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The NEW Priority Club, Ambassador and Royal Ambassador Master Thread

The NEW Priority Club, Ambassador and Royal Ambassador Master Thread

Old Mar 10, 2009, 5:14 am
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by Me2Earth
Hi,

My BOGO stay using an Ambassador voucher was a qualifying night.

But my BOGO stay using a Priority Privilege voucher was a non-qualifying stay even though I emailed PC Rewards ( I have used it 3X since I am also a new PP member - 2x in CP & 1X IC hotel).
Me2Earth, your Priority Privilge nights are qualified nights as per the T&C regs. All locally negotiated rates in the Asia-Pacific region qualify, and Priority Privilege is a qualifying rate. I have been a member of PP for more than 5 years and have always had my PP stays count.

Per T & C regs:

Points for Stays. You may earn Points for Stays beginning with the date of your enrollment in the Program. Points will not be earned for Stays made prior to the date of your enrollment as shown in Priority Club records. A Stay is defined as one night or consecutive nights at the same hotel, regardless of frequency of check-in/check-out. A Stay is qualified when paying Qualifying Room Rates, which include most business and leisure rates. ...........

Eligible Charges Worldwide include the following Qualifying Room Rates paid for hotel room nights: non-discounted rate, standard corporate rate, worldwide sales negotiated rate, national/regional/local government rate and specified leisure rates as confirmed by IHG's HOLIDEX Plus reservation systems. Points will be awarded for Qualifying Room Rates booked through IHG central reservation offices, IHG web sites, travel agents or directly at the hotel. In addition, in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, points may be collected on locally negotiated rates if these rates are discounted less than 30%. At Asia Pacific hotels, Qualifying Room Rates also include all locally negotiated rates. Eligible Charges Worldwide also include food and beverage, telephone, laundry, and in-room movies charged to the member's room. Hotels may choose to award points for other charges at their discretion. At U.S. and Canadian hotels (except InterContinental), you can collect points or miles on all Eligible Charges for multiple hotel rooms (less than 10) provided those rooms are used in conjunction with the member's stay at the same hotel, and that their Priority Club Rewards member number is recorded on each reservation, or the charges from those multiple room reservations are referred to on the hotel room bill associated with the member's reservation.

Go back to Priority Club and remind them of the Rules! If not, contact the Amassador Services Desk and remind them of this criteria.

mxm135

Last edited by MXM135; Mar 10, 2009 at 6:23 am Reason: Add reference to Ambassador Services/Typo
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 7:13 am
  #17  
 
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Originally Posted by Raffles
Historically no, it has been 50-60 nights. However, with the downturn you may find that the criteria drops a bit.
I am currently sitting on 46 nights over the last year and 4 IC stays (total of 14 nights at ICs I believe). I just received my downgrade letter so it doesn't seem like the requirements have been eased at all.

What is frustrating is that my card has an expiration date of May 2009 and I cannot get a straight answer from Ambassador service center as to whether stays I have between now and the end of May 2009 will be considered towards my requalifying for RA.
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 7:30 am
  #18  
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Originally Posted by johnep1
I am currently sitting on 46 nights over the last year and 4 IC stays (total of 14 nights at ICs I believe). I just received my downgrade letter so it doesn't seem like the requirements have been eased at all.

What is frustrating is that my card has an expiration date of May 2009 and I cannot get a straight answer from Ambassador service center as to whether stays I have between now and the end of May 2009 will be considered towards my requalifying for RA.
In my personal experience, the stays before the expiration of your card will count for a review just before the expiration of the card. What is more tricky IMHO, and probably more important than the absolute number of nights in the various brands, is the actual number of nights (or associated budget) spent in IC hotels.
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 3:24 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by johnep1
I am currently sitting on 46 nights over the last year and 4 IC stays (total of 14 nights at ICs I believe). I just received my downgrade letter so it doesn't seem like the requirements have been eased at all.

What is frustrating is that my card has an expiration date of May 2009 and I cannot get a straight answer from Ambassador service center as to whether stays I have between now and the end of May 2009 will be considered towards my requalifying for RA.
stay 50 - 60 nights with IC and in 3 different area (even that part not for sure)
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Old Mar 28, 2009, 10:21 am
  #20  
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Originally Posted by ym1
stay 50 - 60 nights with IC and in 3 different area (even that part not for sure)
This is certainly missleading: It is 50 to 60 nights with IHG (not IC). The "three different area" is to my humble opinion missleading too and I have never heard this officially. I read in Ambassador Service's emails something about three different ICs.

I can only report from my experience: I requalified with 40 IC nights in 9 different European ICs.
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Old Mar 28, 2009, 10:48 am
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Flying Lawyer
This is certainly missleading: It is 50 to 60 nights with IHG (not IC). The "three different area" is to my humble opinion missleading too and I have never heard this officially. I read in Ambassador Service's emails something about three different ICs.

I can only report from my experience: I requalified with 40 IC nights in 9 different European ICs.
For sure will not going to work if you not staying with IC it may that 40 IC + other IHG is fine, know someone stay 15 IC (4 different ones) + more than 60 IHG (non IC) and he didn't got RA when he checked with Ambassador they replay you have to stay 50+ night in IC (3 different ones, correct not 3 zone)... for other they will consider.
I never saw official document about "how to become RA"
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Old Mar 28, 2009, 1:04 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by ym1
I never saw official document about "how to become RA"
I did in form of an email when I first asked and they gave the advise that the "top RA" had 120 IC nights in 20 IV hotels and 50 IHG nights could be assumed to be neccessary.
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Old Mar 29, 2009, 1:15 am
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by Flying Lawyer
50 IHG nights could be assumed to be neccessary.
IIRC, Shareholder has mentioned in another thread that it's 60 nights now according to his ICHG source.
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:11 am
  #24  
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The NEW Priority Club, Ambassador and Royal Ambassador Master Thread

This is the new 2009 PC / Amb / RA overview thread. It is linked from the main sticky and aims to answer the most common questions about the programmes. I have tried to cover all of the questions asked in the 99 pages of the old 2004 thread! Please take the time to read through it and post any comments or corrections, whilst remembering that this thread is about how the programmes work in reality as opposed to what is published by PC. Thanks!


This thread is designed to give an overview of Priority Club (Post 1), Ambassador (Post 2) and Royal Ambassador (Post 3) membership to Priority Club newcomers. Please read this thread carefully before posting – your question may be answered here. And if it isn’t, we’ll add it after you’ve asked it for the benefit of others!

The key point to understand is that Priority Club POINTS can be earned and spent at all brands in the portfolio. However, the main benefits of Priority Club STATUS are only valid at Holiday Inn, HI Express, Staybridge, Indigo, Crowne Plaza etc – not InterContinental. InterContinental has its own status programme called Ambassador, which uniquely amongst hotel chains cannot be earned – it must be bought. Ambassadors may be upgraded at IC’s discretion to Royal Ambassador, the highest level.


Section 1 – Priority Club and earning and spending PC points

The full T&C's of PC membership can be found here: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/pc/.../0/en/ptc.html

PC membership is free. You can sign up via www.priorityclub.com, or – if you try to make a booking online without being a member – you will prompted to sign up during the booking process. You will receive 1,000 bonus points if you sign up during the booking process, according to the PC T&C's.

There are three levels of status:

Club is the basic level. The only benefits are late check-out (at hotel discretion) and a free newspaper (ditto). So, basically, nothing!

Gold is achieved after 15 nights or 20,000 points. PC is so generous with bonus point promotions (see the promos sticky run by Radioman) that you are 99% certain to achieve this through points rather than nights! You can also buy Gold membership for $50 through the PC website although the benefits are so weak that it is not seen as worthwhile. Key benefits here are priority check-in, which basically means your paperwork is done in advance – there is no separate hotel line to join - and 10% bonus base points. Amex Centurion members in some countries get PC Gold as a perk of the package.

Platinum is the highest level, after 50 nights or 60,000 points. Platinum members should receive a room upgrade (except at HI Express properties which don't have premium rooms) as well as 50% bonus base points and 72-hour guaranteed availability. Note that the 72-hour guaranteed room pledge is limited to one room per member, the hotel can impose black-outs and you likely to pay full rack rate – you cannot book a reward night this way.

The benefits of PC Platinum are not as good as Starwood Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hyatt Diamond or Hilton Diamond. You should not expect a suite upgrade, club access or free breakfast (although you will occasionally get these) and you may have to push to get anything at all. The trade off is that PC Platinum is substantially easier to earn than any other hotel top tier status due to the number of points promotions PC runs.

As a reminder – PC Gold or Platinum benefits (apart from the 72-hour guaranteed availability and bonus base points) do NOT apply at InterContinental hotels, although you may be able to secure a minor upgrade or later check-out. The Ambassador and Royal Ambassador programmes for IC guests are explained later in this thread.


Common questions about Priority Club membership and PC points:

How long does status last?

PC status is based on calendar year. When you are promoted, you retain your new status for the rest of the current year and until 31st December of the following year. PC has a ‘soft landing’ system so a Platinum who does not requalify drops to Gold for a year before dropping back to Club.

Do my ‘earned points’ reset when I hit Gold?

No. When you hit Gold, you are promoted immediately and then only need another 40,000 points in that calendar year to hit Platinum. If you do not hit Platinum in the same year as achieving Gold, you will need to earn the full 60,000 points in the following year to go from Gold to Platinum.

Do I get free breakfast or Club access?

No. No level of PC membership offers a guaranteed free breakfast or Club access although Plats will occasionally get them on a discretionary hotel-by-hotel basis. Members living in EMEA can redeem PC points for vouchers for a free breakfast (4,000 points per person per day) at any EMEA non-InterContinental branded property - these must be ordered through the website and you need to allow time for delivery.

How many points do I earn per stay?

10 points per US$1, except for Candlewood and Staybridge which offer 5 per $1. This is officially based on the pre-tax amount and some services charged to your bill are excluded – see the small print.

InterContinental properties give a flat 2,000 base points per stay with NOTHING for additional spending. (You cannot book multiple back-to-back single night stays to get around this!) PC Gold and PC Plat members receive the 10% / 50% base point bonus on top of this, and Royal Ambassador members get a further 1,000 taking them to 4,000 points per stay. There is also a long-term bonus scheme for Ambassadors who receive 20,000 bonus points for every 15 nights in InterContinental-branded properties.

Hotel in Japan branded ANA (not ANA CP or ANA IC, simply ANA) earn a flat 600 points per stay, apart from ANA Sapporo which earns 1,300 points. Some ANA hotels also give credit for incidental charges, some don't - check the website for details.

In general, if you take advantage of the promotions in Radioman's points sticky in this forum, your base points should form a very small percentage of your total earned points!

Do PC points expire?

No

Do I get points for incidental spend on reward stays?

Yes, except for reward nights at InterContinental properties which never give points on incidental spend even on paid stays.

Do I get stay credit on reward stays?

No

Do all rates qualify for points and stay credit?

No. This is one of the main problems with the programme. Whilst there are some obvious exceptions (Expedia bookings, tour operator bookings, flight crew / employee rates etc) there is an additional rule that hotels in North, South and Central America do not earn points at rates rates which are 30% lower than the ‘Best Available Rate’ for that night. Some hotels impose this, some don’t. Some hotels outside of these regions also try to disqualify discounted rates for points, even if the rate was booked through the PC website and was publicly available. If you don’t get points, you can usually get the decision reversed by e-mailing Priority Club and reminding them that this rule does not actually exist. Note that hotels in Asia Pacific DO give points for 'locally negotiated rates' according to the T&C's.

If you book a stay using ‘two nights for the price of one’ offers then it is PC policy to give points and stay credit for one night – again, if you don’t get this then e-mail PC and they will correct it.

You cannot earn points from two different hotels on the same night - one will always post with 0 points. Bear this in mind if planning a mattress run.

Do I still earn points if I book through a cashback website such as quidco.com or fatwallet?

Yes, because these bookings are completed through the PC website and not through a third-party website such as Expedia.

Will I receive points and a qualifying night if I book a room using my account for someone else?

Officially not - you have to stay and pay yourself (ie no group bookings) to get the points. In reality, though, you should get the points if you have booked the room using your account. To increase your chances, add the name of whoever is using the room as an 'additional guest' when making the reservation, and in the comments section add 'Second guest: XXX XXXX, will arrive first'.

Will I receive points on multiple rooms?

Yes in the US and Canada, except InterContinental-branded hotels and only for 10 or less rooms. Your PC number must be on ALL rooms, or alternatively the charges from the others rooms must be transferred to your bill before payment. Anywhere else in the world you will only receive the points for your own room no matter how many rooms you have booked under your account.

Do all points count towards status?

Yes. This is real benefit of the programme. All points (base points, bonus points, credit card sign-up, credit card spending, points purchased, points transferred via Amex Membership Rewards or from another PC member) count towards status. This is why it is so easy to achieve Platinum Status with PC.

Can I transfer points to another member?

Yes, but you need to pay $5 per 1,000 points. You need to download the form from the PC website and fax it to them. Transferred points count towards status progression for the recipient, but count against status progression for the transferror. It has been posted on FT that members who live in the Asia-Pacific region can transfer points for free to another Asia-Pacific based member by calling the service centre - I cannot verify this myself.

Can I purchase points online?

Yes. There are usually a couple of promotions each year where you can receive 10% or more bonus points when purchasing points. Purchased points count towards status.

Can I collect airline miles instead of points?

Yes, you can choose to take 500 miles per stay in most airline schemes instead of points. However ... this is not recommended for regular stayers because if you choose 'airline miles' as your earnings preference, you will not be allowed to sign up for the majority of the PC bonus points promotions. You are usually better off collecting points and then, if you want miles, transferring them to your preferred airline at 10,000 PC points = 2,000 airline miles.

How many points do I need for a free night?

Rates vary. InterContinental redemptions are usually 40,000 points (30k at some places). Crowne Plaza and Indigo are always 25k, Candlewood always 15k, Staybridge always 20k. Holiday Inn and HI Express are 15k (very occasionally 10k) but are 25k in peak cities like London, Paris, New York etc. In these cities you will therefore clearly get better value from a 25k Crowne Plaza stay than a 25k HI Express stay!

Are nights ever discounted?

PC has a small number of ‘points break’ rewards each quarter, at which a small number of hotels globally offer rooms at 5,000 points per night. A new list is released quarterly and hotels disappear when their quota is full, often within days. Locations vary but don’t expect IC London to appear any time soon!

What room categories are available for redemption?

In general, InterContinental properties only make the lowest room category available for reward nights. HI, CP, Indigo etc hotels often make a larger range of rooms available, occasionally including suites, at no additional points cost, but this is strictly done on a property-by-property basis.

Are there blackout nights?

PC has a ‘no blackout’ policy. However, this is NOT the same as the Hilton ‘if we have a room, its yours’ policy. All it means is that a hotel is obliged to make at least 1 room per night available for redemption, and when its gone, its gone. In general, though, availability is good and you would be very unlucky not to find any rooms available in a major gateway city on any particular night.

Does PC open up extra reward availability on request for Platinum members?

No. There have been occasions where FT’ers have contacted PC and they have persuaded a hotel to open up extra rooms, but this is not common and certainly would not happen for anyone below Platinum level.

Can I cancel a reward night, and when do I get the points back?

You can usually cancel online until the day before arrival. Points are deposited back into your account immediately - if you cancel a booking, log out and log in again, they will be back and available for use.

Are there other redemption options?

Yes. Interesting options include vouchers for breakfast or dinner at hotels for 4,000 or 7,500 points respectively (not valid at IC’s, only available to members living and redeeming in EMEA), store gift vouchers (choice varies by country of residence) and American Express ‘anyhotel, anywhere’ gift cards that can be used to pay for ANY hotel in the world that takes Amex. Whilst not the greatest value, the Amex gift cards can be useful if you have a lot of points and there is no suitable PC property in your vacation destination. You can also transfer points to airline miles at a ratio for most programmes of 10,000 points = 2,000 miles.

Does PC comp status?

Generally not, although it never does any harm to ask if you are Platinum in another programme and can show that you have a number of PC stays booked. There is no point asking for a Gold comp given the minimal benefits of the Gold tier and the fact that being Gold does not make it any easier to achieve Platinum.

Last edited by Raffles; Apr 16, 2009 at 9:54 am
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:11 am
  #25  
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Section 2 – Ambassador status

Ambassador status is unique in as much as it can only be bought, not earned. Ambassador costs $150 per year, and expires 12 months from the end of the month of your purchase (join at www.priorityclub.com/ambassador). You can also join by spending 24,000 Priority Club points – e-mail Priority Club if you would like to do this. Renewal is $100 per year or 20,000 PC points.

If used correctly, Ambassador can be the greatest bargain in travel. The core benefits are a voucher for a free weekend night, a guaranteed one-level upgrade, guaranteed 4pm late check-out, a voucher for 5,000 free Priority Club points, use of the airport chauffeur service (at a fee, so not much of a benefit), one free Pay TV movie per stay, a welcome gift per stay (some are good, some are naff!), no additional charge for double occupancy (at hotels which charge extra) and free fruit and mineral water. You also receive 20,000 bonus Priority Club points after staying 15 nights as an Ambassador in IC-branded hotels before December 2013!

Remember, these benefits are at IC hotels ONLY, and do not apply at Holiday Inn, CP’s etc. However, Ambassadors who have no PC status are automatically promoted to PC Gold and receive the (weak) Gold benefits listed in Post 1 at HI’s, CP’s etc.


Common questions about Ambassador status:

If I pay for Ambassador membership do I keep the same Priority Club number?

Yes. Your Ambassador number is also your PC number. If you are not already a PC member, you will be enrolled automatically at Gold level. Your Ambassador membership card will also be your PC membership card going forward.

What are the conditions for using the free weekend night certificate?

The voucher is valid for consecutive Fri / Sat or Sat / Sun stays, except for the Middle East where it is Thu / Fri or Fri / Sat. You must pay for the Friday night if claiming Saturday free or the Saturday night if claiming Sunday free. You cannot decide which night is to be the free one – if staying Fri / Sat / Sun then Sat is free. You MUST present your voucher at check-in or the hotel can – and often will – refuse it. You cannot use the voucher on suites.

How long does the free weekend night voucher last?

Following a recent change, the voucher is valid for 12 months from the date you join Ambassador.

Are there any blackout dates for using free weekend night certificates?

No. If the hotel is selling rooms for that weekend it must accept the voucher. Remember that you cannot use the voucher on suites.

What is a BOGO / BOGOF?

This is FT slang for the free weekend night voucher – it is shorthand for ‘buy one, get one free’

How do I book my free weekend night?

Book your stay online as usual. Any publicly available rates bookable online are OK - this is likely to exclude employee / friends and family / targetted e-mail sale rates. You do NOT need to tell the hotel in advance that you are using a voucher – we actively recommend that you don’t tell them, as human nature means that you may get a poorer upgrade if the hotel knows you are paying less than other guests. If you are booking a prepaid rate, you can either book the free night separately on ‘Best Available Rate’, or pay for the entire stay in advance and then get the hotel to refund you the free night at check-out.

How are free weekend night certificates treated for points and stay count?

You should receive the usual 2,000 points for your stay because of the paid night - if you don't, contact the Ambassador service desk. For a two-night weekend stay, you should only receive 1 night stay credit, although some hotels will give you 2 nights credit. If you receive 0 nights credit, contact the Ambassador desk.

When are upgrades allocated?

Often only at check-in. However, some hotels upgrade in advance, especially for Royal Ambassadors. If you review you stay on the PC website in the days before your stay you may see that you have been upgraded already – although this upgrade can still change for better or worse!

Are vouchers transferable?

Theoretically no, but they are not named. Ambassadors often swap them via FlyerTalk’s Coupon Connection (only visible to members with 90 posts and 90 days membership). No-one on FT has ever had any problems using multiple certificates in a year.

Is there any way of getting free Ambassador status?

There are occasionally promotions that offer free IC status to anyone who has three stays at an InterContinental-branded property within a specific period of time. However, as you are missing out on the upgrade, free TV movie and fruit and water on these three stays, you are arguably better to pay the $150 upfront.

How long does my Ambassador kit take to arrive?

3-4 weeks, wherever you live (they are mailed from the US). Your status is upgraded on line immediately, but you cannot do your ‘free weekend night’ without having the physical voucher in your hand.

What is a ‘one level upgrade’?

Usually it is to the next category of room show in the PC booking system, so ‘Classic’ to ‘Superior’ for example. However, a hotel is within its rights to give you the best room in the category you booked – if half the rooms overlook a car park and half don’t, you may just be guaranteed a non car-park view, for example.

Can I be upgraded to a Club room?

It is rare for a hotel to give an Ambassador club access. Club access is often available at a discounted rate, however (eg IC London gives a 50% discount).

Do I get free breakfast as an Ambassador?

No, unless you get a Club upgrade (see above)

Do I get early check-in as well as the advertised late check-out?

No, early check-in is only a benefit for Royal Ambassadors

Is the 5,000 PC points voucher transferable?

Yes – you can enter the activation code on any PC account and it will credit 5,000 points to that account. As these points count towards status, some FT’ers delay using them until the next calendar year if they know they will retain Platinum in the current year. It is also common for FT’ers to swap the 5,000 point vouchers with other Ambassadors for the free weekend night certificates through FT's 'Coupon Connection' (only visible after 90 posts and 90 days FT membership).

Do I need to rebook my existing bookings after I become Ambassador?

You may want to rebook any flexible bookings you have, as your status is sent to the hotel at the time of booking and may not necessarily update until the day of arrival.

Is there any point joining Ambassador if I never stay at InterContinental-branded properties?

Not really. You will benefit from the 5,000 bonus point voucher and you could trade your free weekend night voucher for another 5,000 point voucher on FT ‘Coupon Connection’ (assuming you have access under the 90 days and 90 posts rule) but this is not worth $150. You will be upgraded to PC Gold, which is valid at HI, HIX, CP etc but – as outlined in Post 1 – Gold benefits are very minimal and in any event you will achieve Gold with 20,000 points anyway.

Are there special room rates for Ambassadors?

Some IC hotels run special promotions for Ambassador members. These are highlighted in the monthly e-mail newsletter and on the Ambassador website at priorityclub.com/ambassador.

Can I be comped to Ambassador from Hilton Plat / SPG Plat etc?

No. You must purchase Ambassador status.

What is the ‘Ambassador Private Community’?

You may see reference to this on FT. This was an InterContinental-runs invitation-only community for 300 Ambassadors and RA’s. It was closed by IC in May 2009.

Last edited by Raffles; Apr 24, 2009 at 7:49 am Reason: Private Community closure
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:12 am
  #26  
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Section 3 – Royal Ambassador status

The criteria for achieving RA status is not published, although PC says that it is for ‘the top 1% of Ambassadors’. However, it is believed to be 50-60 nights in the past 12 months across the whole PC system (all brands) plus at least 3 stays at DIFFERENT InterContinental hotels.

If you meet these requirements and are already an Ambassador, you have nothing to lose from emailing the Ambassador service desk and asking them to review your account. If you do not have 50-60 nights and are not already an Ambassador, don’t waste your time. Some FT’ers have been told in the past that they will not be considered until they have been an Ambassador for one year, but other FTers have had no problems - if you get this response, contact them again and try a different agent. The number of points you have earned is totally irrelevant in assessing your application – it is 100% based on paid nights.

The benefits of RA status, above the Ambassador benefits, are a two-level upgrade (and often a suite upgrade), a guaranteed 8am check-in, a free mini-bar, free health club access (although most IC clubs are free anyway) and 1,000 additional bonus points per stay. As a reminder, these benefits are ONLY valid at InterContinental-branded hotels. The 'two-level upgrade' is not published policy, but is generally how most hotels interpret the rules - you could do better and it is not impossible, although rare, to do worse.

RA’s are also given PC Platinum status if they do not already have it – see Post 1 for the benefits of this. You will also receive a referral certificate allowing you to gift RA membership to a friend or colleague.


Common questions about Royal Ambassador status:

Are there restrictions on the free mini-bar?

Yes, sometimes. Some hotels do not allow you to take out snacks for free (check at check-in). Some hotels (IC Stockholm) claim that they cannot give free alcohol due to local law. Some hotels remove high value items from the mini-bar before an RA checks in, and some hotels do not refill an RA's mini-bar every day (in both cases, you are within your rights to ring the front desk and ask for it to be properly filled). Theoretically, free drinks are for 'in-room consumption only' so the hotel could charge if you emptied the contents into your suitcase on the way out - although I can't think of a case where this has happened. The IC Amstel in Amsterdam is generally regarded as having the best mini-bar of any IC! To avoid confusion, ALWAYS ask at check-in about the free mini-bar policy at that hotel, even if you are a regular guest.

Do RA (and Amb) benefits apply on reward stays?

Officially no. However, check out FT reports. Most hotels do give RA and Ambassador benefits even on reward stays.

How long does RA status last?

RA lasts for the remainder of your current Ambassador status. This means that you are likely to get less than 12 months benefit, although if you are only a couple of months from your Ambassador expiry date you will probably receive 13-14 months of RA instead of 1-2.

As you approach expiry, PC will review your account and notify you if you are going to retain RA or not, again based on whether you are averaging the 50-60 nights.

What happens if I lose RA status?

You drop down to Ambassador, and receive a free year of Ambassador, saving the usual $100 renewal fee. You will then drop down to Gold if you do not pay your Ambassador fee the following year.

You will also retain your PC Platinum status for the remainder of the calendar year following your demotion. So … in January 2010 you may be a ‘Platinum Royal Ambassador’. If you lose RA status in March 2010, you will drop to ‘Platinum Ambassador’ until December 2010. From Jan-March 2011 you will be ‘Gold Ambassador’ (assuming you don’t earn 60,000 points to retain Plat) and from March 2011 onwards (assuming you don’t pay $100 to retain Ambassador) you will be a simple ‘Gold’ member until December 2011. If you don’t retain Gold you then drop to ‘Club’ member.

Tell me about Royal Ambassador referral certificates

When you become a Royal Ambassador (and each year you are renewed) you will receive a voucher which you can give to a friend to give them automatic RA status. This is free, although they will have to pay $150 to join Ambassador if they are not already a member. Status will last to the end of their Ambassador year, so up to 12 months although it can be less. If a referred member does not stay enough nights to retain RA, they will drop down to Ambassador. Referred RA’s do NOT receive a referral certificate anymore (they did historically) although some occasionally slip through the net.

Referral certificates are often available on ebay (for $500+, often as much as 500+) or via FT’s Coupon Connection. However, now that benefits are restricted to 12 months maximum, it is debatable whether the certificates are worth the money unless you have a lot of IC stays planned. (Historically you could buy a certificate and resell the one you received in return, thus effectively paying nothing for RA membership, but this is no longer possible as referred members do not receive a certificate.)

If you receive a referral and you are not already an Ambassador, it makes sense to join Ambassador first and then, a week or so later, post in your RA referral form. This ensures that you receive two ‘welcome’ boxes (one for Amb, one for RA) and thus receive 2 x 5,000 point vouchers and 2 x free weekend night vouchers. Sometimes IC will remove the second 5,000 point and BOGO vouchers from the RA box if you do this, but it is not common.

There is no box on the RA referral form for existing Ambassadors to write their membership data. You should cross through the credit card lines and write somewhere on the form ‘Already Ambassador – PC number is 12345678’.

RA referrals certificates are valid for six months from the date of issue. You will receive your RA kit within 3-4 weeks of submitting your form to the US, although your status will change online within a few days. Certificates must be posted to the US – faxes, PDF’s etc are not acceptable.

How do I know what benefits RA’s get at particular hotels?

Look at the ‘RA experience’ sticky in this forum, where there are over 1,000 experiences posted.

Do RA’s get Club access?

Not as a rule. If you are upgraded to a suite then you may get access if all suites automatically get club access. Check FT RA trip reports to see what happens in practice.

Do RA’s get free breakfast?

No, unless you get Club access (see above)

Do I need to rebook my existing bookings after I become Royal Ambassador?

You may want cancel existing flexible bookings you have already made, including redemption bookings (check availability is still there first!), and rebook to ensure your new status rather than your old status is attached to your booking. For any other advanced bookings, including those on non-cancellable cash or points bookings, you should consider e-mailing the hotel and informing them of your new status. Your email should include your booking confirmation numbers and dates of your stay. This will help ensure (although nothing is certain) that your upgrade is allocated before you arrive.

Can I be comped to RA from Hilton Plat / SPG Plat etc?

No. It has never been done to our knowledge. Don’t waste the pixels.

Last edited by Raffles; Apr 13, 2009 at 5:51 am
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:21 am
  #27  
uk1
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First class, many thanks for the effort.^

As a point of detail re asking for RA:

If you meet these requirements and are already an Ambassador, you have nothing to lose from emailing PC and asking them to review your account.
Should this request best specifically go to the Ambassador desk?

Are there restrictions on the free mini-bar?

Yes, sometimes. Some hotels do not allow you to take out snacks for free (check at check-in). Some hotels (IC Stockholm) claim that they cannot give free alcohol due to local law. Some hotels remove high value items from the mini-bar before an RA checks in. Some hotels do not refill the mini-bar every day. The IC Amstel in Amsterdam is generally regarded as having the best mini-bar of any IC!
Is it worthwhile adding the obvious suggestion that it is always wise to check when checking in EVERY TIME as properties change their rules.

Do I need to rebook my existing bookings after I become Royal Ambassador?

You may want to rebook any flexible bookings you have, as your status is sent to the hotel at the time of booking and may not necessarily update until the day of arrival. This will help ensure (although nothing is certain) that your upgrade is allocated before you arrive.
Worthwhile suggesting that it's always worthwhile emailing the hotel with the change of status? This would cover advanced purchased.

Last edited by uk1; Mar 31, 2009 at 4:27 am
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:24 am
  #28  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Glasgow, UK
Programs: BAEC Gold, Priority Club RA, Lots of other cards
Posts: 3,099
Hi Raffles,

Just some minor things, I have put them in bold and Italics.

Can I purchase points online?

Yes. There are usually a couple of promotions each year where you can receive 10% or more bonus points when purchasing points.

Note: Any points purchased does count towards status.


What is a BOGO / BOGOF?

This is FT slang for the free weekend night voucher it is shorthand for buy one, get one free

Note: This night can usually count towards status as its classed as a paid night if your using your BOGOF certificate.



Thats about it I think....

Regards
J
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:32 am
  #29  
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Done and done (added a separate question on treatment of BOGO's for points and stay credit) ....
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Old Mar 31, 2009, 4:55 am
  #30  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Australia
Programs: QFF LTG , HHD
Posts: 1,207
Excellent job Raffles!

Intercontinental properties give a flat 2,000 base points per stay with NOTHING for additional spending. PC Gold and PC Plat members receive the additional 10% / 50% bonus on top of this.

Worth mentioning the Ambassador Accelerator promo "stay 15 over whatever period earn 20,000 points" here?
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