Rumors of IHG Ending Ambassador/RA Status

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On a German forum yesterday someone posted about their call with IHG calls center, where the agent stated that they will be “phasing out” RA status. This is a bit of a “he said she said”, as this phone agent had heard this from Ambassador services recently.

Then a second person in the comments said that a GM and front of office manager also indicated the exact same thing – that IHG will get rid of Ambassador status and RA status.

The reason was stated that IHG is trying to grow a few more brands, like IHG’s new luxury brand in China – Hualuxe. And the fact of the matter is, Platinum status really doesn’t get you anything. So it makes more and more sense to have a status that works with all brands.

Is this rumor substantiated?

Consider two things:

1) Without announcement from IHG numerous people on flyertalk started stating that they no longer got Royal Ambassador referral certificates upon their renewal. They were just gone over night and with no comments by IHG.

A system that’s been in place for a long time, and now they’re trying to cut their Royal Ambassadors down greatly.

2) Two different people on the same day posted hearings of the exact same thing. One heard from IHG and the other heard from an IHG hotel.

Rumors? Yes.

Reasonable to believe? Also, yes.

I’ve long said that it’s the dumbest status ever. IHG has almost 5,000 properties and Royal Ambassador status works at only 183 properties. The status would be nearly 25 times more valuable, or you would have 25 times more incentive to be an RA if it worked at all their properties.

Furthermore, it is well known that the Royal Ambassador status is far behind the other programs. They don’t give benefits on awards, they don’t give breakfast, they don’t give lounge access… basically nothing valuable is guaranteed.

And because of that it’s gotten some relatively bad press.

Ben at OMAAT says here,

“For me this is the program which is becoming less and less valuable by the day. InterContinental Royal Ambassador used to be the best top tier status by far, in my opinion, though over the past couple of years has decreased in value to me, partly because the competition has caught up and partly because InterContinental has done everything they can to “standardize” benefits, which is rarely a good thing.”

Gary Leff from View From The Wing said here,

“I have been a Royal Ambassador member since 2006 but haven’t been staying with them this year… I don’t like not receiving upgrades, minibar, and early check-in benefits on award nights.”

The Points Guy says here,

“Dealbreaker- even when I was a Royal Ambassador I had to fight for basic perks, like at my last stay at the Intercontinental Rome. In my opinion, redeeming points for an award stay is not something that merits punishment.”

And he expresses that he is no longer an RA.

 

Loyalty Lobby writes a great post here on how IHG is behind and concludes,

“IHG/Priority Club really should step up to the plate and start honoring the status related benefits on award stays as well.”

 

Some very important blogs in the industry have taken back their approval for this program and they’ve got to be aware of that. Then again… Nothing would surprise me about IHG.

However, I’m optimistic that they’ll step up their game… because they’ve got to. I had a GM tell me while pointing down the road to the local Hyatt, “everyday I see long time customers go across the street because of the points.”

The internet knows it, the hotels know it. My guess is that eventually IHG will know it… that their current program kind of sucks compared to the competition.

Grant it, I still believe they have the best program in terms of earning free nights. But a lot of people who stay loyal to a 5 star chain like InterContinental want some of the finer perks. Plus, they may not know the program as well and plus all IC stays were earning 2,000 points until recently!

It’s not like me to post about rumors but IHG better have a change in the works.

Drew

4 Comments on “Rumors of IHG Ending Ambassador/RA Status

  1. In your opinion, do you think they’ll make any adjustments to the standard IHG loyalty program as a result of phasing out Ambassador/RA?

    • I mean, who knows. But… I assume they would either add another top tier to IHG’s status system or beef up their current status system. So add lounge access and breakfast and things.

  2. what would be the best loyalty program / hotel chain with a international, wide coverage and hotels in different price segments instead?

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