Members of the Priority Club Rewards frequent guest loyalty program of the InterContinental Hotel Group are finding out that the reward night chart will follow the lead of competing hotel frequent guest loyalty programs and be based on category rather than brand of hotel — and the change will occur on January 18, 2013, which is only eleven days from today.
The good news is that there is a grace period: if the hotel property at which you originally planned to book now requires more Priority Club Rewards points, you have through March 18, 2013 to simply call to reserve your reward night and place your request for the original point price.
The new reward night chart below shows that there will be nine categories, with Category 9 being the highest at 50,000 Priority Club Rewards points:
FlyerTalk members consider this latest change as part of a massive devaluation which has been occurring for two consecutive years. One year ago, multiple reward night points levels within all InterContinental Hotel Group brands, which resulted in the increase of Priority Club frequent guest loyalty program reward levels at approximately 25 percent of hotel properties worldwide — although it also led to a decrease at approximately 2o percent of hotel properties worldwide. Last month, restrictions on which Priority Club Rewards points count towards elite status were tightened.
Some FlyerTalk members find it quite ironic that the Luckiest Loser promotion by Priority Club was launched as a response to a significant devaluation of Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program points and subsequently lured members to Priority Club Rewards. Then again, I have found Priority Club Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points to be far easier to earn than Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program points, so the perceived devaluation does not sting as much for me when taken from that perspective — but I still do not support any massive devaluation.
However — until details on how specific InterContinental Hotel Group hotel properties which participate in the Priority Club Rewards frequent guest loyalty program are affected by the restructuring of the reward night chart — it is unfair to cast dispersions about any denigration of the changes. Still, FlyerTalk members are not happy that not only has the time of the advance notice been quite short, but also that the list of hotel properties affected is yet to be known.
Then again, when was the last time a major change in a frequent travel loyalty program resulted in beneficial changes which its members favored? Well, I would say when Starwood Preferred Guest eased its point expiration policy is a good example.
The following is a letter written by John Muehlbauer — who is the director of the Priority Club Rewards frequent guest loyalty program — as posted by FlyerTalk member PriorityClubRewards this morning:
“I wanted to send a personal note to let you be among the first to know that we are making a change to Reward Nights soon. As we’re announcing to all of our members today, on January 18th, Priority Club will introduce a new Reward Night chart and changes to the points required for a Reward Night at some of our hotels.
“The new Reward Night chart is located on the Priority Club Rewards website. You can see that we’ve introduced Reward Night categories that stretch across our IHG brand family and that we’ve retired our brand-specific chart. We believe that categories will allow us to better match Reward Night value to the points required.
“As you can imagine, this new chart will mean some hotels will be changing the number of points required for a Reward Night. Less than 30% of our hotels will be increasing with this change. But this also means that we can lower the points required at some hotels; more hotels, in fact, than we’ll be increasing. Not only will we be lowering points required at more than 30% of our hotels, we will now have more than 500 properties available at our lowest category – 10,000 points.
“If you have a current Reward Night reservation we will not be changing the points required and any new Reward Night reservations you book before January 18th will be at the current price point. And, because we want this change to be as easy as possible, we’re honoring the old points required for any new Reward Night reservations made through March 18th. Our Priority Club Rewards Service Center agents are trained to help; just call and ask for the old price.
“We’re working to make Rewards simpler and easier to understand. By more closely reflecting the value of the night – you’ll see Reward Night pricing reflect location, brand, amenities, demand, etc. just like paid rates – we think it’ll be easier for you, our member, to plan and book your Reward Nights. And we are keeping what makes us an award-winning program: no blackout dates, no point expiration, no “seasonal surcharges”, access to over 4,500 hotels through our portfolio of world-class brands, and a wide array of Reward options including Reward Nights, Brand-name merchandise, or redeem for flights, hotels, and cars with our Anywhere Rewards.”
While it may sound like good news that more hotel properties will be decreasing rather than increasing with this change, FlyerTalk members are not buying it. They consider this a spin on the change where the hotel properties affected with an increase are hotel properties at which people want to stay, while those hotel properties affected with a decrease are low-end hotel properties which have yet to be renovated.
I can relate to that above statement. I rarely stay at Holiday Inn hotel properties anymore due to their inconsistency, as some of the hotel properties were simply dumpy and useless to me, with the stale smell of the rooms and tired dated restaurants with mediocre food. I would not waste my Priority Club Rewards points on those hotel properties — no matter how few of those points are required for a reward night stay.
Questions still remain: will there be reduced point redemption promotions in the future? Will elite member benefits be upgraded or refreshed? Will Hilton HHonors launch a retaliation missive towards members of the Priority Club Rewards frequent guest loyalty program as a result of another perceived devaluation?