Today has provided quite a bit of entertainment and stress for those that have been following the IHG Into The Nights promotion changes. I wrote about this promotion a few weeks ago when I explained how to game the promotion to get a potentially unlimited amount of free nights at their top-end hotels. I even said in that post that “it is one of the best hotel promotions I have ever seen.”
Well, it looks like IHG decided it was too valuable to let customers actually take advantage of it, so they did the sleaziest thing that a loyalty program could do by changing the terms/requirements for the promotion in the middle of the promotion period. This is unacceptable on quite a few levels – not for those who planned on gaming it like I explained, but for those that simply planned to take advantage of the one offer they were entitled to.
The change they made was primarily with the requirement to book through their mobile app. For many people it increased from one night booked via the app to 3, 7, and in some cases up to a ridiculous 14 nights with the app. An increase of 1 to 14 is laughably ridiculous, so many people assumed that this must have been an IT glitch of some kind.
When I initially saw the news and read about peoples’ new offers, my first reaction was that it was not an IT glitch because everyone’s changed to different amounts. It would have made more sense to me if they all changed or increased the same amount, but that wasn’t the case.
It turns out that my gut feeling happened to be right this time. IHG replied to many people that inquired and said the new terms were the correct ones, and it didn’t matter whether you had already booked stays or not.
Then everyone complained and IHG got a lot of heat for it, so IHG said everyone who registered and saw their more favorable terms will still receive them, but new sign-ups would be subject to the terms they see.
So here’s a summary of the play-by-play of what happened:
- Everyone got their initial promotion that most were happy about.
- IHG decided it was too lucrative, so they changed terms mid-promotion and said the new terms were the ones we were actually supposed to receive. If you already made progress towards your promo, tough luck.
- People complained and IHG said those who registered will receive bonuses based on the original terms. New registrants will be subject to the new (higher) terms.
The official response and correction was posted in this post on FlyerTalk, which I think is a really lousy way of communicating this. There’s a ton of people that are not FlyerTalk members and they should not be expected to go there for information. People were (and in some cases still are) getting direct email responses saying that the old terms are no longer valid. IHG really screwed this one up.
The one thing that I think is the worst among all this is something that Ben from One Mile at a Time caught. They accidentally included on FlyerTalk a bullet point that was meant to be for internal use only (they have since edited the post to remove it). The bolding is Ben’s:
IHG Rewards Club Members who have yet to register or to see their offers will receive the variable stay amounts. To those who may inquire why they have a variable amount, simply say that we are honoring the original offers that members saw when they received their offers. All members who are newly registering are receiving the correct variable amounts.
They quite literally are telling their employees to lie to customers about their offers, because it’s clear that anyone that logged in to their account a few days ago would have received a more favorable offer than the one they receive today. They may be honoring what the customer originally saw, but that’s not what their original offer was.
In my opinion, I think it is best to NOT take advantage of this promotion any longer. This is based primarily on the following:
- I think it’s best to avoid companies that go about their business like this. It’s mind boggling to me that they thought it was alright to change the terms mid-promotion.
- Actual IT issues: 1) In the first days of the promotion many people reported their offers being zero points or not populated at all; 2)FlyerTalkers have indicated that even when they completed one of their offers, it did not trigger in IHG’s system as being complete. They have to send emails etc. to get what they deserve, and some are still going back and forth with IHG.
I don’t think you should have to fight to get what you deserve, and with IHG going back and forth on this issue I can foresee that a lot of people could end up having a lot more issues than they’d think is worth it. I’m lucky that I didn’t book any nights yet and now I don’t plan to, and I recommend you don’t as well.
If you’re already on your way to completing your offers, I’d say keep going but monitor your account like a hawk. Take screen shots and be proactive about sending emails to IHG to ensure your offers are marked as complete. This is especially true with the mobile app bookings, which many people have said does not trigger as showing complete.
IHG lost a lot of respect today amongst the points community. I also think it’s clear that the “big” bloggers making mention of the change in terms made all the difference in this case, because I don’t think IHG would have honored the original offers had they not mentioned it. IHG made their official response on FlyerTalk as well, so it shows that they actual monitor the points community pretty closely.