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Old Oct 10, 11, 8:08 am   #1
uk1
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Product Suggestion: Royal Ambassador Leisure Member

I have no idea whether anyone in ICHG Marketing lurks here so indulge me.

If I were a stick of Blackpool rock and you were to cut me in half what would be written through the middle would be “Marketeer with a weird mind” all the way through.

What I find frustrating about ICHG and indeed all of the hotel groups is how little they seem to want to engage with and understand what some of their more effluential leisure customers would really like from them. If they took the trouble both they and their customers would benefit. But I don't think that any or many of them get it.

We travel a lot. Often to the same places. Sometimes we go so often we think about buying a property. We made that mistake a few times ….. in fact we have a property in Nice if anyone is interested. Having bought it … we found we preferred Cannes …... Funnily enough mrs uk1 and I also spend time in Vienna and had considered having a place there … but we use the IC. We also have stays in Singapore. But we could go there much more often if the ICHG were more leisure friendly.

ICHG are quite content to see their RA's place many of the referral certs they give them on ebay and of course people buy them. ICHG seem to tolerate the practise although they could stop it if they wanted to. But they aren't prepared to take that cash themselves and sell certificates - and perhaps they shouldn't. I don't know. But perhaps they should think about a hybrid RA membership for leisure customers that they should sell. They need leisure customers. Business customers also need the leisure customers because increasing occupancy is good for all.

What I want is for them to sell me what I might call “Royal Ambassador Leisure” membership. Perhaps it could be around $350 per year. But they will get the cash not someone else. What I'd like for that is something along the lines of the current RA membership ie minibar, upgrades etc but perhaps with the following features.

1. A special booking rate for “Royal Ambassador Leisure” members roughly equivalent to the current Friends and Family rate.

2. Happy to accept a restriction on how far ahead they can be booked ie say 14 days or longe. In other words something that protects their business customer revenue.

3. Happy for a minimum stay criteria say 3 nights for reasons as stated above.

4. Happy to accept that perhaps one of the nights must be a weekend night - again to protect business revenue.

5. A minimum of a double level guaranteed upgrade ie what it says on the booking is the rate for the rooms you book but what is shown at booking is the actual upgrade room or suite you will get. In other words, a guarantee with no surprises or disappointments. What you book is what you will get.

6. The opportunity of perhaps making two bookings on that rate per stay so you can bring family.

7. A store and leave facility. I'd like to buy some stuff I always need for example my pillows and leave them there for my stays. I use to have this facility in a couple of places we use to regularly stay in and it makes your suite your home.

8. Actually quite happy to ditch the weekend cert. Lower rates for each night would be better.

I think that this type of offer would give them revenue and occupancy that they don't currently get. I'd possibly spend say 8 long weekends per year in each of both Cannes and Vienna. We'd also have extended stays in Singapore. I know some will say "you might make RA for those stays" but as you know that's an uncertain route and actually it isn't quite what we need. Wouldn't it be great if they offered a "Royal Ambassador Leisure" member concierge service to smooth all your bookings and arrange limo transfers etc. ..... oh I'm fantacising now ......

Would this idea be attractive to anyone else or is it just me drinking too much?
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Old Oct 10, 11, 12:41 pm   #2
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Very attractive idea, and one I would certainly consider buying if offered.
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Old Oct 10, 11, 1:58 pm   #3
 
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Given how programs are taking away benefits these days and basically watering down elite tiers, you're asking for alot for $350 vs the current Ambassador at $200.

For $150 more you're asking for the minibar benefit (granted, some hotels are including this 'benefit' these days at rates $50-75 more per night over the lowest rate). Keep in mind that RA has some high qualification standards and even a RA referral in CC will run >$500.

If anything, this tier would probably be priced closer to $500+. But we can only dream. The double upgrade would just cause them to create even more levels of room categories. That is one game that cannot be beat 100% of the time.
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Old Oct 10, 11, 2:27 pm   #4
uk1
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I actually started with $500 in mind.

Wouldn't it be a bold and helpful move if they reversed the booking so that you chose the room or suite you required and they reversed the process and produced the room or suite you needed to purchase.

Mini-bar is minimal cost - but I'd see this programme as a way for IC to increase occupancy and get a fairly meaty fee for what could drag some fairly meaty revenue.

This would also give them a self-evident highly attractive segment to package and market up-market offers to. Not effected by corporate budget cuts etc. Would have thought it a dream group to own.
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Old Oct 10, 11, 3:08 pm   #5
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I cannot see any sanity to this at all. There is an Ambassador membership and a fairly small pool of Royal Ambassadors

Anyone wanting better rooms can actually just book them up front and many hotels already offer discounted rates for bookings > 14 days in advance with advance purchase rates

Start adding a large pool of people with such benefits and can see very strict policies starting to be enforced by hotels on what they do provide rather than many being fairly generous in relation to what they offer

As far as a friends/family rate type thing, the friends and family rate already exists together with its restrictions

If wanting to pay less for hotels, there are plenty of other options
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Old Oct 10, 11, 3:23 pm   #6
uk1
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I wouldn't have expected anything else from you Dave

Ideas like this are protyped and tested first and then scaled to an optimum level. Your fears therefore are misplaced.

I guess this illustrates the difference between an engineer and marketeer?
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Old Oct 10, 11, 4:28 pm   #7
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I wouldn't have expected anything else from you Dave

Ideas like this are protyped and tested first and then scaled to an optimum level. Your fears therefore are misplaced.

I guess this illustrates the difference between an engineer and marketeer?
I think it illustrates the difference between someone wanting a scheme designed around their own wants to someone looking at it

I think that Ambassador does what it aims at and Royal Ambassador rewards those who stay a lot ; I do not see any reason to create a RA status for those that can't earn it. If wanting a higher category, then as an Ambassador member book accordingly since 1 category is guaranteed. If IHG finds a big issue with sales of certs, rather than such a scheme, perhaps just scrap the referral cert scheme

To me, the optimum level is the status quo
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Old Oct 10, 11, 5:59 pm   #8
 
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To me, the optimum level is the status quo
That could be an excellent motto for the Conservative Party
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Old Oct 10, 11, 11:14 pm   #9
 
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I agree with the status quo (although I would prefer that they establish and publicize the RA criteria every year based on last year's "top 1%").
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Old Oct 11, 11, 12:58 am   #10
uk1
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I think it illustrates the difference between someone wanting a scheme designed around their own wants to someone looking at it

To me, the optimum level is the status quo
Well .... obviously I'm illustrating a gap based on my own viewpoint. But you are not "looking at it" because you want no "changes" based purely on your own viewpoint. In summary - your opinion is "As an RA I don't want anyone else getting this in case I get less".

I don't frankly see why you have to see this as an alternative. It isn't. The status quo will be maintained as much as it currently is. The suggestion is based on a need for a different group of people - "leisure" not "business" people who are traveling and qualifying for RA based on someone elses expenses and most regularly at different times and with largely completely different needs. It's simply a different programme not an alternative. That was the point of my post. But to describe an idea as insane because you are scared that someone else may get something you might have got if they weren't there is just rude and selfish.

If I were to characterise the opinion I have seen you express through what seems like the majority of your 15000+ posts you tend to post when someone else expresses dissapointment with service they have received. I don't recall ever seeing much sympathy for others who simply received what was on the pack. To paraphrase a large number of your posts your mantra is that members have nothing to complain about so long as they receive what is on the packet. Fair enough. And you say that so long as you receive what's on the pack then you personally are happy and if you receive more then you are simply happier. Well - great.

If you continue to receive what's on the pack then you will be maintaing the "status quo". Your beef has nothing whatsover to do with the group of people I was describing - and perhaps you shouldn't be so selfish.

I fully recognise I'm wasting my time as I'd be astonished if you adjusted an opinion on something simply because someone else tries to explain an idea from a different viewpoint to your own. But I promise you that there is enough room to satisfy both sets of travelers and that there is a very small group who'd love the idea. That is the group of needs I was exploring and it is a group whose business ICHG will never fully enjoy unless they are targetted with an alternative programme.

So stop fretting

Last edited by uk1; Oct 11, 11 at 1:25 am.
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Old Oct 11, 11, 1:00 am   #11
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I agree with the status quo (although I would prefer that they establish and publicize the RA criteria every year based on last year's "top 1%").
There is absolutely no logic whatsoever in not posting the criteria. There is no commercial risk in being clear but they are losing meaty customers by failing to publish criteria.
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Old Oct 11, 11, 3:59 am   #12
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If I were to characterise the opinion I have seen you express through what seems like the majority of your 15000+ posts you tend to post when someone else expresses dissapointment with service they have received. I don't recall ever seeing much sympathy for others who simply received what was on the pack. To paraphrase a large number of your posts your mantra is that members have nothing to complain about so long as they receive what is on the packet.
Absolutely.. whining that one received exactly what they were entitled to, unsurprisingly elicits no sympathy

Regardless, IHG provides benefits that can be purchased and benefits that can be earned; because someone cannot earn status is no reason to sell it to them. imo; those staying on leisure stays/booking in advance/being happy to not be able to cancel already have the option at many hotels to book at cheaper rates than the flexible rate

It is no more selfish to not want it changed than it is for someone to want changes that specifically aimed at providing benefits to them


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There is absolutely no logic whatsoever in not posting the criteria.
Yes there is; by making it by invitation rather than specific criteria means that they can adjust criteria at will and can even have differing criteria from region to region; it also helps reduce ( I suggest ) cases of "done the x nights/spent $Y, now going to go and stay elsewhere"
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Old Oct 11, 11, 4:06 am   #13
 
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There is no commercial risk in being clear but they are losing meaty customers by failing to publish criteria.
They simply reserve the right to refuse membership to anyone.
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Old Oct 11, 11, 4:34 am   #14
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They simply reserve the right to refuse membership to anyone.
Yes - I thought about this aspect of not publishing criteria a bit.

There's largely three groups of relevant people in the current scenario.

1. Those that would like to spend their cash and qualify to become RA. But as they don't know the criteria there's a degree of uncertainty and potential dissapointment and so a very high number (imho) who will simply not bother and patronise another group perhaps with slightly less of an offer but more certainty over qualification. ICHG lose these customers.

2. People that have qualified. Once they have they are already qualified they are likely to devote as much as their spend as possible to ICHG. So the effect of publishing the criteria is neutral in the period they are members but places a degree of uncertainty over whether they will requalify. Again a possible loss to ICHG.

3. The other group are those that are either given or buy a referral cert. I suspect that very few of these requalify under their own steam and are therefore possibly irrelevant to the argument.

ICHG seem to want to preserve the notion of "our top 1% of customers" but if they simply changed this slightly and added the word "approximately" then this would release them to simply publish a set of criteria they could review every few years. This would qualify a few harder hitters but they could then review the criteria in a year or two if they wanted.

I think there is no gain for being secretive but a considerable potential loss.
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Old Oct 11, 11, 5:33 am   #15
 
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While I'm all for transparency at qualification criteria, another level at the Ambassador program doesn't make much sense for me.

There already are leisure stay rates of weekend and long stay variety. Along with the regular AMB, the only difference would be a one level upgrade (kind of a wash at some leisure properties with view/floor distinguishing categories) + benefits like mini bar etc. Not really big of a deal if you book to get club access for example. All for a lower price - where's the deal for IHG ?

I'd very much rather see a guaranteed club access/breakfast and extension of the benefits to award stays for the regular RA program. Maybe also throwing a bone for the occasional other IHG brand stayer, with some benefits extending in that territory.
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