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IHG released a statement this morning stating that via a new partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith, it would “more than double the number of luxury and boutique hotels available to IHG® Rewards Club loyalty members “
You can read the full statement below:
“IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, and Mr & Mrs Smith, the world-renowned travel club and boutique hotel specialists, are proud to announce their exclusive loyalty partnership.
From early next year, IHG® Rewards Club members will be able to earn and redeem points at over 500 handpicked Mr & Mrs Smith hotels in new and iconic locations, when booking through IHG’s direct channels (including IHG.com and IHG mobile app).
This exclusive partnership will more than double the number of luxury and boutique hotels which members can choose from; complementing IHG’s luxury and boutique portfolio of hotels and resorts across Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Regent® Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants and Hotel Indigo®.
IHG Rewards Club members will be able to earn and redeem points across hundreds of luxury and boutique hotels around the world, including some of Smith’s most seductive stays, such as Jasper Conran’s self-styled riad hideaway L’Hôtel Marrakech, 18th-century organic Tuscan estate Borgo Pignano, high-in-the-Himalayas retreat The Kumaon and the charming Old Rectory on South Africa’s famed Garden Route. IHG’s most loyal members can expect free room upgrades whenever available and a free gift, called a Smith Extra, on arrival at each Mr & Mrs Smith hotel.
Claire Bennett, Chief Marketing Officer, IHG, commented: “IHG’s exclusive partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith illustrates the truly transformative travel we bring to our IHG Rewards Club members. This loyalty partnership will allow our most loyal guests to discover even more of the world with the most incredible and inspiring luxury rewards.
“By bringing this spectacular collection of award-winning hotels to our direct booking channels, this partnership means members can earn and redeem points in some of the world’s most sought-after destinations – the perfect complement to IHG’s growing luxury and boutique hotel portfolio, which includes InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.”
Founded in 2003, Mr & Mrs Smith is a “Travel Club for Hotel Lovers,” offering a carefully curated collection of over 1,200 boutique and luxury properties in over 80 countries. Mr & Mrs Smith’s high-tech, high-touch approach to business enables deep relationships with its boutique hotel partners and onward distribution of its inventory to more travel-savvy guests.
Tamara Lohan MBE, COO & co-founder, Mr & Mrs Smith, commented: “We conceived Mr & Mrs Smith for discerning travellers who want to discover truly extraordinary places with the people they love. We are hugely excited about the opportunity to bring our growing collection of carefully curated boutique and luxury hotels to millions of IHG Rewards Club loyalty members, so they may join our members in experiencing some of the world’s most seductive hotels.”
Demonstrating the promise to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for guests and loyalty members, IHG’s loyalty partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith builds on IHG’s expanding luxury portfolio with the recent acquisitions of Regent Hotels & Resorts and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.
Key highlights of the partnership include:
- From early 2020, IHG Rewards Club members will have the opportunity to earn and redeem points during qualified stays at over 500 luxury and boutique Mr & Mrs Smith properties.
- IHG Rewards Club points can be earned and redeemed at participating Mr & Mrs Smith hotels booked through IHG’s direct channels only.
- The partnership gives IHG’s members more choice in where to go, with the addition of Mr & Mrs Smith properties in 14 countries where IHG doesn’t currently have open hotels.
- IHG’s most loyal guests, including InterContinental Ambassadors and Kimpton Inner Circle members, will enjoy a free Smith Extra such as a bottle of champagne, picnic hamper or 30-minute massage on arrival at every Mr & Mrs Smith hotel, as well as automatic room upgrades whenever available.
- Elite IHG Rewards Club members will receive their tier Bonus Points on eligible room rates (10% Gold Elite, 50% Platinum Elite, 100% Spire Elite). “
More choice is almost always a good thing when it comes to earning or redeeming points. There is no doubt that this deal will bring some superb new options to the attention of IHG members, and the elite benefits sound decent.
I’m quite sceptical about how the partnership will actually work in practice though. Mr & Mrs Smith is a essentially a booking club – they don’t own any of the hotels. Instead, they market boutique hotels and luxury brands – many of which will presumably have their own clear views on how enthusiastic they are about this new partnership. Only ~500 of the ~1,200 hotels Mr & Mrs Smith work with are due to participate.
I think there are two main concerns:
- Booking via IHG will earn Rewards Club members points and allow them to access elite benefits. But, I imagine there will be a price for that. Booking direct with the hotel or through some other booking portal (eg. Amex FHR, Virtuoso, etc) is likely to be cheaper, or offer better benefits for the same price.
- Being able to redeem IHG Points for stays at 500 great new properties sounds brilliant. Unless you happen to have access to unlimited amounts of points though, the redemption rates are very important and we haven’t got any information on that yet. My expectation is this will essentially be dynamic pricing – where each IHG Point gets you x amount off the prevailing cash rate for that particular date. I doubt the given redemption value will be generous.
My broader concern is that if this does lead to the introduction of some form of dynamic pricing, will we then see that system applied to ‘standard’ IHG redemptions too? It might not happen immediately, but the current trend in the hotel industry is definitely heading that way – just look at Hilton Honors and how Marriott Bonvoy’s new peak/off peak pricing works.
When I first saw the press release, my initial reaction was that this was a very interesting and potentially fantastic partnership. Having thought about it a bit more though – particularly about the path it might lead IHG down in terms of dynamic pricing – I’m less convinced this is an innovation members should be celebrating.
What do you think?