Priority Club (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, etc.) is probably worse than any other chain with respect to hotel properties complying with the terms and conditions of their loyalty program.
One specific area where this manifests itself is upgrades for elite members (Platinums can never really know what to expect at a Holiday Inn, and Royal Ambassador treatment varies markedly at all Intercontinentals — is there an upgrade at all? is it to an executive room or a suite or two room categories or…?).
But what bothers me most at the moment is their decision to award points and stay credit on any given rate. You just never know whether you’re going to earn points. And even if you think you should, reporting a discrepancy after the fact may or may not be met with favorable customer service.
One rule that seems to be applied sometimes is that you will not earn any points when booking a hotel rate that’s less than 30% of the ‘normal’ rate (whatever this is, it doesn’t seem to be rack) at a hotel. This rule that some hotels seem to use and some Priority Club customer service agents think exists is nowhere to be found in the program’s terms and conditions.
The only reference to 30% discounts and points earning is that points will be earned on conference rates or discounts negotiated directly with a hotel when the rate is discounted less than 30% (off what?).
This item in the terms and conditions does not apply to any other situation. Yet some hotels just refuse to pay for points to be awarded on other discounted rates, and Priority Club lets them get away with it. I imagine they just have poor enforcement mechanisms written into their hotel contracts, and don’t have a good way to make properties pay for points when they don’t wish to do so. And the program chooses not to eat the expense itself.
Points are also awarded inconsistently when Intercontinental Ambassador members use their ‘free weekend night’ certificates. You pay for one night (which should earn points and stay credit) and get the next night free. If the hotel chooses to ‘spread the rate’ evenly across the two nights (which is incorrect) they then argue that the stay is discounted more than 30% and thus ineligible for points, even though the terms and conditions of the program doesn’t provide for this. An appeal to customer service will sometimes yield points, sometimes it will not.
What’s most outrageous is that there’s no way to know in advance, when booking a hotel, whether or not points and stay credit will be awarded. Apparently there’s no simple rule like at other chains that ‘all stays booked on the Priority Club website will earn points.’ Or that points will be earned unless the customer is advised otherwise, at least advised in the rate details. Shouldn’t they at least give customers the option to book a qualifying rate if not all rates will qualify?
This really is a backward program. It’s not as bad as Radisson’s Goldpoints, which I’ve found to be downright dishonest (I blame the company managing that program, which also manages Amtrak Guest Rewards). But it’s not a first-tier program by any stretch a la Marriott, Hilton, or Starwood.
If I wasn’t a Royal Ambassador member and entitled to complimentary drinks from the mini-bar I wouldn’t ever stay at an Intercontinental property, simply for this reason.