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IHG (the hotel group that owns well-known brands Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental etc), announced a new Ultimate Summer Sale this week and offered “exclusive advance booking” to members of their Rewards Club loyalty programme, via the IHG app. The sale is for hotels in Europe and bookings can be made for dates between 17th June – 7th September.
IHG claims this is “our way of saying thank you to IHG Rewards Club members”, but unfortunately the sale is rubbish and you can get substantially better rates by ignoring it.
I’m not sure what that says about how much IHG really value their members… What I do know though, is how to make real savings when booking IHG hotels.
The first thing to explain is why the new ‘sale’ is bad. “Rooms from £39.00” certainly doesn’t sound terrible, and IHG have had some very generous sales in the past, so I was quite interested to begin with.
The problem is that the sale rates are only marginally lower than standard rates, and because you can only access them through the IHG app, it isn’t possible to go through a cashback portal like Quidco, which is currently offering 8% back (If you do not already have a Quico account, please sign up using my link here as it’s free and I get a small referral fee – thanks!).
Let’s look at a couple of examples from London on Friday 15th July:
The Holiday Inn Mayfair can be booked for £203.40 on the IHG website or £193.00 on the app – a saving of about 5%. Book directly on the website instead after clicking through from Quidco and you’d get 8% back, so the total cost would end up £187.13, saving an additional £6.00.
The Crowne Plaza London City (an excellent hotel by the way!) is £187.20 on the website and £177.00 on the app – a saving of slightly over 5%. Book on the website though, after clicking through from Quidco, and the total cost would end up being about £172.22 – saving an extra £5.00ish.
I’ve looked at quite a lot of different cities throughout Europe and different dates and the broad pattern is the same, with booking through the app only being about 5% cheaper than the website. Quidco offers 8% on all website bookings at the moment.
Saving an extra few percent is all well and good, but this is InsideFlyerUK – we can do better!
Use the MasterCard Partner Booking Page instead to save even more. There are no date restrictions apart from that the reservation must be made at least 21 days before a stay. There is no need to pay with a MasterCard. The rate is available to everyone but I would still print out and fill in the Voucher (put MasterCard as the company), because although the vast majority of hotels do not ask for it, I have encountered one or two that do.
The MasterCard rate claims to save 30%, but that is derived from the best flexible rate and MasterCard rate bookings are actually nonrefundable – so the real savings are less than advertised, but still substantial.
I’ll use the same examples as before:
The Holiday Inn Mayfair on Friday 15th July is £180.80, rather than the full price of £203.40 or £193.00 using the app ‘sale’.
The Crowne Plaza London City is £166.40 rather than the full price of £187.20 or £177.00 using the app ‘sale’.
Being able to get cashback on IHG bookings is quite new, so I haven’t had chance yet to test whether it’s possible to book through the MasterCard booking page and still get the cashback. IHG’s IT isn’t hugely sophisticated, so my instinct is that it should be possible, but that’s just a guess for the time being.
Even if you can’t get cashback on top though, using the MasterCard booking page is consistently the best value way to book IHG hotels in Europe.
Note that you need to select the 20% discount rate rather than the 30% to get Intercontinental hotels to show when you search and that the Intercontinental rate includes breakfast, but the 30% rate for all the other brands doesn’t.
Remember that IHG’s current promotion ‘Accelerate’ finishes at the end of April too!