News broke recently that the Kimpton – IHG Merger was moving forward. This has dreaded event has been three years in the making, but it certainly still stung. Up until now, the two loyalty programs remained separate, though that will change next year when Kimpton officially becomes part of the IHG Rewards Club program. Die-hard Kimpton fans were pretty devastated at the prospect of an IHG-run Kimpton chain. But is it much ado about nothing?
IHG is selling this as a “evolution” of Karma Rewards and IHG Rewards Club into a “combined” rewards program. Kimpton has a pretty loyal fanbase – probably more so than IHG Rewards Club does. Part of that loyalty is inspired by its rewards program, which IHG is smart to take note of. Why anger a loyal base by doing away with their rewards program altogether? Luckily, a few key benefits of Kimpton Karma Rewards will remain when Kimpton switches over to IHG Rewards Club
- Raid the Bar (Tier 2,3,4)
- $30 spa credit
- Custom stay preferences
- Karma exclusive offers + invitations to special events
- Inner Circle benefits
IHG is more than meeting Kimpton loyalists halfway here by keeping some pretty significant aspects of its rewards program intact. The negative parts of this partnership? IHG will do away with Kimpton’s Journey Rewards, whereby members could earn free nights after staying at 10+ different Kimpton hotels in a calendar year. I guess it’s understandable, since Kimpton is set to expand substantially, making 10+ different hotel stays much more attainable. There’s also the elimination of the minibar credit for Tier 1 properties, but that’s pretty minor.
Another significant (positive) change is that members will be able to redeem IHG points for Kimpton stays. Considering how easy IHG makes it for members to earn free nights via paid stays and credit card spending, that’s good news. IHG also has some pretty significant bonus point promotions. So despite their inflated award chart, it’s actually not that difficult to earn enough points for a free night with IHG Rewards Club.
IHG is one of the largest hotel groups out there, but what they have in numbers they lack in quality. Aside from some of their top-tier Intercontinental properties, it can be tough to round up the best IHG Rewards Club hotels. There just aren’t that many aspirational IHG hotels out there, which makes it difficult for folks to figure out how to redeem their IHG points and free nights from the IHG Credit Card. The up side of Kimpton joining IHG Rewards Club is that there are going to be more high-end hotels for IHG members to redeem their points and free nights for. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.
So is the Kimpton-IHG merger all bad news? No. Kimpton Karma Rewards members lose a few valuable benefits but IHG makes up for it with great point-earning opportunities. IHG acquired a boutique hotel chain and recognizes the value in maintaining some aspects of that experience guests enjoy. So far, the merger seems fairly harmless and not worth getting worked up about.
But I want to hear from you: What do you think of Kimpton joining IHG Rewards Club next year?