IHG Rewards Club sent out an email to members to let them know that if they do not book direct, they will no longer provide full program benefits. (HT: One Mile at a Time)
Effective 1 January 2017, members must book directly through IHG® (IHG.com, IHG® App, IHG® brand sites, corporate travel sites, Central Reservations, or Hotel direct) and not through other travel booking sites in order to take full advantage of the benefits that come with an IHG® Rewards Club membership. Why? We want to give you the best travel experience—from start to finish—every time. And we can only do that when you book with us directly.
Here’s the thing, though.
- The program doesn’t provide points on bookings made through third parties
- And elite benefits haven’t been provided on such bookings for years.
It’s not clear at all what’s new here. And it’s not clear that it matters either way, at least with respect to benefits, because the program doesn’t really offer much in terms of benefits.
IHG Rewards Club offers reasonable points-earning and redemption. They’re all about the points (although there’s no option to redeem points for premium rooms or suites.)
They can skip elite benefits on third party stays and you may not know the difference, because even when you book direct:
- There is no guaranteed lounge access.
- There is no guaranteed late checkout.
- There is no guaranteed upgrade to suites, even when available at check-in.
- There is no guaranteed breakfast.
Even IHG’s new top tier Spire elite really just gets you more points (including 25,000 points for qualifying or the ability to gift mid-tier status, which will get the recipient more points).
Most of what you get on-property from a participating Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, or related brand is the generosity of the individual hotel. And of course that could still continue to happen for third party bookings as well.