Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.
I sometimes find it hard to understand the loyalty strategy of the InterContinental Hotels Group, the UK plc that owns chains such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and… yes… Intercontinental. Many readers will be familiar with IHG Rewards Club, the main loyalty programme for the entire company. However the Intercontinental brand – approximately 180-200 hotels – also runs its own loyalty programme called “Ambassador“, but instead of qualifying for it through nights or stays, you simply buy it. Rumours had been circulating of some positive changes to Ambassador, and an official IHG website has now been set up that confirms some of the rumoured changes.
The current benefits of Ambassador can be useful.
The 4pm late check-out is perfect for a Sunday return from a weekend getaway. (which you might enjoy when using the free weekend night) And the guaranteed one-category upgrade makes it easy to “game the system” somewhat, by booking a room category slightly below the suite or Club room (lounge) you truly desire.
In 2019, some changes will be made to Ambassador.
The rumoured addition of one free continental breakfast appears to be limited to China. The $20 F&B credit also replaces the current drink vouchers, although perhaps it could be used to pay for breakfast on one morning of an Intercontinental stay.
Guaranteed Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club is helpful (previously Gold status was offered), although an unpublished benefit (IT glitch?) has often allowed IHG Rewards Club members to renew their existing status (including the top level of Spire) simply by purchasing or extending their Ambassador membership.
The “Ambassador Benefits Guarantee” can also be seen as a potential devaluation, since theoretically the hotel could choose to pay 10,000 points instead of providing the upgrade or late check-out. On a long stay, a room upgrade would be worth exponentially more to the guest than 10,000 points.
To sign up for Ambassador, it will cost you $200 (£160) or 40,000 IHG points. Renewal costs $150. To sign up, click here.
To read about the Ambassador “enhancements”, click here.
What do you think of these changes? Positive? Negative?