InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club Rewards members can expect a “new look” according to a recent press release. Priority Club Rewards conducted extensive global research for three years to better understand the attitudes and habits of hotel guests worldwide. The program now has more than 56 million members and more than 10,000 frequent travelers were questioned for the research. The result will be new redemption offers in 2011 among other changes.
The top trends identified by Priority Club Rewards include: 1) frequent travelers place a higher value on hotel loyalty program points than airline miles–as airlines impose more fees and decrease award inventory, the hotels have added additional redemption offers including flights; 2) business travelers value loyalty more than price–a loyalty program membership is a stronger predictor of hotel selection than price or location for guests who stay a minimum of 20 nights per year; 3) travelers across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe are equally point conscious and points ranked as the highest priority for hotel selection by frequent travelers globally, higher than special perks, privileges or benefits in the hotel; 4) during a down economy, travelers use points with their perceived utility as cash.
Some of the changes Priority Club members can expect include a new look for their membership cards, a new Priority Club Rewards logo, a new website and a newly designed member e-statement.
Bottom line: While none of Priority Club Rewards changes are earth shattering, the program is introducing some new award options that have yet to be tested in the hotel loyalty domain. Priority Club Rewards will be the first hotel loyalty program to introduce last-minute discounted awards at a 50 percent discount, points and cash merchandise awards, sweepstakes awards and downloadable media awards. The most valuable of these awards will be the last minute awards at half off. We don’t know yet how many destinations will be put on sale or what hotel brands, but we expect that members who can be flexible with their travel will be able to find some great deals with this new award option. See the “Award Watch” section of this magazine to learn more about these new award options.