The IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group) Best Rate Guarantee is very generous and probably the most generous BRG program of all the major chains, because it offers a free night if you can get your claim approved.
In fact, I think it’s a bit too generous because you have many “travel hackers” trying to leverage these to get free nights at $400+ intercontinental hotels around the world. I’ve definitely done a few BRG’s myself, but there are people who probably get thousands of dollars in hotels saved. Just look at the length of the Flyertalk thread.
So they’ve made some changes which, to be honest, is not so good for these small (or large) subset of claims, and mostly neutral to the rest of us.
– The biggest change is not being able to validate the claim over the phone.
This is a huge deterrence because it means that hotel claims can change during the time you submit the claim. I’m not suggesting that IHG doesn’t do funny business, but with email claims that people have submitted there have been accounts of the rates being changed and their claims denied. A strategy that was used with calling is always booking the best flexible rate, and once the phone agent validated your claim but said that you need to book the lowest (non-refundable) rate, you could do that over the phone. Now if you try that over email, it’s likely they’ll have pulled the rate over.
– You also cannot claim a free room within 50 miles of your home address (IHG Rewards Club address).
– Change to both rates requiring the same “view”
– You can only make one claim every 7 days.
These other changes aren’t too bad but they aren’t positive.
I think what IHG is trying to do is change the terms without really changing the terms, because I’m fairly sure that there would be a pretty big backlash if they scrapped it, but it may be costing a lot when you have 300/400+ claims at once for something like the IC NY Barclay when something goes viral on a blog/website.
Definitely a smart move on their part, not so great for us but at least it doesn’t undermine the traveller who is willing to pay the room rate in the first place and then just finds a competing lower rate and not the people who like it the other way around (finding a competing lower rate first).
You can access the new terms here.
HT to Loyalty Lobby