IHG Clarifies Their Confusing Booking Clarification Email

Filed Under: IHG Rewards

A few days ago I wrote about how IHG sent an email to members with a “member booking update,” which was very poorly handled. In the email they stated that as of January 1, 2017, members would only receive the full benefits that come with IHG Rewards Club membership when booking directly through IHG, and not when booking through other travel booking sites.

This is certainly the trend in the industry, as hotels are trying to reduce bookings through online travel agencies as much as possible, given that they have to pay them a commission.

However, there were two problems with IHG’s email:

  • It created confusion, as it led a lot of people to believe that bookings through corporate travel agents would no longer qualify for points accrual and benefits, which wasn’t the intent
  • The policy, as written, reflected IHG’s current policy, and not a change of policy; IHG already doesn’t award points or provide elite benefits when booking through a third party

Why send out an email alarming members when it doesn’t actually represent a change in policy?

Well, IHG has just sent out an email to members providing an update on their member benefits update email.


The email read in part as follows:

We recently sent an email about changes to your member benefits that come into effect at the beginning of next year. We’ve realized that some of the details may not have been very clear, and we’re sorry if we caused any confusion. Our intention is always to be transparent with you about our program. In this instance, we could have been clearer in our message.

We would like to reassure you that when you book directly with IHG® (IHG.com, the IHG® App, IHG®brand sites, Central Reservations, or Hotel Direct), nothing will change, and this also applies to corporate business bookings made through your company’s travel agency or travel department. You will continue to receive all the wonderful IHG® Rewards Club membership benefits that you enjoy today.

It’s pretty embarrassing that they sent all members such an alarming email to begin with, and it’s equally bad that their clarification email doesn’t do much to clarify the situation. So what exactly is changing, IHG?

Very, very poor communication, if you ask me…

  1. Yeah, I don’t think the second email added much to the conversation, though I know people were confused about whether corporate bookings would qualify (even though it said in the original email that they would).

  2. I think what they were dancing around was that purchasing stays via an OTA will no longer provide for those most excellent IHG benefits. Would have just been easier to say that.

  3. At least their poor communication is consistent.

    Trying to speak with their phone reps is equally frustrating given that they’re not based in North America and English isn’t their native language.

  4. I loathe this kind of writing:

    “some of the details may not have been very clear,”

    It is weaselly, wafflely, cowardly and obfuscatory.

    No customer can trust a service-provider which approaches their own services and their own customers with that kind of cover-my-ass verbal mush.

    The only thing clear is that the company will always benefit itself.

  5. Honestly I find that almost all the programs promise a lot and deliver little. I find myself constantly fighting with hotels to get upgraded to “the best room available at check in” they almost always try to cheat you by calling the same category room a different name and when you push back and ask what the difference is they will stutter and say something lame like “well the deluxe room has a coffee maker and extra towels” it’s actually ridiculous how much they lie to not give you the best available room! That being said I personally find the IHG CS really good compared to Marriott and SPG I find that IHG rarely makes excuses and is more about trying to compensate you for your troubles. I’ve had very good CS from the IHG team both overseas and sometimes in the USA. I find the CS from the Canadian SPG desk horibble and slightly hostile but realistically even though IHG outsources some of their CS to Asia they have a service culture unlike Canada where they feel it’s beneath them. If I have a serious issue with IHG (once my reservation got cancelled the day I was to arrive without a call or email) the Asians will transfer you to the USA team who has more authority (they comped me at another hotel chain and paid for my Uber from SFO to San Jose because SF was so booked that night I had to go to San Jose to find a room) I’m a PT and have top status with Hilton, SPG, Marriott, IHG and almost (next week 😉 Hyatt) and I’ve had the best CS experiences with IHG. But just to add a little bit more to that I do find that the higher end IHG hotels will play the same room upgrade scams as the other brands, it’s always insulting and I always push back and most of the time get what I have earned “the best room available” it just sucks you have to fight for what they have already promised.

  6. Re the original thread of the reward points, it is even confusing the hotel staff. I was informed today at check-in at an IHG hotel that they could not award reward points for my stay as it was not booked direct through their website and mentioned the Jan 27 cut-off email. It was booked through my company’s travel agent and, when I showed them the text in the 2nd clarification email I had received, they retracted and awarded the points. They said they will need to get clarification from IHG. What a complete mess!…..

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