A few times per year, IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty program for the Intercontinental Group, offers a “task-based” promotion. Once again, this year’s, which runs from September 6th to December 15th, is called Accelerate. You get a list of offers and, based on which offers you complete, you’ll earn bonus points. Do enough of the offers and you’ll get an additional Achievement bonus.
I’ve always found the term “loyalty programs” to be a bit of a misnomer. Sure, you get elite status and future benefits for previous stays, but companies didn’t create these programs to reward past behavior. They did so to influence future business. Accelerate is a perfect example of how hotels do so.
Each set of goals is individualized to the customer. The pattern is pretty simple: If you are an infrequent IHG guest, you will likely get a relatively easy promotion, possibly for a bonus at the lower end of the range. The company knows that it is useless to give a once-per-year customer a 50-night requirement. But if they can get that customer to make a couple of extra stays during the promotion period, they’ve significantly increased profits by using low-cost points.
On the other hand, if you are one of the most loyal customers, IHG already has most of your nights. Giving you easy bonus points would be counterproductive, since they likely won’t influence your decisions. You would have stayed with IHG, anyway. Thus, the promotions for their most frequent guests are usually the most difficult to complete, although the bonuses can be high.
Maximizing The Accelerate Promotion
The name of the game is to earn as many points as possible with the minimum amount of spending. For example, my offer is as follows:
Stay Once Get 3,000 Thank you for being a loyal IHG® Rewards Club member. Stay once and earn 3,000 bonus points.
Stay More, Earn More Get closer to the rewards you want when you stay 5 night(s) and earn 10,000 bonus points.
Discover Our Brands Stay at 3 brands and get 20,800 bonus points.
Authentic experiences Live the InterContinental® life when you stay at 2 InterContinental® hotel(s) and earn 16,000 bonus points.
Spend on your IHG® Rewards Club Credit Card Book and pay for one stay with your IHG® Rewards Club Credit Card and earn bonus points.
Become an Ambassador Member Earn 5,000 bonus points when you join our Ambassador programme.
Your Achievement Bonus Complete 5 of the 6 offers and earn (an additional) 23,000 bonus points.
September Bonus Offer Stay once in September and get 5,000 bonus points.
I’m not a frequent IHG customer, but this is a more difficult promotion than I usually get for Accelerate (or its brethren). Normally, I can knock out my requirements in one or two nights. Maybe they finally caught on, but this one is going to take me at least four nights and, most likely, five. One night is easy. Nights at two different InterContinentals is doable, but expensive. Staying at three different brands (IHG Group owns, among others, Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.) is easy enough, but time-consuming.
The best way to maximize my points would be to complete the first five bullet points above. It requires an one more night than if I skipped the two Intercontinental nights, but saves me 11,000 points plus the cost of the Ambassador membership. But it’s probably not worth doing at all. This offer is likely not going to get me enough value to trade out nights from a different hotel company. For you, it may be different, so be sure to check out your version through the link above.
Oh, One Other Thing…
IHG promotions, particularly Accelerate (and the Accelerate look alikes), are well-known for being rife with errors and complex terms and conditions. For example, you may get a requirement that says “Complete any three of the four above,” only to discover that there are actually five offers. Sometimes, the link just doesn’t work. Occasionally, the T&C don’t explain exactly what you need to do. IHG’s customers service, or lack thereof, doesn’t help. Its representatives often don’t know any more than you do.
The bottom line is to be sure to follow the terms and conditions and, when in doubt, complete as many offers as you can.