IHG Ambassador Renewal

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Ahmad 2 Oct 2019
at 19:55
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  • Traveller73
    Participant

    My renewal of my IHG Ambassador Status is due and, for the first time in around 10 years, I am considering not renewing it:  This is primarily due to programme changes resulting in higher charge and a general sense of being underwhelmed and increasingly disappointed when I walk into an intercontinental hotel room. Who knew a bowl of fruit with your name on it brought so much joy?

    So, before I decide to part with 40,000 points I thought I would reflect on some of the many perks and gifts accrued from my Ambassador membership, so in no particular order:

    The Barclay NYC.
    Always Upgraded to 1 bed suite
    Chocolates on arrival
    Courtesy email from front desk with whom I stayed in touch with and always gave us superb treatment on subsequent stays. Cakes and wine on birthday stays.

    IC San Francisco
    Suite upgrade. Cookery book. Bottle of wine on arrival and a huge cheese plate. Another bottle and cheese plate arrived a few days later.

    IC Miami
    Duplex suite upgrade. Birthday cake on arrival with wine.
    Ambassador membership got you access to the Gym.

    IC Dubai
    One bed suite upgraded to two bed suite. One of the best club rooms in the world?
    Free coffee cup as gift.

    IC Rome
    Hmmm…. not the best of intercons but our tiny upgraded room featured a balcony that was even useable and delightful in November. no gift that I can recall.

    Intercontinental Vienna
    First time I walked into a hotel room thinking is this the upgrade? Still a nice stay. Don’t recall the welcome gift but I recall Mozart Kugeln being left in the room daily.

    Intercontinental Tokyo.
    Early check in. Upgrade to suite, welcome gift of Japanese Daruma wishing doll. Pretty cool. I’ve painted in one eye but wish yet to come true…

    Intercontinental Osaka
    Gift of tea and cookies. Superb hotel.

    Intercontinental Paris
    A good use of the Free night AMB weekend voucher as it is so ridiculously expensive…. at around 600 euro a night for a club room this did present a great saving on a free night voucher but even with the excellent food in the club room, the room rate is astronomical and I have found my room size decreasing over the years. Still I have a collection of Cafe de La Paix key rings given out as the welcome gift on each stay.

    Intercontinental Shanghai
    Delicious Cookies and bar credit as welcome amenity. A superior room upgrade that was well worth the rate and one night spent there.

    Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun
    Excellent junior suite upgrade.
    Amenity kit with product as welcome gift. Slightly odd but useful! Delicious mini bakes on arrival in the room.

    Intercontinental Koh Samui
    Suite upgrade and cuddly toy on arrival

    Intercontinental Bangkok
    Best upgrade ever. Junior suite to Royal suite. One of those rooms that occupies over half the floor complete with a board room……Cuddly toy welcome gift.

    Intercontinental Düsseldorf
    App showed upgrade to suite but hotel not able to provide on arrival. Less than ideal stay but a smart hotel I would return to.

    Intercontinental Istanbul
    Tin of sweets on arrival. Upgrade from standard club room to one bedroom suite. Daily baklava in the room.

    Intercontinental Dublin
    Good room upgrades.
    Cookies or chocolate in room on arrival.

    Intercontinental Amsterdam
    Upgrade from city view suite to partial canal view suite….
    Liquorice sweets on arrival and an intercontinental branded plastic garment carrier – useful.

    Intercontinental Athens
    Bottle of good Greek red wine.

    Intercontinental Berlin
    Welcome gift of €15 credit for spend in the bar or restaurant. Decent room upgrade from the standard to a large deluxe. Chocolates.

    Intercontinental Bordeaux
    Welcome gift of canele and other baked treats.
    Upgrade to larger room overlooking the opera house. Stunning hotel.

    Intercontinental Mumbai
    Room upgrade to huge corner room
    Chocolates on arrival.

    Edinburgh
    Upgrade to Forth view room.
    £15 f&b credit and a bar of G&B chocolate.

    So.. at least 4 bottles of wine, 2 cuddly toys, a handful of souvenirs and various sweet treats along the way, Plenty of plates of fruit, bottles water and a range of room upgrades, around 62 hours of early check in or late check out for a total spend of around $350/175,000 points to renew over 10 years… not forgetting 9 free night certificates (didn’t use it one year!) at an average of £300 value… that’s £2,700.

    And yet somehow the changes to the programme have me thinking it’s no longer worth it?

    Thoughts?


    capetonianm
    Participant

    I think you need to compare the value to you (not necessarily the commercial value) of what you have received versus the actual value of the points in money. I suppose that is possible to calculate.

    If, for example, you don’t eat sweets/chocolate/baklava and you don’t need yet another branded garment carrier, key ring, or cuddly toy (!) then the value of those to you is nil.

    Reading your posting, it seems to me that just the room upgrades are worth a lot, but then again if you would have been happy with a normal room and it’s just a place to sleep for 8 hours, then that has no value either.

    I am at the stage in my life where I no longer stay in ‘business’ type hotels but even when I did, I rarely bothered to enrol in the schemes which meant carrying yet another piece of plastic which I would never have with me when I needed it. But that’s just me!


    JohnnyG
    Participant

    Like what Capetonianm states, it depends on what you value or need the most. For quite a few years I worked for a multi-national communications company and always stayed in quality hotels with lounges, pool, sauna, steam etc. After a while I realised that I wasn’t using those facilities and just needed a decent room with a desk. I negotiated a nightly allowance which allowed me the flexibility to book any hotel of any grade I wanted and eat anywhere I wanted. Many times the flexibility of wandering around an area eating where the locals ate etc was far more valuable to me. Hotel and airline loyalty meant little to me and still does.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    I have lifetime Plat with Marriott and I find the benefits extend well beyond the room I am allocated. Indeed, in my most regularly visited hotel, I am one of their only guests who turns down a suite upgrade, instead favouring a standard room opposite the exec lounge.

    My value of top tier membership is the access it gives me to those occasional special requests. examples & not just limited to one regular hotel:

    * bespoke roof top dining (yes to impress) in private closed off areas of hotels
    * special menus created at short notice
    * recognition by hotel staff (yes, i like it)
    * business facilities always available, including meeting rooms, secretarial, translation and refreshments all complimentary
    * tailored pricing
    * complimentary airport transfers
    * complimentary dry cleaning and laundry
    * complimentary services such as alterations, shoe shine and sewing buttons back on shirts
    * GM cocktail parties and occasional meals
    * generally I gain enough points per year for a 5-6 day stay at a decent beach resort in Europe (flights comped by avios)

    Of course my status has ‘privileged’ me upgrades – the most memorable being the Presidential suite at the Westin in Milan. That night I changed dinner reservations for my group of 8 to silver service in the suite’s dining room which came with a grand piano and yes a piano player was found as well. Hotel may have comped the room, but they got value out of the upgrade 🙂

    So for me, I appreciate my Marriott status, but the benefits / value for me go well beyond the upgrades and room freebies.

    The more interesting question would be, what would it take, for me to change brand loyalty….


    Tomm
    Participant

    I have been a Royal AMBASSADOR for many years as well,last year was downgraded to Ambassador and am thinking to quit it altogether.

    The New rules makes no sense any more; Your main Focus of being a member ;an UPG is so seldom offered these days.

    I DUS IC,they did not Place any amenities 2x,nor UPG
    In Paris Ic no Upg

    and the weekend socalled free certificate you are paying a Premium rate and thus 50% of the socalled free nigth

    So no recognition/no Upg/No amenties why be loyal?

    (yeasterday i was about to book 7xnigths at IC danang mid october at 70.000 Points a nigth/had a question to the Booking Department ,they anserwed this morning BUT the rest of the month no more point nigths avaiable ,strange is it not?)


    Traveller73
    Participant

    Thanks all for the replies.

    I agree the point re the weekend night and the High rates. It seems by ‘upgrading’ the Ambassador product, IHG have effectively made it much less attractive.

    Re other points made, my Intercon stays are generally leisure so a good room upgrade is of value. There is also value to me in upgrades at other brands, holiday inn, Crowne plaza which I would use for work.

    Anyway, I have renewed. 40,000 points but got 5,000 back as part of the Accelerate promotion. I’ll use the weekend night somewhere, Porto or Ljubljana look good. Who knows maybe I’ll get another cuddly toy..


    STORMIN'
    Participant

    I too have been a long term IHG customer with many years as an Ambassador Spire member and going back to the days of the Six Continents Club with the red dot sticker on the briefcase!! I concur with all the comments above; there is no longer anything particularly special about staying at Intercons – what really peeves me is still having to pay over and above for lounge access. Also, quite apart from the “free” weekend voucher which from my experience is of questionable value, IHG has become like BA – it is often impossible to use points to pay for accommodation.

    By contrast, as a Hilton Hhonors Diamond Card holder for many years also, I have always been given room upgrades, often from the basic room which I normally book, to palatial apartments and, of course, there is automatic access to lounges. In addition, I have never ever experienced any difficulty in using points for accommodation. And all of this for no fee – just customer loyalty to the brand.

    IHG needs to get real – I shan’t be renewing next time around.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Vince
    Participant

    Thank you for you notes & insight, the replies to which are also insightful.
    In my case the perks are ok but no better than other hotel groups. Personally, I’ve been woefully treated by IH and had I not just renewed my Ambassador I simply wouldn’t. The latest poor treatment occurred on my 50th birthday at IH Budapest using a UK Free Luxury night voucher. They refused an upgrade request (I know they don’t have to upgrade on redemptions) and told me I couldn’t buy Club lounge access! The service from check in staff the bar staff was poor. Breakfast staff were shocking, although the food was excellent. The worst was the weekend hotel manager who quite simply was atrocious.
    I cancelled the second & third night (booked using points) and stayed at a much cheaper hotel with brilliant service albeit missing the amazing view.
    Previous treatment at IH Times Square was even worse! Other IH’s have been fine and
    I fully recommend IH Ljubljana (even with its drainage issues). I’ve been transferring recent stays to Marriott & Hilton and intend not to renew Ambassador again.


    antipodes
    Participant

    I don’t have any complaints about my benefits as an IHG Ambassador on the odd occasion that I did not get an upgrade my bill was adjusted to reflect an upgrade to my current room booking.

    I am interested in traveller 73 experience in Rome.Was this a recent stay?


    Traveller73
    Participant

    Hi there.

    Rome was a good few years back and is now closed for much needed refurbishment I believe. It was at the top of the Spanish steps. May have opened as something else now? I can recommend the Indigo St George which is in a lovely part of town.


    Ahmad
    Participant

    I don’t have any complaints about my benefits as an IHG Ambassador on the odd occasion that I did not get an upgrade my bill was adjusted to reflect an upgrade to my current room booking.

    I am interested in traveller 73 experience in Rome.Was this a recent stay?

    Sorry but I didn’t understand the bit about the bill being adjusted to reflect an upgrade to your current room booking when you didn’t actually get the upgrade.

    I gave up on InterCon several years ago. It used to be excellent when it was called Six Continents Club. Then it started to decline rapidly and is now only useful for getting upgraded to a larger room if the actual hotel one is staying at still has the guaranteed upgrade policy from the SCC days.

    An anecdote from those years if someone is interested:

    They used to offer a limousine arrival service at very competitive rates only for SCC members. This included porter service at many airports even for international flights and in room check in which was very convenient. I can never forget Phnom Penh when the limousine turned out to be a real one! It was an old style Mercedes 600 with five seats in the back and a glass divider between the passenger and driver cabins, for which I paid a princely sum of USD 30.

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