InterContinental Royal Ambassador Referral Certificates Eliminated

InterContinental has an invitation only elite status tier, which they call Royal Ambassador. The only other status available directly with InterContinental (as opposed to the IHG Rewards Club program as a whole) is Ambassador status, which can be purchased for $200 per year.

The requirements to achieve Royal Ambassador status are unpublished and seem to vary year-by-year, but generally you’re going to have to spend at least 60 nights per year at IHG properties to achieve it, with a good number of them being at InterContinental properties.


InterContinental Berchtesgaden — one of my favorite IHG properties

Royal Ambassador was the first hotel elite status I ever had, and I really loved it back in the day. The greatest thing about it was that perks weren’t based on availability, but rather guaranteed. So you were offered a guaranteed upgrade, guaranteed 8AM check-in, guaranteed 4PM check-out, unlimited in-room consumption of minibar beverages, etc. They just did an all around great job with managing expectations, I thought.

One other cool perk of Royal Ambassador — up until recently — has been that those earning Royal Ambassador status get a referral certificate, whereby they can nominate a friend or colleague to the status as well.

Going back many years that was far too generous for anyone’s good. Referred Royal Ambassador members would receive Royal Ambassador referral certificates in their welcome packages as well. So if someone nominated someone else for Royal Ambassador status, that referred member could then nominate someone else, and so on.

A couple of years back they “fixed” that and started only giving referral certificates to Royal Ambassador members that actually qualified for the status, which was a perfectly reasonable change.

According to LoyaltyLobby they’ve now taken it one step further, and as of April no longer issue Royal Ambassador referral certificates at all, even for members that earn it “the hard way.”

Ultimately they’re perfectly within their rights to do that, and they were in a league of their own by offering the benefit to begin with, given that there’s no other hotel program that offers top tier elite members the ability to nominate someone else to the same status. Unfortunately they didn’t announce the change in any way, but I guess that’s okay when the program is unpublished and invitation only, since folks aren’t really “entitled” to benefits anyway.

There are aspects of being Royal Ambassador that I miss, but on the whole I can’t say I’m tempted to put any effort into earning the status again. Over the years a lot of hotels devalued their Royal Ambassador benefits in the name of consistency, basically offering the “guaranteed” benefits vs. going above and beyond, as they previously did. Beyond that, for the most part their properties just don’t excite me. They have some newly built properties that are nice, but there are far too many properties that are past their prime, in my opinion. Lastly, I’ve always found it quite frustrating that they don’t technically honor Royal Ambassador benefits on award stays.

Comments

  1. Buh bye IHG
    I’ll be staying at all your competitors
    Their invited tier level wasn’t all that great and many hotels wouldn’t include breakfast
    Not to mention select hotels that did a stingy one category upgrade only
    And the international hotels who REFUSE all benefits due to redeeming points
    Good riddance I can get a late checkout at many nicer hotels and rarely miss Ambassador status or the free mini bar with a few waters and a few cokes
    If they bother to refill the mini bar at all

  2. I always thought that there program had too many flaws. The biggest problem I had was no benefits when staying on award stays. I like that, you are special when soendinf cash, but not so when using points. Thanks.

    Another problem I gad was club lounge was not a perk. Thanks again. Couple those with such a few great properties made it a pretty weak program.

    Finally what is their qualification?

  3. @ Lucky – surprised no one had volunteered to give you RA status. Guess all the certs are going on eBay. Loyalty Lobby mentions some going for $2,000; there are two live auctions currently (one at $680; other – $999).

    Anyway, not sure why they need to make RA some sort of a secret club. If it’s really only 60 stays or so, that’s not outrageously high and would help convince people to stay at their properties; for example, SPG has multiple levels of Plat status to incentivize people (25 stays but <50 nights / 50 nights / 75 nights / 100 nights).

  4. I’d heard about this and am saddened by it. Thanks to the Coupon Connection on FT (also gone now) Either I or my wife have been RA’s for the past 7 or 8 years. I’ll miss the free minibars!

  5. I just spent 5 days at Paris IC on reward night and had junior suite,club access,4pm check out,,non alcoholic beverage,internet they deliver most benefit on reward night even if they say contrary,Frankfurt is the greefiest and wont give anything.

  6. I have been a loyal IHG Platinum Elite member since 2008. Stayed at Intercontinental in Vegas last week. Upon checking in, the host gave me the ‘Thank you for being a member’ and then a look. A look like…you know…not an Ambassador level member, but he had to acknowledge the ugly cousin. OMG. Seriously?! Keep the free fruit and no name brand water. Lol. I’ll keep the two hundred, thanks!

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