Priority Club Gold and Platinum status has long been a joke, both in terms of qualification criteria and benefits.
Gold status requires 15 nights or 20,000 earned points, while Platinum status required 50 nights or 60,000 earned points. What’s unique about Priority Club compared to other programs through which you can qualify on points is that they counted all earned points towards status. For example, outright 60,000 points during a promotion would get you Platinum status. So in a way the 15/50 night stay requirements are an absolute joke, since in practice you could earn status much more easily.
But even though status was extremely easy to earn, I don’t think it was really too easy, given how limited the benefits were. As a Platinum member, for example, you received a 50% points bonus on stays, but that was about the only consistent benefit. Upgrades were entirely at the discretion at the hotel, and Priority Club elite benefits don’t even apply at InterContinental hotels, which have their own “Ambassador” loyalty program.
But per a notice posted on their Chinese website, as of January 1, 2013, they’ll change the way they calculate points that qualify towards status, which (apparently) roughly translates as follows:
Starting from 1st January 2013, PCR points will be divided into two categories: status points and non-status points. This is to better clarify the threshold for Gold and Platinum memberships. The status points will include qualifying room rate and partner points from qualifying activities. The qualifying room rate also include: flexible room rate, corporate rate, GDS corporate rate, state/regional/local government negotiated rate and special leisure rate confirmed in HOLIDEX Plus system assigned by IHG. Non-status points will include: promotional points, points voucher, point purchase, point transfer and point deposit.
So while it’s not entirely clear which points will count as status points and which will count as non-status points, I think it’s safe to assume that it won’t be possible to earn Platinum status anymore by making a few stays on cheap rates with lots of stackable promotions.
Now, the optimist in me wants to think that they’re intentionally doing this so they can start adding value to the program and making Priority Club status worth having, which obviously can’t be the case with their current system. But the realist in me recognizes that Priority Club doesn’t even honor elite benefits on award stays (they’re the only major chain where that’s the case), so I have a hard time imagining they’re thinking progressively here.
And maybe it’s just my imagination, but I have the perception that Priority Club is more focused on having as many members as they can vs. as many elite members as they can. While Hyatt Gold Passport seems like an elite-centric program, I get the impression Priority Club is more interested in creating loyalty among the average once a year traveler that would otherwise stay at a Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express/Crowne Plaza competitor. That might explain why 90% of the time I’m thanked at check-in for being a “Priority Club member,” and given the same “welcome gift” as any Priority Club member.
On the whole I’m guessing this will simply mean that the program remains as lame as it currently is, but fewer of us will have status with them… maybe they’re doing us a favor?
I hope I’m wrong. I’ll make another post once we receive official clarification on which activities count as status points and which don’t.
(Tip of the hat to Gary)