To Enjoy Benefits With IHG Rewards in 2017, You Must Book Your Reservations Directly

A  notice was sent out via e-mail message which alerted recipients that in order to enjoy benefits with IHG Rewards in 2017, you must book your reservations directly — and not through other Internet travel booking web sites — effective as of Sunday, January 1, 2017.

“Why?” is the question asked in the e-mail message. “We want to give you the best travel experience — from start to finish — every time. And we can only do that when you book with us directly.”

You can book your reservations directly using the following methods in order to take full advantage of the benefits that come with your IHG Rewards Club membership:

  • The official Internet web site of InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Internet web sites of the portfolio of brands of InterContinental Hotels Group
  • The mobile software application program of InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Central reservations of InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Direct through the hotel or resort property
  • Corporate travel sites

Benefits of IHG Rewards

The benefits of membership in the IHG Rewards program listed in the e-mail message include:

  • Your Rate, which is a special rate for the exclusive use of members of the IHG Rewards program
  • Points which you can earn, track and redeem for “rewarding experiences”
  • Personalised rewards and offers to help you make the most of every stay
  • Reward Nights with no blackout dates
  • Complimentary upgrades are always a nice surprise

Reaction From Frequent Travelers

Lodging companies, airlines and other corporations in the travel industry are not only notorious for using marketing to glorify what is typically perceived as either negative news or devaluations; but they also tend to confuse the very customers to whom the message is targeted, as exemplified by this discussion on FlyerTalk:

“What are they talking about?” asked FlyerTalk member htb. “I thought you already had to book directly through them in order to take advantage of any benefits ‘that come with an IHG® Rewards Club membership.’ Why? Because they changed that a couple of years back.”

Also currently being debated is whether or not American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts and Virtuoso qualify for benefits with the IHG Rewards Club frequent guest loyalty program — as well as rebate portals; Internet web sites which offer cash back on purchases; whether or not benefits conferred with Ambassador elite level status are affected; and other potential issues as well.

FlyerTalk member Concerto offers a warning: “There was also a link in my email encouraging me to book 1,000 bonus points nights and I starting sifting around looking at bookings until I realized the prices were absurdly high. So I just went back to the normal IHG site (ihg.com) and found MUCH better prices there. For example, IC Barclay in New York was pricing out at $351 on the link in my email message. Through the normal IHG site (I couldn’t immediately see any difference between the sites) it was $159. So, beware!”

Summary

Do not look towards the best rate guarantee — where the first night is free if you find a less expensive room rate elsewhere — to be of much help, as it is not exactly known as the best in the lodging industry. If you are unsuccessful at procuring a best rate guarantee from InterContinental Hotels Group, you may very well find yourself having to choose between a cheaper room rate or benefits as a member of IHG Rewards starting in 2017.

While this news does not exactly portend the end of the world as we know it, it is yet another tightening of the policies of another frequent guest loyalty program; and members of the IHG Rewards Club frequent guest loyalty program — such as FlyerTalk member Oaxaca — are disappointed.

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

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