IHG announces Royal Ambassador benefits for 2019

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In mid-December IHG Rewards announced an update to the benefits of the Ambassador program. Now, they have provided some detail of the benefits that will apply to members at the Royal Ambassador level.

As with the Ambassador updates, it is largely just tweaking the program. Having said that, some people may find themselves in a worse position. On the other hand, some may find themselves better off.

What is Royal Ambassador status?

The Ambassador program allows you to purchase a package of benefits, but only for Intercontinental Hotels. It operates with IHG’s loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club, which provided the points earning and burning program. As it is specific to Intercontinental Hotels, it does not offer any benefits at other brands.

Even better, if you are a frequent visitor to Intercontinental hotels, you could be in line for Royal Ambassador status. At present, this appears to be offered if you have $10,000 USD of eligible spend at Intercontinental Hotels in a calendar year. Quite a spend, but it does bring some nice perks.

Changes in 2019

IHG have announced that there will be changes to the benefits of the Royal Ambassador program from February. As with the Ambassador announcement, IHG have provided details of what is staying , and what the new benefits are.

More of what you love

IHG lists the following as ‘more of what you love’:

  • Guaranteed two category room upgrade
  • Complimentary Club InterContinental Lounge access
  • Extended 4pm check-out and early check-in
  • Minibar privileges
  • Spire Elite status in IHG® Rewards Club
  • 24-hour room guarantee
  • Choice of a sweet or savoury snack, or fruit
  • Complimentary weekend night
  • Dedicated check-in area
  • Complimentary Internet

While largely the same, there is a significant change buried in the detail. In particular, while the Minibar privilege remains, it is becoming more restricted. We will look into this change further in the next section.

New Benefits

The new benefits that IHG have published are as follows:

  • Free night at an IHG® property
  • Two complimentary breakfasts per night at properties without a Club InterContinental lounge
  • Waived destination/amenity fees
  • Early check-in, beginning at 10am
  • Up to USD50 minibar credit for each night you stay
  • E-delivery of complimentary weekend night certificate
  • Ambassador Benefits Guarantee to ensure you make the most out of every stay
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® President’s Circle® membership

IHG Rewards will be providing access to an additional free night for Royal Ambassador members. This will be implemented as a Rewards Night, so one will need to be available for you to redeem. You will also be limited rooms where the reward rate is 70,000 points or less. At present, this includes most Reward Nights, although it may not do so in the future.

The addition of breakfasts where there is no club lounge is a welcome enhancement, as not all Intercontinental Hotels have a lounge.

The Minibar credit is a change to the minibar benefit, and effectively caps the benefit to US$50 per day. There is also a maximum of US$200 per stay to be applied. This is a change from the current situation, where no particular restriction is mentioned.

As with Ambassador, it appears there are a couple of losses. Firstly the complimentary in room movie has gone, and secondly, the offer of double occupancy for the price of a single occupancy.

The main downside to these changes appears to be the reduction in the Minibar offer. Depending on what you consume from the Minibar, this may or may not be a big deal. For some, it may be significant.

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About Author

Mark is the founder of FlyStayPoints, and caught the travel bug early in life. He discovered the benefits of travel loyalty programs in 2001, and is always learning how they can make travel better. While work takes him between Perth and Melbourne, he is always plotting his next adventure.