Frequent Flyer

IHG Debuts New Elite Tier for Top Travelers

InterContinental Hotels Group today introduced a new elite tier, dubbed Spire Elite, to reward its most frequent guests.

Among hotel loyalty programs’ elite schemes, IHG Rewards’ has been ho-hum at best. The company’s best customers were accorded a few extra benefits, but frequent travelers whose priority was elite perks knew to look elsewhere.

Apparently to address that deficiency, InterContinental Hotels Group today introduced a new elite tier, dubbed Spire Elite, for its most frequent guests. (“Spire,” IHG advises, “is derived from the old English word ‘spir’—a shoot or a stalk of grass standing out amongst the others. It is awe inspiring, exceptional and a symbol of prestige. It conveys a sense of dedication and an aspirational attitude: going above and beyond; the sky is the limit. The name connotes a strong sense of prestige, elevated stature, and worthiness of admiration, along with a sense of dedication and an aspirational attitude, which is in line with how IHG Rewards Club sees its most loyal members who would qualify for this tier.” A branding expert would probably point out that a name that requires that much explanation isn’t likely to resonate with consumers.)

Related: 7 Ways to Get a Free Upgrade

Here’s how the company’s press release describes the new tier’s goal:

The feeling that you’re recognised for being special is what IHG Rewards Club aims to deliver with the launch of Spire Elite. It’s our way of saying thank you to our most loyal members, who from today will benefit from ability to earn 100% extra bonus points on all qualifying stays across the IHG hotel portfolio—an industry first.

Double points on every stay is a potentially valuable perk, to be sure. But compared to the next-lowest elite level, Platinum Elite, it’s one of only two extra perks Spire Elite members enjoy, the other being an “Exclusive Choice Benefit upon receiving status” (a choice of 25,000 points, or upgrading a friend or family member to Platinum status).

And to earn Spire status, IHG Rewards members will have to rack up 75 nights during a calendar year or 75,000 elite-qualifying points, versus 40 nights or 40,000 points for Platinum status, or 10 nights or 10,000 points for Gold.

So, a high hurdle to receive the following benefits, most of which are available to lower-level elites:

  • Priority check-in
  • 100% bonus points
  • Elite Rollover Nights
  • Room upgrades
  • Guaranteed room availability
  • Choice benefit

For die-hard IHG loyalists who meet the qualification criteria for Spire status, the extra points and welcome gift will certainly be appreciated. But for travelers not already committed to IHG, Spire isn’t likely to be a difference-maker.

Reader Reality Check

Do you aspire to Spire status?

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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