Rate Priority Club Rewards

Discussion in 'IHG | Rewards Club/Ambassador' started by Lynda, Apr 18, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Lynda
    Original Member

    Lynda Milepoint Staff

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    Randy Petersen's InsideFlyer magazine is reviewing IHG Priority Club Rewards in our June issue and would like your input.

    If you would like to participate, please post your response in the thread with the pros and cons of membership in Priority Club and grade the program from A to F (A being the highest grade). You can include a plus or minus with the rating.

    You can also respond directly to the editors at InsideFlyer at lynda@insideflyer.com if you would prefer.

    Thank you.
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think without specific criteria this would be kind of messy... :)

    Personally I think Priority Club is a great rewards program. It's very easy to earn points based on promos (both stacking and frequent) and the ability to earn a few extra points (1k-5k) on your stay if you're willing to pay a little extra, albeit only on some properties.

    Redemption options are also good, as you have varying degrees of points or cash + points options available for booking rewards.

    But with that said, the overall benefits of being an elite member of the program are "questionable" at times. Earning Platinum status instead of Gold can arguably be pointless, a good deal of properties don't have a lounge or offer paltry amenities or perks for elite members, etc.
     
  3. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    +1 what viguera said
     
  4. Lynda
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    Lynda Milepoint Staff

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    Thanks for answering, viguera, regarding this...

    >>I think without specific criteria this would be kind of messy...

    I don't like to give too much information so that everyone can point out what's most important to them.

    But this is what we look at:

    Earning Ability
    Award Choices
    Partnerships
    Elite-Level Program
    Rules and Conditions
    Service Support
    Online Services
    Plus Features
    Minus Features

    Please include a "grade" for the program from A to F. Thanks!
     
  5. Mark.Dragon
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    Mark.Dragon Silver Member

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    My opinion on Priority Club:

    + Good for "starters" in the bussiness of Hotelstatus
    + Easy to get enough points for Platinstatus with few stays
    + Many Hotels in different priceclasses all over the world
    + Very much promos to get extrapoints all the time
    + Not so hard to behold the Statu even when you have sometimes not so much travelling
    + You get very fast enough points to enjoy the first "free nights" with your points

    - Platinstatus have no special benefits besides "late check out" and the possibility of a upgrade one room-category
    - no free internet or longe access even for a Platinmember
    - the rules of getting the highest tier "Royal Amassador" are not clear and seem to change every year

    So PC is good for starting with and its always a good "backup" besides having Status on other chains like SPG or HH!
    And if you have luck you can get very good Hotels for very cheap prices with the Point Breaks.. ;)

    Greetings Mark
     
  6. icurhere2
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    icurhere2 Gold Member

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    Following the criteria outlined for PriorityClub only (not InterContinental Ambassador):
    • Earning ability: I rate as an "A"
    • Award choices that are worthwhile I would rate a "C", given the recent increase in points required at some top-tier hotels and the exceptionally poor (even by hotel standards) redemption values on anything other than hotel stays.
    • The chain tries with earning/redemption partnerships, with the Hotels Anywhere program as another stay option "C".
    • Elite-level program: Not standardized. My last platinum amenity was a $2 credit in the snack bar ... About a 50% shot of getting a noticeable room upgrade but my room key is always ready. "D"
    • Rules and conditions: Middle of the road. "C"
    • Service support: If one does not call the program, I would say "D" as in "delayed"
    • Online services: Site is functional except when it won't let the user log in, which seems to be pretty common. Still better than Hilton at a "C"
    • Plus features: Point Breaks hotels keep me loyal despite weaknesses above. There are few places I have travelled (in the grand scheme) without a PriorityClub option. Credit card through Chase has nice features that more than exceed annual fee. Program often offers promotions. All points earned count toward renewing status.
    • Minus features: Elite status gives more easy-to-earn points but no other benefits on a consistent basis.
    Overall, I do rate the program as a "B". The Point Breaks hotels and credit card alone show that the program tries to engender loyalty among those who interact with the firm frequently, even if the interactions are not based upon paid stays (I used to joke that I was "PriorityClub Platinum due to home office purchases through OfficeMax").
     
  7. dc3
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    dc3 Silver Member

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    Earning Ability - A - easy to get popints
    Award Choices - B - so so
    Partnerships - A - lots
    Elite-Level Program - F at best - useless. No complimentary Internet in this day and age is unacceptable.
    Rules and Conditions - C
    Service Support - C - get to talk to people in Manila
    Online Services - C - average web site
    Plus Features - B easy to get points
    Minus Features-F - awful elite program perks
     
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  8. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Grade: C+

    Pros:
    Good points earning promotions.
    Intercontinental Royal Ambassador is an uber-generous elite level (8am checkin, free minibar)

    Cons:
    Recently increased redemption prices.
    Confusing program between Ambassador and Priority Club status
    Doesn't honor most elite benefits on award stays under program T&C
    No option to spend more points for a better than base room on award nights
    Elite status doesn't include suite upgrades or breakfast
     
  9. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Earning Ability A
    Award Choices B -Points and cash is awesome, would like to see a few more point break properties
    Partnerships A
    Elite-Level Program D - Weakest part of the program
    Rules and Conditions C
    Service Support B
    Online Services C

    Plus Features: Points never expire!, Pointbreaks (need more of them), Points and cash!

    Minus Features: Elite benefits / program. Gold status is a dark joke.
     
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  10. man on the move.

    man on the move. Silver Member

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    What he said, but rate it as a B.

    The basis being that most programs have downgraded the benefits overtime, and IHG has just kept pace with the rest. Being a RA, and staying in ICs most of the time, it is a great program for me. Lots / Mega (10^6) amounts of points that have real value for stays while on vacation. Try 2 weeks in Asia for free...

    However, not as good as it used to be, but in a similar fashion to my Hilton and Marriott programs the whole thing is not as good as it used to be. I think the hotels don't see as much value in loyalty programs as they once thought. People change hotels brands for price and location - loyalty programs are not as a big of contributors as once believed. (Unless you get the free suite upgrade, mini bar, early check in, late check out, free internet, free breakfast, etc. that the IC RA gives at many properties, and that tends to change the game for me...)
     
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  11. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Earning Ability: A as it is very easy to get points
    Award Choices: B- so so
    Elite-Level Program - Fail if plat - useless. B if on paid stay as RA, Fail if RA on award stay.

    I found Royal Ambassador to be a waste of my time & travel dollar. The fact that IHG's T&Cs state that besides the 4pm checkout benefit, IHG doesn't have to honor any other perks on an award stay is an epic fail of the program !!

    As a longtime Platinum, perks as a Plat are also an epic fail. The only thing good about being Plat with IHG is the extra points earned on stays and the periodic complimentary bottle of water &/or bag of snacks.

    In it's current state, IHG will never be my primary loyalty program, it has always enjoyed being 2nd or 3rd tier with me as I do like using points for unexepected stays here & there, but that is about it.

    so overall my grade for the program is C-
     
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  12. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    Overall for me, a B-.

    The program is pretty good for people who want some status at a chain that has scores of properties around the world and for those who travel to small towns and places that don't carry some of the other chains. The elite benefits are sometimes great and sometimes crummy. It would be nice for benefits to be more standardized from one property to the next and more in line with what the competition offers.


    +I do like that points are easy to earn and redeem and don't expire.
    + Point Breaks!
    +For me getting and keeping elite status easily is nice.
    +There are lots of properties to choose from and many in cities which don't have other good options.
    +RA benefits are great.

    +/-Variety of partners is good, but Amex MR going away is a negative.
    +/-Booking online is easy and great when it works, but about half the time I get on the site I get the dreaded broken screen.
    +/- I've had service go both ways.

    -My biggest dislike is the policy of partially or not honoring elite benefits on award stays. Why should I choose to frequent your properties if when I go on vacation with my family (a time when I'd love to have perks) I could get treated like an ordinary Joe off the street? Some properties do honor some benefits on award stays while others do not, and I hate taking that gamble. I'd spend up to get Ambassador status, but not if it doesn't count for award stays. There's no real point in seeking aspirational awards with IHG.
    -Not excited about the award redemption cost increases.
    -Benefits for top tier aren't as good as other chains and too varied from property to property unless you are an RA, which has no clearly defined way to earn.
     
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  13. DJP_707
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    DJP_707 Silver Member

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    +1 what viguera said

    And they need to honor benefits on reward stays.
     
  14. adl73x
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    adl73x Gold Member

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    Overall rating: B+

    PriorityClub earns an A for the earning ability - all points earned by any and all means count, and the promotional points are plentiful. Those points can have outstanding value for redemption, particularly with 5000-point Point Breaks.

    I have status in a several hotel programs, but PriorityClub is the one I make sure I requalify for every year. The points I earn through stays are mostly at Holiday Inn Express properties which offer no particular benefits to elites, but I like to redeem at Crowne Plaza sites which, in the UK, are far superior to HIX.

    I give a firm C for the schizoid way the Intercontinental Hotels Group runs a separate elite system for its Intercontinental Hotels brand that is paid at one level, and by invitation only at the next, and which confers no benefits at all to guests with Priority Club status. To be fair - that is better than Accor's LeClub which only gives elite benefits on stays at it's top brand.

    PriorityClub telephone service is woeful. Best to hope you don't have to call. And if you've found a promo code for which you weren't personally invited, best for everyone else if you don't call.

    I like the credit card points earning opportunities with PriorityClub. In the UK the card is issued by BarclayCard whose customer service makes PriorityClub's look good. But the points are nice when you get them.
     
  15. ZCT

    ZCT Silver Member

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    I have used Priority Club as my main go to for the last couple of years, and have been Platinum for most of it, staying 140+ nights a year in their hotels (mainly Holiday Inn and Express).

    Earning Ability - A

    They always have deals. Double points, points for specific hotels, or ordering specific packages, promos etc. In fact if anything it's a little too easy to earn elite status. Which does make it good for beginners, but takes some of the luster out of being elite.

    At the end of last year they had a promotion so good it pretty much earned me Platinum Elite for a whole extra year just because of all the bonus points that hit in January.

    So yeah, if you keep an eye out for promotions and remember to sign up for them you can earn like crazy. And once you get elite, you are going to be making bonus points as well on every stay.

    Award Choices - A

    Like all the programs you can buy free hotel nights with your points, which seem reasonably priced. They also have an 'experiences' concept where you can buy things like flying lessons, hot air balloon rides, race car driving, Harley rental, and various other adventures. They have an ability to order airline tickets too. So you can essentially get a hotel, an experience and an airline ticket there all for points. Pretty cool.

    What I also like is the fact that you can obtain gift cards too. For example Amazon.com, which just about sells everything these days. I'm going to buy an Apple computer this summer and it won't cost me a dime. I also scored some Bose noise cancelling headphones and a Yamaha surround sound system.

    When you take into account the gift card options, the program has very few limits to what you can use it for. Of course, the bias in the program is towards free nights. 40,000 points could buy you a night in a hotel in NYC or Vegas that might have cost $400 for the night. However, a $200 Amazon.com or Best Buy gift card will probably cost 35,000 or more points. But this is to be expected when comparing third party offerings to what they can offer you from their own resources.

    Partnerships - A

    They have plenty, both in terms of earning extra points from making purchases and in terms of what you can buy once you have the points. They even have a dining program that automatically earns you points for eating at participating restaurants. Rather a nice touch if you eat out on business trips a lot.

    Elite-Level Program - B

    I think the issue I would have is that Platinum is a bit too easy to earn, and this in turn waters down some of the benefits you are likely to get out of it. If 30 Platinum guests show up at a hotel one day, they are not all going to get upgrades.

    Rules and Conditions - A

    The points don't expire, there are no blackout dates. I don't really see any negative rules that make me mad.

    Service Support - A

    On the rare occasion I've needed to call in, the staff have been polite, helpful and competent.

    Online Services - B

    I've had a few issues with their web site on occasion, but it's recently be revamped and is currently very clean and easy to use.

    Plus Features

    - The program is simple.
    - Easy to use / understand.
    - The rewards seem pretty generous and there is something for everyone.
    - No blackout dates or expiring coupons like some programs.
    - I frequently get upgraded to nicer rooms, executive floors or suites.
    - The program is comprehensive and good by most measures.

    Minus Features

    - With so many promotions and ways to get extra points it is surprisingly easy to attain Platinum and keep it, which in turn dilutes the status of it and reduces the benefits you might get on any given stay.
    - I would argue that Marriott and Hilton may have a wider range of higher end hotels should you wish to use your points for travel or staying at a hotel that they normally wouldn't be willing to pay for.
    - In the past they had some really stupid bugs on their web site that used to irritate, like being asked multiple times to login, however the last refresh of the site seems to have addressed these.
     
  16. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Earning Ability
    I'd call this an B : base earning is not that great, and the practice of relying on signing up for random targeted promotions is possibly drying up. In some ways I think the program is living on reputation here, especially as the award chart gets more expensive.


    Award Choices
    Point breaks, cash and points are good options and nice to have. Lots of low-tier hotel options. Weak at the upper end - Intercontinentals or bust. Say B-

    Partnerships
    C: nothing of note stands out

    Elite-Level Program
    D-: Priority Club Platinum has exceptionally weak published benefits.
    A: Royal Ambassador is very generous, provided you are staying at Intercontinentals and paying with money rather than points. However, switch over to points and you're at the mercy of the hotel.

    For my purposes D overall. Platinum is trivial to get and gives almost nothing. RA is very generous, but only on paid stays and there is no defined bar to hit for membership. If I was a true HVC able to stay many paid nights per year at Intercontinentals this rating would be much higher.

    Rules and Conditions
    C-: The Priority Club/Ambassador program split is confusing and annoying, and reserves worthwhile benefits to paid stays at the top hotels - often the ones I would otherwise want to spend points on when travelling for leisure. The benefits are weakest when you want them most.

    Service Support
    No opinion

    Online Services
    C: The website can be a bit glitchy and touchy. Nothing amazing

    Plus Features
    Hotels everywhere. Along with Hilton and Marriott one of the big three in this regard with decent high-end redemption options.
    RA is great if it works for you.
    Earning is good if you screw around finding all of the promotions you can register for
    Points easy to acquire

    Minus Features
    Elite status is just about worthless, other than the Ambassador program on paid Intercon stays.
    Selection of desirable redemption hotels is limited
    Redemption rates increasing at those desirable locations
    Lack of official benefits of award stays
    Confusing schism between Intercontinental and the rest
    Meaningful status has no defined threshold to hit and only applies some of the time

    Overall, C-

    Beyond the vast numbers of properties in out of the way places, there is not anything that makes me want to participate in the program. IHG is a chain of last resort that I avoid when possible due to the overall weakness of the program.
     

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