New RA Benefits -- a net plus or net negative?

Old Mar 20, 17, 12:15 pm
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New RA Benefits -- a net plus or net negative?

Conversations with two other long-term RAs lead to mixed reviews on the new RA Club Access benefit:

Two of us have had a travel pattern where the majority of ICs we stay having been giving Club Access traditionally. With these hotels, the addition of Club Access isn't really a plus. In fact, it seems to have been a minus, since it seems that the upgrade itself has been less generous than before and they stick to the "two category" upgrade which is to say Standard->Superior->Deluxe. In other words, regular room to regular room + slippers to regular room + slippers and bathrobe.

The other guy has been staying primarily in hotels which have not included Club access, or where you would choose Club OR an upgrade, so he thinks this has been a net plus.

We're all over the map about amenities -- seems like the free gifts in addition to the fruit basket/mineral water have been going away, and instead you can get bonus points (ranging from 600 to 1500), but that's been inconsistent for a while, so the fact each hotel has a different choice of offers isn't new. But I've had hotels which give you more points if you don't take the fruit basket, others that offer a "minibar credit" as one of the options (presumably for the non-liquids part of the minibar), etc. The "free drink" coupons have also been less than consistent, if at all offered.

The timing and fulfilment have been messy; all of us went for one or two months without a current RA card -- we got our cards and BOGO certs just recently but not the whole welcome package (incl. points, luggage tags, etc.) But at least this came earlier in the year. We're confused that our RA status expires at the end of the year, because unless renewal happens earlier, say Dec 1st, we'll have issues again next year with membership expiring before renewals come out..

Plus many of the changes really haven't been well communicated -- we find out more from FT and other online sources than we do from ICH, which is par for the course.

Net-net, it seems that ICH means well but the end result will be more hotels sticking to the rules. We couldn't give it either a resounding thumbs up, or a thumbs down, so far, it seems to be a "push" ...

Last edited by vsevolod4; Mar 20, 17 at 2:09 pm
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Old Mar 20, 17, 12:54 pm
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I've stayed in 5 ICs since 1st Feb and I've definitely found that the upgrades are not so good as they were previously - only 1 - Bordeaux upgraded to one of their top suites but they have no club. The others - PL, Cannes, Le Grand and Marseille gave only the bare minimum or at least not as good as previously.
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Old Mar 20, 17, 7:37 pm
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I've been RA for 7 years, and I think it's surplus. A new club benefit is definitely surplus, and room upgrade is depends on property. Like IC Osaka, they used to upgrade RA to club room. But since club access is official benefit now, they upgrade RA to a suite along with club access. Of course some hotels like IC Tokyo has downgraded their upgrade, but we get club access at least. So it's definitely has both downside and upside, but I like consistency, so I vote for surplus.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 1:41 am
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For me it depends very much on the hotel.
The guaranteed club is a plus where the rule requires it.
Some hotels are worse than before:
IC Saigon before upgraded to Suite Club, now they say a club room is a two level upgrade from a basic room and you get: a basic room plus club. Still gift and extra water. But I am not going back for now because of the drastic cut backs in the club.
IC Nha Trang use the same logic and increased the upsell to their big executive suite (still somewhat reasonable priced).
IC Cairo Citystars was still club+proper suite, but not sure if this is normal. No gift, extra water.
IC HK was still junior suite + Club, no change. Gift was still a tiny box with tea, also water but no more bottle of red wine.

It seems that some hotels play more with the room categorizes now to make the two level upgrade pretty useless, unless you know their categories and book two levels below club.

My sense is taht the room upgrade is not as good as before, but my sample is relatively small.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 3:04 am
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Originally Posted by quitecontrary View Post
I've stayed in 5 ICs since 1st Feb and I've definitely found that the upgrades are not so good as they were previously - only 1 - Bordeaux upgraded to one of their top suites but they have no club. The others - PL, Cannes, Le Grand and Marseille gave only the bare minimum or at least not as good as previously.
+1

At Athens, I always get a suite and club access, and now just received a Deluxe Room with club (nice, but not balcony and far from what I usually get).

I am afraid that it is the end of the true differenciating benefits of the Royal Ambassador program (suite upgrade, which was very smart for IC: giving real different benefits for their most loyal customers at no cost to them as suite are generally poorly occupied).

Should we really have to spend 50+ nights a year to get just one category over plain Ambassadors?
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Old Mar 21, 17, 3:16 am
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It does depend on the hotel and it may depend on the region. IME for IC's in the US it is a clear downgrade. For IC's in Asia it's the same. And for the IC's I go to regularly in Europe it is the same, but I haven't been to many Euro IC's so far this year. And as these new rules just started, maybe we see how it goes as properties adjust. And perhaps in 2018 there might be a lot less RA's. Or the same. Who knows?
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Old Mar 21, 17, 7:12 am
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I had this year 3 stays so far -

IC Toronto wanted to give me a one level upgrade only - challenged at check-in
IC Davos initially from basic to Club room claiming it was a triple upgrade. However club room and deluxe are identical, so for me its just a single upgrade. This then resulted in an incredible upgrade to one of the residences. May be it has to do that I'm a regular there
IC Madrid - gave me a one level upgrade from booked club room to family room. Negotiated then club access for another room, which I've booked on points.
Having a stay at Buenos Aires later this week and also booked a junior suite in Berlin in May. Reading about their adaption of the rules, I wouldn't be surprised, if they would give anything above a senior suite, which is again against the T&C's.
Having seen a lot of hotels inventing fake view categories (here also to name Berlin) I see a severe deterioration of the benefits with the new rules.

However it shows that the hotels get more stingy with upgrades and even assign a two level upgrades to RAs.
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Old Mar 22, 17, 6:41 am
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While the recently introduced rules are still new, it's reasonable to expect a lot of hotels to adhere to them. In time, i expect upgrades will improve as the new system beds in properly. It simply does not make sense to have RAs clogging up lower-end rooms, neither operationally or from an elite guest treatment point of view.
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Old Mar 23, 17, 4:11 pm
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On my last two stays at IC Wellington, apart from the usual very good RA treatment, I've also been given the option of a free drink or 600 points. I take the points which have posted before I check out. Don't know if this is standard or not for RA.
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Old Mar 24, 17, 4:36 am
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Originally Posted by boekel View Post
I had this year 3 stays so far -

IC Toronto wanted to give me a one level upgrade only - challenged at check-in
IC Davos initially from basic to Club room claiming it was a triple upgrade. However club room and deluxe are identical, so for me its just a single upgrade. This then resulted in an incredible upgrade to one of the residences. May be it has to do that I'm a regular there
IC Madrid - gave me a one level upgrade from booked club room to family room. Negotiated then club access for another room, which I've booked on points.
Having a stay at Buenos Aires later this week and also booked a junior suite in Berlin in May. Reading about their adaption of the rules, I wouldn't be surprised, if they would give anything above a senior suite, which is again against the T&C's.
Having seen a lot of hotels inventing fake view categories (here also to name Berlin) I see a severe deterioration of the benefits with the new rules.

However it shows that the hotels get more stingy with upgrades and even assign a two level upgrades to RAs.
Higher than sr suites in Berlin are excluded per t&c.
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Old Mar 24, 17, 10:44 am
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Originally Posted by skaya View Post
Higher than sr suites in Berlin are excluded per t&c.
That's wrong. Only president, diplomatic and Park Suite are excluded.

In Buenos Aires no changes to the past. Still Club Junior Suite while booking the cheapest category ^
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Old Mar 24, 17, 2:59 pm
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Originally Posted by boekel View Post
In Buenos Aires no changes to the past. Still Club Junior Suite while booking the cheapest category ^
Ditto for Le Grand Paris. Club Jr. Suite at minimum.
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Old Mar 25, 17, 5:19 am
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Originally Posted by boekel View Post
That's wrong. Only president, diplomatic and Park Suite are excluded.

In Buenos Aires no changes to the past. Still Club Junior Suite while booking the cheapest category ^
On website Ive only seen signature suites above sr suites.
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Old Mar 25, 17, 8:00 am
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Originally Posted by skaya View Post
On website Ive only seen signature suites above sr suites.
There are still Club Jr and Sr Suites, which are completely different to the regular Suites and not excluded by the T&C for Berlin anymore
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Old Mar 25, 17, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by boekel View Post
Having seen a lot of hotels inventing fake view categories (here also to name Berlin) I see a severe deterioration of the benefits with the new rules.
I don't think the fake categories (e.g. "Superior", "Superior with View", "Deluxe", "Deluxe with View") can be counted as full categories when upgrading.

I think as a lowly Ambassador entitled to a one-category upgrade, I'd be pretty upset if my upgrade from "Superior with View" would result in a room without view... I would expect a "Deluxe with View" or a "Superior Junior Suite with View".

Two category upgrades should be handled the same way.

Of course, if you book a "Superior" without view, the logic doesn't hold any more.

HTB.
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