In April IHG Rewards Club announced several key changes to their program.
- Points, which previously did not expire, will have 12 month inactivity rules imposed. That’s pretty draconian, actually.
- A new top elite tier, since existing IHG Rewards Club elite levels offer almost nothing (no suites, no club lounge, no breakfast, no late checkout) under the terms and conditions of the program. It will require 75 nights or 75,000 points earned and offer a 100% points bonus on paid stays and the ability to either take 25,000 bonus points or gifting Platinum status (the new mid-tier) to another member
Historically the program, that used to be called Priority Club, has been very generous with points promotions towards free nights but not very generous with elite status. They have a lot of hotels, many limited service. But the lack of benefits even extending to guaranteed late checkout (and excluding upgrade benefits on award stays) has been pretty appalling.
What we know so far of their new top tier status doesn’t do much to change that, even after 75 nights.
But it does have, we just learned, a rather interesting name: Spire Elite.
The New Level Falls Flat
IHG Rewards Club wants this new Spire Elite tier to be… poignant, even. From the press release:
To celebrate the launch, world renowned travel photographer Steve McCurry – who is best known for his 1984 photographic portrait ‘Afghan Girl’ – has joined forces with the world’s biggest hotel loyalty programme to capture how a moment of recognition is brought to life through three poignant photographs. Each photograph depicts that unique and treasured moment at which one person recognises another.
She’s so happy to earn 25,000 bonus points after staying 75 nights this year at Holiday Inn Express.
The goals are:
- Providing the chance to feel part of a special “club”
- Identifying a guest as someone unique, who is “not just a number”
- Remembering something about the individual; their likes, dislikes and preferences
- Providing a reward, a “thank you” for achieving something
And yet all you get after 75 nights is more bonus points for your spending and a choice of either 25,000 more bonus bonus still (worth ~ $150) or gifting Platinum status that’s no longer even top tier and comes with fewer benefits even than Spire Elite (and is given already to all co-brand credit card holders).
What Could They Have Been Thinking With the Name?
This is how IHG Rewards Club describes the name of the Spire Elite tier:
‘Spire’ is derived from the old English word ‘spir’ – a shoot or a stalk of grass standing out amongst the others. It is awe inspiring, exceptional and a symbol of prestige. It conveys a sense of dedication and an aspirational attitude: going above and beyond; the sky is the limit. The name connotes a strong sense of prestige, elevated stature, and worthiness of admiration, along with a sense of dedication and an aspirational attitude, which is in line with how IHG Rewards Club sees its most loyal members who would qualify for this tier.
“Spire Elite” sounds like something you earn in Infinity MileageLands (the EVA Air program). It also sounds like Squire Elite, where you’re indentured for 75 ‘knights’ with the chain. The old English etymology only reinforces this.
A unique name needs unique benefits. This level doesn’t appear to have any. What would they give these members if they didn’t see them as elevated in stature and worthy of admiration… take them out and shoot them?
Instead, you’re caught in the IHG Spire Web. Is your spire sense tingling yet?
Will you stay with IHG de-spire the lack of elite benefits?
When the air conditioning window unit in your unrenovated Holiday Inn room doesn’t work, you perspire and your membership gets you moved to a new room.
This New Level May Also Make Intercontinental Royal Ambassador Status Harder to Get
Intercontinental’s super special Royal Ambassador status (free minibar, and the status that gave me the highest level suites regularly of any chain including Presidental suites, but that was incredibly inconsistent across properties) used to have unpublished qualification criteria.
My bathroom in the Presidential Suite at the Intercontinental Manila had a Sauna
My suite had a back yard at the Intercontinental Montelucia (now an Omni)
Generally you needed 50 qualifying nights with IHG and stays with at least 3 different Intercontinental hotels while an Ambassador member (a level that you have to pay to join).
Last summer they published qualification criteria and it was a bit stricter: 60 qualifying nights, at least 20 of which needing to be at at least 3 different Intercontinental properties.
Now that there’s a going to be a new top tier at IHG Rewards Club that requires 75 nights to earn, the criteria for Intercontinental Royal Ambassador status similarly goes up. According to the this Flyertalk thread it will require 75 nights, including 30 nights at a minimum of 3 different Intercontinental hotel properties, to earn the status.