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Shangri-La Hotels: The NEW Golden Circle Program

Shangri-La Hotels: The NEW Golden Circle Program

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Old Oct 18, 10, 9:26 pm
  #1  
JRK
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Join Date: Feb 2007
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Shangri-La Hotels: The NEW Golden Circle Program

As noted in the previous thread, SL has just announced a new GC program, going into effect next week: http://www.shangri-la.com/en/corporate/goldencircle

On first glance, the main change is the introduction of point in addition the former "appreciation only" elements of the program. Given the significant expansion of SL in the last years, personally I think it was high time for a move like this.

After a first read, here is my initial take on the changes -all others pls weigh in with your thoughts:
  • Membership levels: slights reduced quali criteria (stay requirement at min 2 properties removed, only 50 days required for Diamond, not only night based but also stay based quali criteria).
  • Added flexibility with point redemption for free nights and upgrades (probably need to wait until the redemption chart comes out to fully rate this change - I hear there will be 5 hotel tiers defined, requiring different amounts of points for redemptions)
  • None stay redemption classes (e.g. F&B vouchers) added
  • Additional Elite (Jade 25%, Diamond 50%) bonus for earning (a totally new benefit)
  • Additional earning for F&B and Spa spending (a totally new benefit, but be aware of the minimum spend requirement of 50 USD); elite bonus also applicable for this spending category
  • Continuing to allow double dip for airline miles
  • Diamond (old Elite) benefits seem largely the same (certainly the very important Horizon Club access, room guarantee and early check-in/ late check-out are still there), additional small benefits like higher cash advance.
  • The main downgrade I see is on the entry level, where the breakfast benefit (used to
be 50% off) has disappeared.

I will have my first stay under the new regime in 2 weeks, letís see if that brings any additional insights. I expect the former significant "appreciation" and personalised services to elite members will continue to remain in place in addition to the new points earning possibilities.

Cheers
JRK
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Old Oct 19, 10, 12:00 am
  #2  
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does it really allow double-dip for airline miles ? I thought it's either GC points or airlines miles...

and, for the Elite bonus...yes it's "new" for GC points, but we used to have "elite bonus" for airline miles too...

another downside of course is the suite upgrade for Elites (of course it doesn't happen as often now anyway, vs. like 10 years ago when I pretty much got upgraded 100% of the time to big suites).

hard to say it's overall good or bad...the points of course are good, but not like it would easily attract me from other chains...but let's wait for the redemption chart...
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Old Oct 19, 10, 1:02 am
  #3  
JRK
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Airline miles

Originally Posted by tedhl View Post
does it really allow double-dip for airline miles ? I thought it's either GC points or airlines miles...
I think you are right. I re-read the quote and -whist ambiguous- I now also think it is meant that you need to choose if you want (airline) miles or (GC) points before the stay. That being said, there also seems to be an attractive 1:1 conversion to airline miles with no fees.

Given the average spend on my stays (particularly now also counting F&B and (not so often) Spa), a 50% bonus over the points awarded (1 US = 1GC point) would usually be better than the straight mileage credit.

You have an excellent point for short stays though, I wonder if the elite bonus would still be applied to the airline miles if you choose not to earn GC points for a stay....?
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Old Oct 19, 10, 4:47 pm
  #4  
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oh interesting, didn't know about this 1:1 conversion earlier. but now found it in the T&C...but in this sense then it's definitely less attractive than SPG ? SPG: USD 1 = 3 Starpoints (for Elite) = 3.75 miles (if you transfer 20k Starpoints = 25k miles)...while here it's USD 1 = 1.5 GC Points = 1.5 mile ? and, in SPG their definition of spending is slightly more generous ? not just F&B and Spa, but also telecom expenses etc ? I think similarly for Marriott too, but don't have the exact conversion off my head. and I think for SPG the minimum for earning points as a non-hotel-guest is USD 10 or so ? while it's USD 50 here...

I think the elite bonus doesn't apply now if you choose airline miles for a stay...the 25%/50% in the benefits table quite clearly say "GC Points" now, and the detailed table with 3 columns (Classic, Exec, Elite) of airline miles for each of the airlines have been changed into a single column now.

and, one question, on their press release, "Golden Circle is the only international loyalty programme that allows both staying and non-staying guests to earn and redeem Golden Circle Awards Points (GC Awards)" don't quite understand what this really means ? of course the "golden circle" program is the only one to earn/redeem "golden circle points" ? like SPG is the only program that allows members to earn and redeem Starpoints ?? or if it's the point about staying vs. non-staying, SPG also allows too (and more generously)...so, not quite sure what's this "only" point referring to ? any clue ?
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Old Oct 19, 10, 7:59 pm
  #5  
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Thanks for alerting me to the SPG 20k conversion bonus. They have comped me PLT this year, but I did not go into all this details yet... And yes, I agree that makes the airline miles conversion much more generous. Remains to be seen how the GC redemption chart looks like to assess if one would usually convert GC points to airline miles or use for upgrades and free nights.

I think the "only" is intended to mean that GC is the only program to allow non staying guest to earn miles for F&B and Spa.

From your experience tedhl: can you also earn SPG points for F&B when you are not staying at the hotels?
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Old Oct 20, 10, 4:33 am
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JRK, well done for kicking this discussion off...

My first impressions:

Lower qualification level - I think I'll need it this year...so: Good.

Loss of free upgrade....at first I thought this was a real loss - the upgrades were what made GC different from every other hotel program. But after having returned from a three hotel run (Shenzhen - good, Kowloon - OK, Island - sensational) without having a single upgrade, I wonder if it's as significant a loss as I first thought. For many of us it may be the loss of a theoretical benefit that was increasingly rare in practice, replaced by a tangible benefit that will not be diminished by further growth in membership.

The other changes don't really affect me much.

The key issues for me:
- what is the final earn/burn ratio?
- hopefully there will still be some level of upgrades for the most frequent stayers, even if not specifically promised up front as they were previously.
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Old Oct 20, 10, 3:05 pm
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Gone is the 50% breakfast discount, and partner stays free with similar breakfast benefit, for the lowest tier member.

I don't get to achieve many stays with Shangri-La each year because it's my corporate hotel in very few cities in Asia, am always stuck in the lowest tier, so this in my view was the best benefit that now has been taken away.

Still, the new card design is much nicer though.
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Old Oct 20, 10, 4:19 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by JRK View Post
From your experience tedhl: can you also earn SPG points for F&B when you are not staying at the hotels?
yes, if I remember right I did it quite a few times before, it's quite a published benefits...but, I think for SPG it's only the restaurants, and not the spa...i.e. I'm not sure if you can get SPG points from spa, if you're not an in-house guest...but I'm not 100% sure...
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Old Oct 20, 10, 7:45 pm
  #9  
JRK
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Originally Posted by FortuneofWar View Post
- hopefully there will still be some level of upgrades for the most frequent stayers, even if not specifically promised up front as they were previously.
I believe that years of making GC about recognition for most loyal guests (even before the more recent "you are part of our family" campaign) is still in the DNA of local service managers, front office coordinators and guest relations personnel. Therefore I would also think that upgrades might continue to happen - albeit they are no longer a "published" benefit.

I am at Pu Dong Shangri-La this week and will be back in two weeks: Will report back on any differences I note between the application of the old and the new GC.
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Old Oct 21, 10, 8:45 am
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Boy have they really stripped it back on the features for the lowest tier.

The partner stay free has gone, as has the suite upgrade from $39 that I personally found very useful personally - having used it several times!

Oh well... Another cost-cutting across all the membership programs... Infact, never has a 'Gold' level membership been so bad! haha
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Old Oct 24, 10, 2:03 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by tedhl View Post
and I think for SPG the minimum for earning points as a non-hotel-guest is USD 10 or so ? while it's USD 50 here...
Just received the T&Cs, but could not find a refernce to the 50 USD min spend. Where did you see that? I only saw the USD 50 lowest value F&B voucher as a redemption benefit. From reading the T&C, it would appear that any F&B and SPA spending, even if not an in-house guest, gets credited. Am I missing anything?

Also saw the redemption chart, it gives 7 categories ranging from 1.000; 2.000; 3.500; 5.000; 6.500; 9.500 to 20.000 points. But still no indications which properties are going to be in which category. Highest category for Tokyo, Maledives and the new European properties is an easy guess, but I details on the lower 4 categoreis are going to be very interesting....

Another thing I notices in the T&C is that room rewards seem to include the relevant taxes - which I think is a pretty good deal (seeing as this can easily be 15-20 % of room rate in some AP contries).....
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Old Oct 25, 10, 2:48 am
  #12  
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http://www.shangri-la.com/en/corpora...cle/earnpoints

Points for Non-Hotel Stays
You do not need to be a hotel staying guest to earn GC Award Points. You will earn GC Award Points on qualifying spending of USD50 or more on food and beverage, as well as treatments at CHI, The Spa at any Shangri-La hotel, resort or Traders hotel.
what do you mean by "room rewards seem to include the relevant taxes" ? i.e. when redeeming reward stay you do not need to pay taxes ? I thought it's always (or at least most often) the case for all hotel programs ? at least for Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, etc ?
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Old Oct 25, 10, 3:34 am
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Thanks. Yes, I also think Shangri-la have to get strong their loyalty program. But this enhancing program is so weaker than any other major hotels'. I know shangri-la has good properties but this program is not attractive.
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Old Oct 25, 10, 8:11 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by tedhl View Post
[url] I thought it's always (or at least most often) the case for all hotel programs ? at least for Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, etc ?
I guess that disclosed that I have not redeemed many free nights in the past... I was comparing to MPC and other airline programs where we always have to pay the taxes when issuing award tickets.

BdW, took your advice and transfered 20.000 SPG points to MPC today to get the 5.000 miles bonus.
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Old Nov 1, 10, 12:34 am
  #15  
JRK
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First Stay under the new GC

Originally Posted by JRK View Post
Will report back on any differences I note between the application of the old and the new GC.
So I am back in PDSL and glad to report that upgrades for DM still exist. The hotel seems very full (last weekend of expo) and I didn't quite get the suite, but a beautiful Premier Bund View Room. This is perfect for the week and is definitely a few categories above what I had originally reserved.

They also have new key card with the new GC logo and I received an additional "dining invitation" card (left in my room today) with an invitation to sample some special dishes at the different restaurants, including a special discount (10 RMB of for every 100 spend).
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