IHG still flogging Ambassador membership

Old Jan 7, 21, 8:23 am
  #1  
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IHG still flogging Ambassador membership

I find it amusing that IHG is still trying to sell this $200 membership

maybe they did not notice their drop in sales due to the Corona virus?

New Years Eve 2019, I had the pleasure of spending my last night as Royal Ambassador at the IC in HK on Victoria Harbour, fabulous hotel and awesome lounge

IHG was sure to cull their loyal long-time Royal Ambassadors because they were not spending enough $$ just in time for the virus downturn, mission accomplished and job well done

it is unlikely I will ever spend another night at an IC again
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Last edited by jpdx; Jan 10, 21 at 1:02 am Reason: We're calling it Covid or Coronavirus here
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Old Jan 7, 21, 9:07 am
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What happened?
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Old Jan 7, 21, 10:48 am
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It takes two parties to make a transaction - a willign seller and a willing buyer.

If you are an unwilling buyer then no one is forcing you to buy.

Nor is anyone forcing you to stay in IHG hotels (and collect points if you do)
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Old Jan 7, 21, 5:23 pm
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... and airlines are still selling flights
... and cruise lines are still selling cruises
... and hotels are still selling hotel rooms
... and tour operators are still selling tours

So, what's wrong with IHG still selling Ambassador membership?
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Old Jan 7, 21, 5:38 pm
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Revenues and occupancy in China area for IC's are very good again, US across IHG brands actually surprisingly good. Europe is a graveyard and M.E has been doing ok-ish. Rest of SE Asia less good.

So little reason for them be doing anything other really. We all live under the hope and premise that things will be getting better Q2+ ish. Better not fixed.

And for those willing to roll the dice just a little, the late April/May/June time frame threatens some rather good bargains, middling but rising occupancy and subsequent good pricing. Layer AMB upgrades on that and you got some rather good opportunities. I've mined out some incredible points stops and cash stops for that time frame. Whether I get to take them or not remains to be seen I guess.
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Old Jan 7, 21, 6:50 pm
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I guess my point here is Hilton, Qatar Airways and many others all automatically extended elite status in 2021 but IHG is looking for customers to pay in what has been an awful year

and yes I am no longer a willing buyer regarding stays at IC
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Old Jan 7, 21, 9:33 pm
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Originally Posted by #1son View Post
maybe they did not notice their drop in sales due to the XXX virus?
Not to digress, and I hope you didnít have ulterior motives with this slur, but this is inappropriate and carries negative connotations. Itís coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.

khabah
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Last edited by jpdx; Jan 10, 21 at 1:03 am Reason: Fixed quote from edited post
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Old Jan 7, 21, 9:42 pm
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Originally Posted by #1son View Post
I guess my point here is Hilton, Qatar Airways and many others all automatically extended elite status in 2021 but IHG is looking for customers to pay in what has been an awful year

and yes I am no longer a willing buyer regarding stays at IC
I'm not sure about RA status as it's been a few years since I've been RA, like once they imposed the draconian spend requirements. However, it appears my AMB is extend at least until 6/30/21, when my 2020 expiring BOGO is now set to expire. Spire is extended to 2022 also, so not much different than the other chains, though I do get Spire extended each year by buying/renewing AMB in December. $200 is a bargain, compared to what it costs to gain status, plus the 15,000 bonus points, the (previous) 10% rebate on awards, and BOGO make it worth it to me al least. In Jan 2020, I used an expiring BOGO at the IC SF and saved over $300, as the Sat night was almost double the Fri night rate. Last year I only had 1000 points rebated on that 10% rebate, but in previous years it's been more like 25,000.
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Old Jan 8, 21, 2:36 am
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Originally Posted by rbAA View Post
I'm not sure about RA status as it's been a few years since I've been RA, like once they imposed the draconian spend requirements. However, it appears my AMB is extend at least until 6/30/21, when my 2020 expiring BOGO is now set to expire. Spire is extended to 2022 also, so not much different than the other chains, though I do get Spire extended each year by buying/renewing AMB in December. $200 is a bargain, compared to what it costs to gain status, plus the 15,000 bonus points, the (previous) 10% rebate on awards, and BOGO make it worth it to me al least. In Jan 2020, I used an expiring BOGO at the IC SF and saved over $300, as the Sat night was almost double the Fri night rate. Last year I only had 1000 points rebated on that 10% rebate, but in previous years it's been more like 25,000.
Looking at the fact that your AMB status is expiring on 30 Jun 2021 means that originally your status was valid till 31 Dec 2020. If so you were in a somewhat luckier situation than other AMB members. I'll explain why.

As a fact, till today and despite rumors about some upcoming announcement, IHG has only extended AMB status (ignore RA) twice by 3-months each time for members outside of China. This they did extremely hesitantly and made it sound like they are "giving away the crowne jewels". Hence, AMB certificates have also only been extended by 6 months.

Now take one of my family members who has been AMB maybe for 8-9 years. Her original annual renewal date (unfortunately) was 30 Apr 2020, so with the 6 months extension she got 1 Nov 2020 AMB status + Free Weekend Night Certificate validity. She had planned to use the certificate in Feb 2020 which couldn't happen, then rebooked for Apr 2020 which couldn't happen, then Jun 2020, then Aug 2020 then Oct 2020 - none worked out sadly. As of 2 Nov, her AMB certificate expired unused. She is certainly not a happy camper with that and despite several appeals / requests for extension to IHG & AMB services nothing happened.

So the "value" you highlight in your post and that one normally can get from AMB, e.g. from using the certificate, wasn't possible due to COVID. Of course, tough luck one can say, but as other major hotel chains have shown, there can be more reasonable and customer focused extensions of such certificates done by granting a longer validity well into 2021 or depositing a new certificate like for IHG credit cards just a week or two ago. Nada, nothing for regular paid AMB members on that front beyond that crappy, laughable 6-months extension.

So I can understand why someone who has been handled that way by IHG would also not be rushing to hand another 200 USD to IHG for 15K points and the uncertainty whether they will be able to use their new AMB certificate or not as we can't count on IHG to be sensible and receptive to extensions of such free night instruments. She'll certainly not renew AMB at this stage and when travel resumes in the future (assuming IHG hasn't addressed this sore point), stays surely won't go IHG's way. To me it would be shortsighted by IHG to handle loyal customers that way as reacquisition normally costs a multiple of retention, but their leadership doesn't exactly have a reputation for decision making with the customer in mind / at heart, so as a consequence one can only vote with his / her feet. YMMV.
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Last edited by demue; Jan 8, 21 at 2:46 am
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Old Jan 8, 21, 4:47 am
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Originally Posted by #1son View Post
I guess my point here is Hilton, Qatar Airways and many others all automatically extended elite status in 2021 but IHG is looking for customers to pay in what has been an awful year

and yes I am no longer a willing buyer regarding stays at IC
But your underlying IHG status (I'll assume Spire if you're RA) has been extented until the end of this year. And IIRC that was done last March / April not begrudgingly in the last days of December.

They also reduced the earnings requirements for last year and these have been extended to this year as well - have just had that confirmed via webchat

There have been 2* 3 months extensions of AMB. Not sure what they did for RA. I don't move in such company.

In the scheme of things I've been more than satisfied with what IHG have done re status and qualification levels. You disagree and that's fine but I think you are very much in the minority.

At the moment I am holding off renewing my AMB (date current extended one ends is 1st March). I may just let that lapse and renew later in the year once travel starts up again and they may do a retention offer. I may ask for the 6 months one off extenstion to the status but know they won't extend the weekend voucher. Not sure yet.
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Old Jan 8, 21, 6:29 am
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mostly valid points noted above

I now understand why they were trying to sell me AMB, I am permanent HK resident and I guess that makes me a China member?

really do not pay much attention to Spire status and the original Royal Ambassador program really was the best status offered by any hotel chain IMO

Last edited by #1son; Jan 8, 21 at 6:40 am
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Old Jan 8, 21, 7:38 am
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Originally Posted by demue View Post
Looking at the fact that your AMB status is expiring on 30 Jun 2021 means that originally your status was valid till 31 Dec 2020. If so you were in a somewhat luckier situation than other AMB members. I'll explain why.

As a fact, till today and despite rumors about some upcoming announcement, IHG has only extended AMB status (ignore RA) twice by 3-months each time for members outside of China. This they did extremely hesitantly and made it sound like they are "giving away the crowne jewels". Hence, AMB certificates have also only been extended by 6 months.

Now take one of my family members who has been AMB maybe for 8-9 years. Her original annual renewal date (unfortunately) was 30 Apr 2020, so with the 6 months extension she got 1 Nov 2020 AMB status + Free Weekend Night Certificate validity. She had planned to use the certificate in Feb 2020 which couldn't happen, then rebooked for Apr 2020 which couldn't happen, then Jun 2020, then Aug 2020 then Oct 2020 - none worked out sadly. As of 2 Nov, her AMB certificate expired unused. She is certainly not a happy camper with that and despite several appeals / requests for extension to IHG & AMB services nothing happened.

So the "value" you highlight in your post and that one normally can get from AMB, e.g. from using the certificate, wasn't possible due to COVID. Of course, tough luck one can say, but as other major hotel chains have shown, there can be more reasonable and customer focused extensions of such certificates done by granting a longer validity well into 2021 or depositing a new certificate like for IHG credit cards just a week or two ago. Nada, nothing for regular paid AMB members on that front beyond that crappy, laughable 6-months extension.

So I can understand why someone who has been handled that way by IHG would also not be rushing to hand another 200 USD to IHG for 15K points and the uncertainty whether they will be able to use their new AMB certificate or not as we can't count on IHG to be sensible and receptive to extensions of such free night instruments. She'll certainly not renew AMB at this stage and when travel resumes in the future (assuming IHG hasn't addressed this sore point), stays surely won't go IHG's way. To me it would be shortsighted by IHG to handle loyal customers that way as reacquisition normally costs a multiple of retention, but their leadership doesn't exactly have a reputation for decision making with the customer in mind / at heart, so as a consequence one can only vote with his / her feet. YMMV.
Good points, though my AMB used to be a mid-year renewal affair, but I thought they shifted all to a calendar year, like mine was, either by their action or maybe due to my renewing in Dec, after a break in AMB membership, like I'll do this year, as I won't bother renewing until Dec to keep Spire rolling, if needed. Hoping that they might sweeten the deal also. The Spire rollover is the best part of the $200 spent for AMB, the other bene's are the frosting, and a money maker, though I'm seeing they dropped the 10% rebate on award points used. I stay at many of the same properties frequently, so Spire is of some good, mainly UPG's and the occasional suite.

The BOGO can be difficult, though I found my 2019 expiring one difficult to use and the AMB CS did an extension, to Jan 2020, as I used it at the IC SF mid-Jan. I could use the 2021 expiring one at IC HH, IC Pattaya, or IC Bangkok, if the Thailand quarantine rule is not lifted, and I can't easily get back here. None of those really interest me, as I like to use it at the IC SF when I go to visit my younger son. But still something is better than nothing.
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Old Jan 8, 21, 1:09 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by #1son View Post
I guess my point here is Hilton, Qatar Airways and many others all automatically extended elite status in 2021 but IHG is looking for customers to pay in what has been an awful year

and yes I am no longer a willing buyer regarding stays at IC
I am not aware of any of these extending status back in 2019 to extend into 20020. During 2019 there was no real impact to travel due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so why would there have been any reason for IHG to extend RA status if someone failed to spend enough in 2019 to maintain status.
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Old Jan 8, 21, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by rbAA View Post
I'm not sure about RA status as it's been a few years since I've been RA, like once they imposed the draconian spend requirements. However, it appears my AMB is extend at least until 6/30/21, when my 2020 expiring BOGO is now set to expire. Spire is extended to 2022 also, so not much different than the other chains, though I do get Spire extended each year by buying/renewing AMB in December. $200 is a bargain, compared to what it costs to gain status, plus the 15,000 bonus points, the (previous) 10% rebate on awards, and BOGO make it worth it to me al least. In Jan 2020, I used an expiring BOGO at the IC SF and saved over $300, as the Sat night was almost double the Fri night rate. Last year I only had 1000 points rebated on that 10% rebate, but in previous years it's been more like 25,000.
You were in a fortunate niche. The piddling series of extensions for most of us have been released grudgingly from a miser's grip, while "book with confidence" measures have been clumsy.

Contrast with Hilton, which was quick to respond with clear and generous extensions to membership, and with the straightforward rule that all bookings became flexible. OK, there were a few bumps in the road, but it generally worked well.

Ambassador membership can give nice IC upgrades, but as often as not I'm left puzzled about what's upgraded. The Hilton attitude to upgrades is no better, but there are no question breakfast at ALL Hilton family hotels, AND lounge access where lounges exist - and no shill for $200.

Sure, IC lounges are generally much, much nicer than Hilton lounges. But as an Ambassador you have to pay for them. And for breakfast.


The "free" weekend night can give some value. But since the perk was devalued, its a weak benefit. Unless you'd normally book rooms at fully flexible rates, or get hooked into the irrationality of booking more expensive rooms to save money, then you are unlikely to net more than the Ambassador fee in a year.

They gave me one free year as Ambassador after booting me out of the Royal Ambassador club. I haven't renewed Ambassador membership. A couple of IC's continue to treat me well, but if another IC appeals I'm happy to pay for the room category I want - and allow the hotel to benefit rather than give IHG $200.
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Old Jan 8, 21, 9:59 pm
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Originally Posted by IAN-UK View Post
Sure, IC lounges are generally much, much nicer than Hilton lounges. But as an Ambassador you have to pay for them. And for breakfast..
Well, there is the $20 F&B benefit, which I used at the IC Yokohama for breakfast (a light one as I was flying JL business class back to BKK and their meal was actually pretty good,) and also at the IC SF, though it didn't go very far there. Really don't put much value on hotel breakfasts in general, except in those exceptional places where it's a great variety and actually edible. And, too many spend too many evenings doing the "per diem" routine in hotel lounges, when you should get out and experience the local cuisine. Though my younger son really enjoyed the IC SF lounge-maybe the sliders from Luce, or the free flowing drinks.

Using a flexible rate for the BOGO is preferred as my rate last Jan at the IC SF dropped substantially for the first night, while the second night stayed high-playoff SF 49ers game on Sunday I'm guessing.
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