Best Business Hotel Loyalty Program for Vacation Destinations 2016-2017
Best Business Hotel Loyalty Program for Vacation Destinations:
IHG Rewards Club
IHG Rewards Club is the pick here primarily because they’re willing to open up their high end hotels and destinations to the business travellers who typically grind out their points between major US cities.
Unlike programs such as Marriott Rewards that try to establish a mystique about their luxury brands and resorts by excluding them from free night promotions and elite member discounts, IHG will willingly dangle that Intercontinental Bora Bora carrot before its core business clients.
The only drawback is those Bora Bora and the like carrots aren’t offered as standard, and when they do pop up you have to be willing to travel within a few months in order to get your time in the sun.
IHG’s luxury vacation destinations – and this chain covers 11 brands and more than 4,500 properties, which may surprise you a little – are best accessed through the IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks system.
And, just quietly, it’s one of the best hotel redemption offerings you’ll come across.
You can access free nights for as little as 5000 points, and in return you have to put up with a rotating cast of offerings, and you have to book your stay within a few months of release.
But the list includes some nice choices. In August this year you could have stayed in Paris, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, London, and dozens of US destinations. And you could have enjoyed some downtime at the luxury Intercontinental hotels in Argentina and Cambodia.
Making the PointBreaks offer even more inviting is the fact you can buy points toward one of these discount stays for around 0.6 to 0.75 cents per point. That’s potentially a night in a luxury Intercontinental resort for around $40.
Now, we understand the random nature of the program and the fact you have to be ready to relax within weeks means this isn’t ideal for everybody, and there some odd quirks to the program, such as the fact you can’t use your points to redeem nights at the nominated hotels at all during the discount season after the special rates have been snapped up.
But you just have to consider the PointBreaks promotions as a nice added feature of IHG membership, rather than the core of the loyalty program.
And that program is a solid offering.
You can convert your points to air miles among 40 partnered airlines. There are no blackout dates for redeeming free stays, at least not at the standard room level, and these stays do count as credit for your elite status account.
As an interesting aside, the IHG takeover of Kimpton Hotels means the two chain’s loyalty programs are likely to merge in 2017. While Kimpton doesn’t have the footprint IHG possess, it is famed for its personalised service and loyalty program, so hopefully IHG members will get to access those properties in the near future.
On the downside, IHG recently removed the lifetime guarantees surrounding the status of your account, and you’ll lose your points after 12 months if you don’t earn or redeem some within that timeframe.
Also, while it’s relatively easy to gain elite status, we’ve seen more than a few complaints that the rewards on offer for the Gold and Platinum traveller aren’t as impressive as you’ll find elsewhere.
And that random aspect of the PointBreaks system seems ingrained in the base offerings as well. We’ve heard of people earning 30,000 points for a single stay at a Holiday Inn Express, while others get as little as 500 or free trail mix for a night’s accommodation.
That said, if eternal vigilance seems to you like a cheap price to pay for an annual luxury getaway to an exotic location, IHG Rewards Club is a smart choice.
For vacations that get you your points and other rewards while taking advantage of a hugely-discounted corporate rate, sign up with JetLux today.
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