Yesterday, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced a number of changes to its loyalty scheme, IHG Rewards Club. According to the press release, the changes are “focused on building more personalized relationships with its 84 million members worldwide“.
Key changes include a new top level elite status with significant benefits, reduced requirements for elite status and continued non-expiry of points for elite IHG Rewards Club members. However, non-elite members will now need to prevent their points balances from expiring by earning or redeeming points once every 12 months. This is a significant change: previously, IHG Rewards Club points did not expire.
While some dates are stated below, there does not appear to be an exact date for all the changes, which will “evolve over 2015 and 2016”. The key initial developments will be as follows:
- Introducing a new, as yet unnamed, “top membership level” in July 2015. This new membership level requires 75,000 qualifying points or 75 qualifying nights, over a year. Top level members will also earn 100% bonus points on qualifying stays. In addition, upon qualification, members of this new level can choose between receiving 25,000 bonus points or upgrading a friend or family member to Platinum. However, this is apparently just the start, and “more will be revealed over the coming months”.
- The qualification requirements for all membership levels have been restructured to make it easier to gain elite status. Members will need to earn 10,000 qualifying points (previously 20,000) or stay for ten qualifying nights (previously 15 nights, or 10 nights across three brands, or payment of $50) for Gold membership. For Platinum status, members will need to earn 40,000 qualifying points (previously 60,000) or stay for 40 qualifying nights (previously 50). I am not clear on whether the “Gold for $50” option will remain, but there is nothing I have seen to suggest it won’t.
- Notably, starting from May 2016, IHG will expire all points for IHG Rewards Club Members if they have not earned or redeemed any points at all in the previous 12 months. Per IHG’s argument, you can put a positive spin on this: squeezing the less frequent IHG visitor potentially means IHG can better reward the guests who stay with it most often.
- On 1 May 2015, changes will be made to the points requirements for Reward Nights at approximately 450 hotels. In IHG’s own words, “less than 300 will be increasing by 5-10,000 points and 150 will be decreasing by 5,000 points”.