Details: Shangri-La Circle (New Loyalty Program)

Details: Shangri-La Circle (New Loyalty Program)

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Shangri-La is a luxury hotel group with just over 100 properties around the globe. I don’t talk about Shangri-La that much, given the limited opportunities with the hotel’s loyalty program, plus the heavy focus on Asia (much of which continues to be off limits to international travelers, especially with China being Shangri-La’s biggest market).

In January 2022, Shangri-La revealed a major refresh to its loyalty program. This is a heads up that the new program goes live as of Thursday, April 28, 2022. Let’s take a look at all of the details.

Details of Shangri-La’s new loyalty program

As of April 28, 2022, Shangri-La’s loyalty program is getting a new name, a new rewards structure, and some new elite perks. As it’s described, the new program is intended to be flexible and simple, and to offer more recognition:

“Shangri-La Circle’s new elevated offerings was designed with our members in mind. We listened to their feedback, went back to the drawing board, combed through the knots, and enhanced the features they love.”

While flexibility and simplicity are good on the surface, in reality Shangri-La is fully moving to dynamic award pricing, which probably isn’t great for those looking to maximize value. Let’s look at various aspects of the new program.

Shangri-La Circle is no longer “Golden”

The first change is that Shangri-La’s loyalty program is rebranding. While the program was previously known as Shangri-La Golden Circle, it’ll now simply be known as Shangri-La Circle. I don’t really have strong feelings there one way or another, other than that I appreciate the simple name.

The new Shangri-La Circle logo

Earning points with Shangri-La Circle

Nothing is changing with how you earn Shangri-La points, as you continue to earn one point per dollar spent, excluding taxes and fees. So if your hotel stay costs $1,000, you would earn 1,000 points.

Redeeming points with Shangri-La Circle

The biggest changes coming to Shangri-La are on the redemption side. For context, previously free night redemptions followed an award chart with seven categories of hotels, costing anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 points per night for a standard room.

Shangri-La’s old hotel award chart

In other words, you’d need to spend $1,000 to $20,000 in order to earn a free night. However, historically that hasn’t even been the best use of Shangri-La rewards, as you could also redeem points for vouchers toward dining and spa purchases at Shangri-La properties:

  • You could redeem 500 Shangri-La points for a $50 voucher
  • You could redeem 1,000 Shangri-La points for a $100 voucher

In other words, each Shangri-La point could get you 10 cents toward on-property spending, meaning the loyalty program offered the equivalent of 10% back.

The new program is much simpler, and that’s not a good thing. Going forward, Shangri-La is going full-on dynamic with award pricing:

  • There will no longer be blackout dates, but rather you can redeem points toward any Shangri-La experience at the rate of 15 points per dollar
  • In other words, each Shangri-La point will get you ~6.67 cents toward the cost of a hotel stay, or a dining or spa experience
  • You can redeem points partly toward the cost of any experience, so you don’t need to have enough points for the entire experience

This is a significant devaluation. Previously each point could get you 10 cents toward a dining or spa experience, while now it can only get you 6.67 cents toward a dining or spa experience.

Shangri-La Paris

Shangri-La Circle elite status

With the new program, Shangri-La Circle will have four elite tiers:

  • Shangri-La Circle Gold status
  • Shangri-La Circle Jade status
  • Shangri-La Circle Diamond status
  • Shangri-La Circle Polaris status

In the past status could be earned based either on the number of nights or stays completed, while with the new program status can be earned based on the number of nights completed or the number of tier points earned (with members getting one tier point per dollar spent). Yep, the program is increasingly moving toward being revenue based.

Shangri-La Circle Gold is the tier you get just for registering, and it offers the ability to earn free nights, member exclusive offers, mobile check-in and check-out, and more.

Shangri-La Circle Jade is the entry-level elite tier, requiring 20 nights or 6,000 tier points. This includes incremental perks like daily breakfast, early check-in and late check-out, welcome amenities, room upgrades, bonus points, and more.

Shangri-La Circle Diamond is the highest published elite tier, requiring 50 nights or 15,000 tier points. This includes incremental perks like executive lounge access, complimentary pressing service, and more.

Shangri-La Circle Polaris is the group’s new invitation-only elite status. This includes incremental perks like executive lounge access even when not staying at a hotel, flexible check-in and check-out (as early as 12AM and as late as 6PM), complimentary airport meet & greet, four hours of complimentary car service per stay, and more.

Shangri-La Circle launch offer (for new & existing members)

To celebrate the launch of the new Shangri-La Circle program, there will be promotions for both new and existing members. Between April 28 and July 31, 2022:

  • Existing members can receive up to 1,500 bonus points for qualifying transactions within the promotion period — this would be unlocked with five or more transactions
  • New members can receive 300 bonus points upon their first qualifying transaction, and up to 1,500 bonus points for subsequent transactions, similar to the bonus for existing members

My take on the new Shangri-La Circle program

Shangri-La has some great hotels, though the loyalty program has never inspired me much. The program wasn’t exciting to me before these changes, and the program is even less exciting to me after these changes. A few general thoughts:

  • For those maximizing value, Shangri-La’s loyalty program is becoming roughly one-third less rewarding; previously you could get up to 10 cents per point, and with the new program you can get up to 6.67 cents per point
  • On some level you’d almost be better off booking through an online travel agency that offers 10% back toward a future stay, especially if you’re not a Shangri-La regular; in reality the biggest benefit of booking direct is being able to take advantage of additional perks through programs like Virtuoso, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, etc.
  • Personally I always find it weird when luxury travel brands try to essentially turn their loyalty program into a revenue-based discount club; I think that’s a great concept for Allegiant’s loyalty program (where consumers are typically highly price sensitive, and offering redemptions with every trip keeps people engaged), but to me it just doesn’t seem as exciting for a luxury hotel group
  • My biggest issue with Shangri-La’s loyalty program is how hard it is to engage with the program if you’re not in Asia; there aren’t many ways to earn points with Shangri-La efficiently outside of hotel stays, and many of Shangri-La properties are in countries that still have closed borders
Shangri-La Colombo

Bottom line

The new Shangri-La Circle program will be launching this week, on April 28, 2022. With this, the biggest change will be to how points can be redeemed. Points will be redeemable at the rate of ~6.67 cents each toward virtually any Shangri-La experience. There will no longer be a free night award chart for Shangri-La stays, and you’ll also no longer be able to redeem points for 10 cents each toward dining & spa experiences.

Shangri-La is definitely following the direction the industry is headed, with a focus on flexibility rather than aspirational redemptions and outsized value.

What do you make of the new Shangri-La Circle program?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Nick Guest

    As someone who lives in Asia I frequently dine here, and will stay when Hilton properties are not available. I maxed out the launch offer with 5 events earning 1500 points during the promo period that ended 7/31. However they are yet to credit the points and I am starting to get nervous thinking they made the offer too rich and have no intention of honoring it. Did anyone get their points yet?

  2. Nissan Ben yehuda Guest

    Before Covid I was in diamond class for a long time, i do not know how I was taken down to gade class, the new changes make me start to search for better hotels

  3. John Guest

    What am I missing? A 9.9 cent value per point (6.6 plus 50% elite earning bonus) is a pretty great yield, and this redemption rate now applies to room spend, not just spa/dining. Also, this yield is incremental to any additional yield you harvest booking via Amex.
    You seem upset that your personal travels don’t take you to where Shangri La has hotels. Sorry about that!

  4. Andy Diamond

    I really like the hotels, but gave up on their program when most of my work shifted away from Asia. And that was pre-COVID. Now, any meaningful status is very unlikely to achieve.

  5. tda1986 Guest

    “Guaranteed Bed Type” is a Diamond perk?

  6. TC New Member

    I think there is a little more nuance to "Earning points with Shangri-La Circle", because if you're a Jade/Diamond/Polaris tier, you have bonus points. This means you get more points for every USD$1 spent, which results in a higher "cashback" value. For Jade members, as an example, you'd get 25% more in terms of points earned, meaning that your cashback value is around 8.3 cents per dollar (contrasted against 6.6 cents per dollar for entry...

    I think there is a little more nuance to "Earning points with Shangri-La Circle", because if you're a Jade/Diamond/Polaris tier, you have bonus points. This means you get more points for every USD$1 spent, which results in a higher "cashback" value. For Jade members, as an example, you'd get 25% more in terms of points earned, meaning that your cashback value is around 8.3 cents per dollar (contrasted against 6.6 cents per dollar for entry level status), though this of course used to be higher pre-devaluation. It used to be good when the Amex Plat charge card bundled Jade status...but alas no more...

    1. TC New Member

      Why am I being identified as a "New Member" lol

  7. Andrew Diamond

    I like the idea of a competitive program, but the whole "zero properties in the US" is a bit of a challenge for loyalty, at least until I win the lottery and/or retire.

    That said, I get why. The average Hilton/Marriott/Hyatt property in the US is sad trash compared to international equivalents. Why would they sully their name by putting inevitably substandard properties here?

  8. Super Gold

    My take is the typical Shangri-LA customer is the type of person who would redeem Amex points for an Apple Macbook - aka someone who doesn't care what the "maximum redemption value" of their points are. They just know there are points and it gets them free stuff. They're surprised and delighted there is status and it gets them benefits, but otherwise they don't care and won't affect their spending habits.

    1. Glenn Guest

      Totally agree, most of the readers of this and other travel blogs are not the target audience and quite frankly, not even a significant portion of customers that these programs are aimed at. I think that most people who stay at Shangri-La will be surprised and delighted when they get some "special" perks and if/when they get a free room, it will just be icing on the cake.

    2. David Guest

      I’d think that’s more the Four Seasons and Aman type of customer. If these points don’t affect their spending habits, then the entire loyalty program is a waste of money.

    3. Tom Guest

      Sorry, this is complete nonsense. I am probably this kind of person (I stay in Aman-type hotels and fly first class often paying cash), but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about value for money at all, as I am sadly not a billionaire. Most of my stays go to Marriott or Hyatt for the points / upgrades or, where there is clearly a better option, then Four Seasons / Aman etc. Completely agree with...

      Sorry, this is complete nonsense. I am probably this kind of person (I stay in Aman-type hotels and fly first class often paying cash), but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about value for money at all, as I am sadly not a billionaire. Most of my stays go to Marriott or Hyatt for the points / upgrades or, where there is clearly a better option, then Four Seasons / Aman etc. Completely agree with this article that there is almost no point to Shangri-La’s loyalty programme now, it won’t attract either the people paying for the best hotel in town or the people wanting the best benefits so what is it the point?

  9. David Guest

    Don't understand the point of these types of loyalty program. It wouldn't drive any additional stays from me because it's not competitive (and I'm sure I'm not alone). They might as well cost cut even more and just do away with the program completely if it doesn't change consumer behaviour.

  10. snory Guest

    I am wondering if you would also give your take on GHA Discovery program given it was recently refreshed as well.

  11. ktc Guest

    had to agree with VFTW on Polaris' "Welcome Experience: "... to say they’re amazing and over the top would be an understatement". of course likely none of us reading will be able to experience

  12. Maxie Dean Guest

    It will be interesting to see what they determine will garner an invitation to Polaris status .

    1. ZIMMER Guest

      IMO the "elite perks" are always designed for people who don't care about the perks at all. Following that logic, the Polaris status is for those Arabic princes.

  13. Ethan Guest

    Another one bite the dust (Okay one third of 10 cent/p goes puff is hard, but not end of the world.
    We'll see Marriott going more like IHG or Hilton dynamic.

  14. Endre Guest

    Don’t you miss for your Jade tier description EARLY checkin and LATE checkout? It says “checkin and checkout” as of now (the time I’m posting this).

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

David Guest

Don't understand the point of these types of loyalty program. It wouldn't drive any additional stays from me because it's not competitive (and I'm sure I'm not alone). They might as well cost cut even more and just do away with the program completely if it doesn't change consumer behaviour.

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Nick Guest

As someone who lives in Asia I frequently dine here, and will stay when Hilton properties are not available. I maxed out the launch offer with 5 events earning 1500 points during the promo period that ended 7/31. However they are yet to credit the points and I am starting to get nervous thinking they made the offer too rich and have no intention of honoring it. Did anyone get their points yet?

0
Nissan Ben yehuda Guest

Before Covid I was in diamond class for a long time, i do not know how I was taken down to gade class, the new changes make me start to search for better hotels

0
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