IHG’s New Promotional Free Nights: No Special Gotchas, They Really Are That Good

IHG Rewards is running a super generous free nights promotion. At least it’s super-generous for some, the specific offers a member will get vary. But the base offer is pretty good where three Holiday Inn nights booked carefully can be turned into two free nights at any Intercontinental Hotels Group property in the world.

Regarding the usefulness of these nights, I had already written:

IHG confirmed for me that these free nights work just list their co-brand credit card’s annual free night: usable at any participating IHG property (as long as reward nights are available)

But others were talking as though they thought the inventory would be more limited. This concern seemed to trace back to a Loyalty Lobby post that relayed word from IHG on the promotion terms and concluded,

This seems to imply that they have specific award inventory reserved for these free nights awards and it can be drastically different from the points based one.

A couple of readers asked me if I would reach out to IHG again to clarify. So I shot off an email last night:

Contra what you confirmed below I’m hearing that the reward nights earned through this promotion may not be like the credit card or points award nights in that they have their own limited inventory with less availability.

Can you confirm that indeed the free nights earned with this promotion have the same availability as reward nights on points and the free credit card night?

That obviously affects the value proposition of this promotion.

And I heard back fairly quickly — there’s no separate, special, limited inventory for these promotional reward nights:

I am confirming that the “free nights” earned with this promotion have the same availability as Reward Nights (using points to redeem for a free night) and the free nights are like the free credit card night.

But just to be double triple super sure (that I wasn’t misreading the reply), I asked back:

For clarity’s sake are you saying you are working to get confirmation, or that you are – with this email – confirming it to me? Sorry if I’m a bit dense!

And was told in response:

This email serves as confirmation. No worries!

There you have it, straight from the executive offices at IHG. No doubt some will remain concerned. I am not concerned.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] In my recent post, “Into the Nights, or not?” I questioned the value of the 2 free nights option that the promo offers.  Fortunately, Gary, from View from the Wing, did his homework and received confirmation from IHG that the free nights earned from this promo really are as good as the free nights that come with the IHG credit card.  Details here: “IHG’s New Promotional Free Nights: No Special Gotchas, They Really Are That Good.” […]

Comments

  1. I was confused about this. I had no offers like everyone seems to be showing except stay twice and get 2 free nights.

    So I called yesterday and was told that it is as simple as that: stay (meaning pay for a night) and get a free night at ANY IHG (availability dependent like the annual free night) and I can do that twice. Must take award in January if I complete the night(s) and is valid until 12/31/2015.

  2. Great to know that both you and IHG are standing behind these free nights! 🙂

    I don’t think I’ve seen an easier offer than mine — I can get the two free nights for a single Holiday Inn stay (breakfast package rate booked on the app) plus the credit card.

  3. Just booked two nights for my Wife’s offer. She needs to complete 4 out of 5 offers. Book 2 Saturdays @ any IHG hotel > 4800 , book 2 stays on web or app > 1900, download and book on app > 1000, stay @ Even hotel > 24,000 , stay 5 nights @ any IHG hotel >8400. Complete 4 out of 5 offers and earn 16000 bonus or 2 free nights. We booked Even in Norwalk this Saturday and another stay the following Saturday which we were doing anyhow. That completes 4 out of 5 so hello 2 free nights.

  4. I don’t mind giving a big middle finger to IHG for this promotion and the previous Big Win. As a 14+ year IHG member with platinum pretty much the past 10 years including several years with well over 125 nights just at IHG properties I can’t exactly get excited about “stay 28 nights” or stay at 3 international intercontinental properties, etc.

    Way to give out the 2 free nights to people who basically never stay with IHG and make it virtually impossible for those of us who have gone out of our way to give them our business over the years.

    Last time I wrote a letter expressing disappointment with the ridiculous big win requirement of staying at both a property in japan and Australia during the promo period (what? Because I happened to visit there the previous year they think I’m just gonna go back for promo points?) – and IHG gave me 25k points just for laying out my reasoning.

    I will not even be writing them this time and will just pretend there is no promotion.

  5. Crikey I can’t even get registered, although I did get an email just now saying the inability to register for the offer they emailed to me was a “known issue” that they intended to fix. Also that they would backdate any stays to September 4. So maybe baby.

  6. Matt S – Totally agree. 20 nights and 18 stays at bonus point/breakfast rate, etc. for 50K or 2 nt.

    I’m burning my IHG points (about 500K) and then I’m done with them.

  7. @carl p

    I have earned and burned millions of points with IHG. They certainly aren’t the flashiest nor do they offer the status accommodations of other chains, but I will always earn points with them because they are so versatile. I can go just about anywhere and find a place to stay for 15-30k a night. I usually have about 300k points to use alongside Hilton or Hyatt on vacations.

    My work budget doesn’t allow for Hyatt or SPG nearly enough so I focus on IHG and Hilton and more recently club Carlson. These IHG promotions just tick me off so much. I suppose with it becoming more difficult to stack multiple promotional codes I will consider slowing down with them. Obviously platinum is fairly worthless except for the bonus points.

    I suggest keeping IHG points around for the times when Hilton is astronomical and there are no other alternatives. I’m using some IHG for Tokyo bay intercontinental soon at 35k/night. Thanks to the club Carlson card I have been taking advantage of a lot of 2 nights for the price of one stays and am going to stay at all club Carlson properties during the triple promo plus 3k app booking.

  8. Gary, Do you know if choosing the “book early and save” night rate counts or do I need to book at the “1000 bonus points rate”?

  9. That email seems reassuring but it doesn’t change the fact they should have made this 100% clear in the published T&Cs – we don’t all have that email and I doubt saying we really it on a blog will carry much weight!

    There’s also the issue that a significant number of folk aren’t able to access their offer and keep being told just to wait longer by IHG staff – giving them less and less time to meet the requirements.

    Also their IT is still poor – one 3-night redemption stay has led to wildly unachievable targets in my case and I’m not alone in this!

  10. This makes no sense though. The T&C’s Loyalty Lobby was sent CLEARLY say that reward availability will be restricted for these certs and they CLEARLY say it will be more restricted than normal free nights.

    Since I doubt John made it up (!) someone at IHG clearly does not believe that the nights will work the same as normal reward night availability.

    Whilst I have more faith in your source Gary, the commentators above who are relying in good faith in what the IHG call centre is telling them have been drinking too much happy juice.

  11. @Matt, the BigWin/IntoTheNights promos seem to use some “sophisticated” logic to personalize their promos.
    After staying countless nights at IHG properties over many years and regular Platinum/Ambassador status, I had two ridiculous BigWin offers, staid exactly 0 paid nights with them for three quarters – and guess what, the latest promo is much more reasonable – three one-night stays on Saturdays abroad will do it for me…
    while they might respond favorably to your email, the algorithm will adjust eventually…

  12. My daughter got a fantastic Into the Nights offer…much better than mine. If she books and I stay (without her), would she get the free nights? Or is that pushing it?

  13. @Raffles IHG terms and conditions have been re-written generally lately to cover themselves more and note limitations on reward nights. If I had to guess — and this is just a guess — there are terms and conditions being written by lawyers who aren’t tracking how the business processes are actually being handled.

  14. i tend to be critical of this blog when i think it is warranted. but i still read it because Gary, by and large, puts out a good product and has good contacts. made me laugh too, as that 2nd confirmation to confirm is exactly what i’d have done! so, i’ll be participating in this promo. and this post is now bookmarked under ‘ihg into the night 9.2014 Gary free nights confirm x2’. jic!

  15. With due respect Gary, so you’re telling us we’re to take your word for it, to ignore the written T&C CHAOS at IHG, and then plan on these free nights being equivalent to the free nights that come with the ihg credit card?????

    Sorry, how much are they paying you?

    I don’t trust IHG on this. WHY the blazes couldn’t they just CHANGE the *&^%$ blasted T&C to be so crystal clear as your source was with you?

    Until they have the integrity to put this in writing, sorry, I’m NOT taking your word for it. (or Drew or anybody else)

    AND DO NOT GO blaming this on lawyers. That’s too easy and LAZY on your part.

  16. Let me try this again, Greg, politely: Did your source in your emails authorize you to use his name, his position, his level of authority? Presume this source was NOT in the Philippines?

    Yes, he says, “no worries.” That’s cool, and wish I could have the same level of confidence. But you’re not fessing up enough.

    Try asking your source to change to T&C’s and the promotion itself to be “crystal clear.”

    If not, the worries justifiably remain. “The word” has not been demonstrably given….. at least not to my satisfaction.

  17. @scott I’m telling you what IHG says about how the promotion works. You can do with that information as you wish. I was asked to follow up and seek this clarification by readers, I do not think it’s necessary — for passing along the response – to suggest I am somehow being paid by IHG. I have never been paid by IHG. For anything.

    As I’ve written above, it was a massive fail to not even post t&c at all when the promo launched. But I hardly think that going out and seeking clarification constitutes ‘lazy’ on my part. 😉

    But thanks for venting your feelings to and about me!

  18. Ah, typo the name, sorry Greg. You write:

    “No doubt some will remain concerned.”

    Do you have a clue why? Yes, you got it first hand, from an un-named source? Or would you rather just chide us for not having sufficient “faith” in your telling of “the word” from on high.

  19. Yes, “venting” — and apologies I’m taking it out on you. But so many of the bloggers in this realm do have “financial relationships” with the companies they tout…. I do want to believe you and your HQ source. A simple correction of the promotions terms, for all to see, would settle the matter. (and cool the jets) Thank you

  20. I would love to see better t&c, as I’ve said.

    I always disclose where I have financial relationships, which is predominantly with some banks.

    I have never had one with IHG (or any other hotel or airline). When I had a ‘financial relationship’ with National Car Rental — hosting an online event for them which came with compensation — I gave away that compensation to readers.

  21. @scott – source was not in the Philippines, but in the executive offices of IHG. I was in a hurry to get the info out since it’s been a live ongoing controversy, and I was very busy throughout the day yesterday so while the email sat in my inbox for 12 hours I didn’t have a chance to reply and explicitly ask permission to identify the person in question. So I posted the contents without attribution.

  22. My offer has CHANGED. On the 1st or 2nd day to sign up I had the Minimum 3 stay offers. GREAT I thought! I Logged in later and my offer jumped to 7 nights! I logged in a day later and it dropped BACK Down to 3 stays! So I took a screen shot. Over a week later, today, I log in and I am back to the min 7 days (or 3 & CC). I looked at my screen shot and it doesn’t really give any info.. when you are logged in the account #/id doesn’t show your account info to show you are actually logged in. So I think I am probably at their mercy with the switching offers.
    I was wondering if others have noticed this?

  23. I really like IHG and it’s my primary hotel chain but….They seem to fail at marketing of these promotions. If they are so complicated (separate login site, etc.) yet transparent in their discrimination against heavy frequent customers (I get to say 19 nights for 14,000 points, oh wow !). I registered but will not focus on IHG as I’m shifting my business elsewhere after the “Big” win.

  24. I wrote the following about two hours ago:
    My daughter got a fantastic Into the Nights offer…much better than mine. If she books and I stay (without her), would she get the free nights? Or is that pushing it?
    We both have the same surname and the same address.
    No one addressed this question, and it would be nice to know the answer.

  25. Larry–I don’t know for sure but whoever makes the reservation will get the benfits and bonuses. She can always add you to the reservation as an additional guest which should allow you to check in without any problems.

  26. @gpks00 — The same thing has happened to me. My initial offer was for three nights and now it shows 9. It’s pretty shocking how poorly this has been implemented especially since they’ve run two big wins which are basically the same without such huge blunders. At least you have a screen capture. I didn’t even think of taking one. Very frustrating.

  27. Gary, sorry you got caught in the middle of this. I don’t get the criticism of you for just trying to get this cleared up for us.

    But IHG needs to know that a redacted email from an anonymous person that runs counter to the published T/Cs just won’t reassure many of us. Especially when the email runs counter to the published T/Cs. And the fact that some of us are finding our “offers” changing from day to day is making us downright cynical about the company as a whole.

  28. Does anyone know if the book early and save” rate is ok, or do I need to book at the “1000 bonus points rate”?

  29. Zoe, I asked specifically if the AAA and the advanced rates qualitfy for this promo to a IHG rewards rep on the phone and they said yes, all the usual regular rates count. I guess the only ones that don’t are deeply discounted rates that most of us don’t get to use routinely. You can always call and check with the IHG rewards staff just to confirm. I booked one with a nonrefundable rate, which I normally wouldnt do for a promo like this, but after speaking on the phone I felt assured they would be honoring this. I had to do the 4 stays for 2 nights generic offer. Good Luck

  30. re: IHG ‘Free Nights,’ when checking in/out of hotel using one of these free nights, I recommend confirming with front desk that you should only be billed for incidentals. I recently reserved a night at Intercontinental in Montreal but they billed my cc for the stay and have refused for two months to reverse the charge. Chase has upheld their decision (and informed credit agencies of such) while IHG has told me they are looking into the matter. Until now, I have never had a problem and still see IHG/Priority Club as one of the most consumer-friendly hotel programs.

  31. IHG does not show in any way a person’s progression toward completing an offer. I have completed all 5 of my offers a week ago and the points for the 3 stays to complete the 5 offers posted for me YET IHG shows not 1 of my offers being completed. (yes I did sign up for this promotion) Marriott does not do this in their promotions. Gary – Do you know when they post that offers have been completed after stays have posted? I have no idea if IHG is giving any credit. I would not suggest anyone stay at IHG to play this game as it does not seem that their computer systems will properly calculate or apply the stays correctly. I am really wondering if I will get the credits. Definitely losing faith in IHG.

  32. I completed all offers also. My first stay didn’t track but subsequent stays did track. I called IHG and was told: We are yet to fully access and view the details of your customized offer as the assigned team are still polishing some issues. Rest assured that your qualifying stays from the start of the promotion will count. Kindly allow 2 to 3 weeks for your account to update and points to be posted.

  33. Here’s a gotcha: Some people’s “Book a stay using the app” has now become “Book [anywhere from 1-59] stays using the app” where double digits is quite common.

  34. Thanks for the heads up. Just checked my Wife’s offer and it changed from “Download and book 1 stay” to “Download and book 3 stays.” She completed all the offers and that was the only challenge that didn’t post as completed. I did take a screen shot of her original offer so I hope that will carry some weight in getting her 2 free nights without having to complete additional bookings on the app. I don’t like the sleazy changes one bit.

  35. I just got my 2nd round of bonus points added to my account. Cost – 6 total nights @ $100 each (stays we needed anyways but would have gone to another brand) – approx $600.00. Benefit – 2 free nights at the Intercontinental Hong Kong and enough additional points for the 3rd night we need (40K + $40). Least expensive room for the 3 nights – total of $1167. This was a good promo for me…..

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