a year with them but the last 3yrs I’ve moved to other hotel programs and don’t even stay 10 nights anymore. It’s mostly because other programs have gotten so much better with very generous rewards where as IHG just offers the same old points and bonuses for the last 7 yrs BUT back then most reward nights were 15-20k in points where as nowadays most reward nights are 25-40k in points for a free night.
Back 3,4,5 years ago I would always complete the promotions which would be worth maybe 60-80k in points. Back then those points would be worth 3-5 free nights. My most recent accelerate offer is 35k in points if I stay 8 nights and 6 different brands. But that’s maybe 1 free night? Why bother? I haven’t completed a promo since fall 2016. Now days I spend 50+ nights with Hilton and maybe 10 with IHG, and I get the feeling IHG could care less.
Your experience mirrors mine however my wife who has a lot of IHG stays and got an awesome offer. Mine was worse than yours and I’m a spire ambassador with less than 5 cash stays year to date. Weird.
Unrelated but I have hate-clicked on every Starbucks promotion since the Great Deval. Maybe some of these bozos are dumb enough to spend $10 to save $2 but I am not. Does that count as engagement???
1) I love the term hate-click, half of these fine blog posts are written in such a manner.
2) Starbucks offer? What did I miss?
They send crazy email offers like get 25 stars when you buy a grande frap and breakfast sandwich in the next 2 days. You have to click to activate.
Well I feel I made out like a bandit on their last accelerate. I stayed a total of 6 nights for an out-of-pocket cash expenditure of about 450 bucks and let it out after it was all said and done about 85,000 points. With the 10% rebate I get from having their old credit card I should easily be able to stay 6 to 9 nights only point. By the way on the same trip I redeemed 30000 points minus a 3000 Point rebate for three nights in two different hotels both of which were points breaks and both of which while I was there were running over $100 a night. In general I think their loyalty program isn’t crate and upgrades are hard to come by in fact they were impossible in the Northeast but the points back for the out-of-pocket dollars were hard to beat. That said I didn’t get nearly as good an accelerator all for this time so apparently they do throttle you back when you take advantage of one to the fullest extent.
Throttling back those who respond to their promotions makes no sense at all.
Yes they keep getting worse. My summer accelerate had a possible 32500 points but had to stay 4 weekends to accomplish but typically travel during the week so only earned 12k. The fall accelerate is a joke. 1 thousand points to stay once until December. My coworkers talked me into switching to Hilton Honors as they had a deal going on to switch and they would match my Spire Elite status
Very poorly written. You claim that “customers aren’t responding” however you provide no data to back that up beyond the fact that pointbreak offers stay available longer than before. How do you know that IHG hasn’t made more nights available?
@Poorly written – An expert, such as yourself, surely knows the difference between poorly written and poorly researched. Assuming it is the latter for which you take issue, IHG wouldn’t make that publicly available so there’s no amount of additional research that can be performed. However, there is anecdotal evidence. As a three-year Spire Ambassador, my own experience qualifies some, then there are the commenters who have generally agreed. Add the evidence that those nights once sold out instantly and now seem readily available, that the costs have risen and that Accelerate promotions have decreased and we have ourselves a causal case that seems to add up.
I am platinum status with their credit card. Besides a friendly front desk agent thanking me for my membership and a pair of drink tickets at the Intercontinental, I really don’t understand what this rewards program is good for. Some kind of non-existant room upgrade at a bland Holiday Inn? And to top it off, being a mastercard I can’t use it at Costco. I’m thinking about abandoning it for a different card. IHG, I hope you read this and make some fast changes.
I hope they take note as well.
I’m spite Elite three years running, and I pay for ambassador status to get the guaranteed room upgrade. I must say I agree with your post. I keep trying to maintain my status to maintain points to occasionally use in the rewards catalogue (e.g. bought a rowing machine the other day), and occasionally to stay on a city break with family – but I find that more and more I am tempted to stay at non IHG properties due to a combo of better/more aggressive pricing and more included benefits as standard. In general I find their IC properties overpriced for whats on offer and not worth paying *nearly double* what you can get elsewhere in the chain. I am also beginning to find that the reward night option gets greyed out more and more, even when booking well in advance (was considering staying in Arnhem Holland for a few nights holiday in June next year, their only property there is a HIEX – nearly 50% more than another chains better hotel, no reward nights available ).
The one thing that keeps me going at the moment however is that I could in theory get a full week’s all inclusive resort stay (e.g. in Aruba or Mexico) for my whole family just on points, I.e. “Just add flights”. I am considering switching my loyalty though.
We’ve stayed at that property in Aruba and those folks do care. But that’s not a good enough reason to stay with the brand. Put it this way, if you’re an earned Spire (75 nights), for an extra 10 nights you could Hyatt Globalist (55 nights) and Hilton Diamond (30 stays could be 30 nights).
It’s beyond weird. Someone buys your product 100 times but then stops, suddenly: don’t they want to know why?…Is the customer unhappy, buying somewhere else? How do we get him back?
IHG couldn’t care less: they make virtually zero effort to survey customers ( other than via some dodgy TripAdvisor linked reviews); they don’t try to recover a ‘lost’/ dormant customer with incentives via promos. In fact, they do sweet FA.
I’m a bit shocked by some of the passivity of hotel groups : none of them make much of an effort to win back lost customers, in contrast to other sellers of goods and services.
Bitter part of one.
If you’re going to be snide, you should at least proofread first.
I started using other brands when I realized the treatment I was getting at IHG hotels.
The other brands, of same quality, called me by name when I checked in and recognized that I had stayed in that particular hotel before.
When you are treated like cattle you begin to wander to see if there are greener fields nearby…
I got their credit card one year ago and did well w their intro point offers. It’s been hard to really earn and maintain since I used the big intro offers. I thought about canceling or somehow downgrading the card but realized it’s $89 and gets a free anniversary night (haven’t quite hit a year so waiting for that, although VERY bummed to find it basically excludes kimpton bc of points required). Anyways I figure $89 is a fine price to pay once a year for a free room but my Hilton card is baller, I see my points stack up like there is no tommorw and my diamond upgrades are usually so yeah, I’m 95% a Hilton exclusive now!