IHG Rewards Club members will no longer be treated to their usual membership perks on hotel stays booked via third party websites such as Booking.com and Expedia from January 2017.
From the New Year, travellers must instead make reservations through IHG – including online, using the IHG app, through central telephone reservations, with the hotel direct or via corporate travel portals – to enjoy their usual privileges.
Among the benefits at stake: free in-room Internet access, priority check-in, complimentary room upgrades and a late check-out, depending on your IHG Rewards Club loyalty tier, plus free drink vouchers at selected Crowne Plaza properties, such as in Singapore and Kobe, Japan.
In an email sent to IHG Rewards Club members, the chain justifies the move by saying that “we want to give you the best travel experience—from start to finish—every time. And we can only do that when you book with us directly.”
However, online travel agencies and booking websites are known for charging hotels high commissions on bookings – up to 15% of the total booking price in Australia and up to 25% in the USA and Europe – a cost that many chains and also smaller operators would rather avoid.
IHG already encourages travellers to book direct by offering ‘Your Rates’: a selection of discounted room prices only available to IHG Rewards Club members on direct bookings which undercut other online providers, with similar incentives also used by Accor, Hilton and Starwood.
The promise of earning loyalty points on hotel stays has also long been used to lure travellers to book directly with hotels, with IHG continuing to withhold these on bookings made via third party websites.
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