Kimpton Karma Rewards Benefits

In late June I had wrote about how Kimpton would be making changes to their loyalty program in July.

I first wrote about Kimpton Inner Circle in late 2012, as I found it to be a really innovative loyalty program. While they don’t have big enough of a footprint to suit my travel needs, I’ve always commended them for running a transparent and innovative program.

As a refresher, Kimpton’s loyalty program used to have two elite tiers — InTouch and Inner Circle — with the following benefits:

Kimpton-Elite-Benefits

Kimpton has finally announced the changes they’re making to their loyalty program, which they’ve rebranded as Kimpton Karma Rewards. I have to say that the site they’ve made outlining the new program is gorgeous, if nothing else.

Kimpton-Karma-Rewards-Benefits

So what changes is Kimpton making to their loyalty program? For one, they’re going from having two elite tiers to four tiers:

  • Kimpton Tier 1 (just for signing up)
  • Kimpton Tier 2 (after 3 stays or 10 nights)
  • Kimpton Tier 3 (after 7 stays or 20 nights)
  • Kimpton Inner Circle (after 14 stays or 40 nights)

Very innovative names. ;)

Here’s a summary of the benefits by tier:

Kimpton-Karma-Rewards

So taking out the “fluff,” lets talk about the actual benefits by elite tier (and for a more detailed description of each benefit, check out the FAQs):

Kimpton Karma Rewards Tier 1 benefits

Just for joining Kimpton Karma Rewards you receive:

  • Free wifi
  • Raid the bar credit
  • Ability to earn free nights

Kimpton Karma Rewards Tier 2 benefits

For making 3 stays or 10 nights you receive the following in addition to the above:

  • $30 in-room spa credit
  • Complimentary one category room upgrade at check-in based on availability once during your membership year

Kimpton Karma Rewards Tier 3 benefits

For making 7 stays or 20 nights you receive the following in addition to the above:

  • Additional complimentary one category upgrade at check-in based on availability once during your membership year (total of two per year)
  • Late check-out priority once during your membership year
  • Welcome amenity once during your membership year
  • Chef’s tasting

Kimpton Karma Rewards Inner Circle benefits

For making 14 stays or 40 nights (Inner Circle used to require 15 stays or 45 nights, so the qualification threshold has gone down) you receive the following in addition to the above:

  • Complimentary one category upgrade at check-in based on availability with all stays
  • Late check-out priority based on availability with all stays
  • Welcome amenity with all stays
  • Greater rewards availability
  • Complimentary night at new hotels (status matched Inner Circle members must make three stays before they’re eligible for this)

Kimpton-InnerCircle-Welcome-Amenity
Kimpton Inner Circle welcome amenity

My thoughts on the new Karma Rewards program

Maybe I’m just not the brightest, but to me the program seems unnecessarily complicated. Also, I find receiving a room upgrade, welcome amenity, or late check-out based on availability 1-2 times per year to be a bit of an odd benefit. If it’s based on availability, why not just make it unlimited, at least for Tier 3?

Inner Circle members no longer eligible for suite upgrades?

The best part of the Inner Circle program was previously that members would receive upgrades to the best available suites at check-in.

The new terms & conditions seem to suggest that Inner Circle members only receive a one category upgrade, specifically excluding suites (bolding mine):

Complimentary Room Upgrade : Upgrade is subject to availability at time of check-in and will vary by property. The upgrade benefit is available for one room for the personal use of the member only, regardless of the number of additional rooms reserved by the member and cannot be guaranteed in advance of check-in. When available, the complimentary upgrade is granted for one room level category higher than the room reserved by the member during every stay and excludes suites.

Ouch! However, the Kimpton representative on FlyerTalk seems to suggest this isn’t the case:

As far as upgrades go, we’ll do our best to put you in a suite if it’s available upon check in. That’s always been our policy and we haven’t changed that – we simply clarified in our T&Cs that it’s not a guarantee (never has been) and is based on the discretion of the hotels. But chances are, you’ll still be kicking back in an awesome room whenever you’re with us.

Yes, the terms make it pretty clear that upgrades are based on availability at check-in, though the new terms also suggest that suites are specifically excluded from the upgrade pool, so I’m not sure what to make of that.

Bottom line on Kimpton Karma program

I’m a big fan of Kimpton in general. While I haven’t stayed at a lot of their properties, it’s clear that they do business differently than most other hotel chains. These changes seem to be a lot of unnecessary fluff, in my opinion, and I find the contradiction regarding suite upgrades for Inner Circle members bizarre, given that Kimpton is one of the most transparent brands I know.

What do you make of the Kimpton loyalty program changes?

Comments

  1. JustSaying says

    I am still waiting to see what “new” hotels are on the “free” list for Inner Circle for 2014 and 2015.

  2. Lou says

    Inner circle member. 12 stays so far this year. 9 suites. 2 oversized 1 bed. And yesterday. A regular room with a connecting door! The horror.

    Let’s see what I get next week when the hotel is packed for a conference.

  3. Preston says

    It’s worth noting here that a lot of the reason why the T&Cs are so confusing (and basically contradict my real-life experience) is that there is a wide disparity between Kimpton properties at the high and low ends. And, there is a wide disparity between what different properties are willing to do for IC members.

    So, while you are likely to get a massive suite upgrade at a hotel like the Alexis in Seattle, you’re very unlikely to get a suite at a property like FireSky or Hotel La Jolla. And, a number of the properties don’t offer many regular suites (like Nine Zero, which has a handful of specialty suites that aren’t typically available for IC upgrade).

    As a loyalty program, this makes the benefits extremely confusing for the outside observer. Add in special benefits like the Chef’s Treat, which is something that only 20-25% of the Kimpton restaurants I’ve eaten at have offered, and it’s hard to make an objective judgement on the program without experiencing it first-hand.

    My guess is that the 1x or 2x upgrades/welcome amenities will be a total clusterfuddle for folks at the low/mid-tiers. If I waited all year to pick up one welcome amenity, and the hotel botched it or offered less than expected, I would be furious. With IC, you take the good and bad, and it all evens out at a pretty high level.

    Given the fact that you’re living in hotels, I think it would be worth pursuing Kimpton IC. With the many unique hotels and interesting amenities, I’d love to read the reviews!

  4. Santastico says

    Wow!!! I hope they developed this complicated program “in house” and did not spend time with consultants. This is the most complicated and adds in my opinion the most useless perks I ever seen. So I need to be in their top tier to get a newspaper? Well, even a Courtyard offers that for free. VIP restaurants reservations? Have they heard of Open Table? Do I need them to make a reservation for me? Direct access to CEO? What? Unless I am applying for a job there and HR does not get back to me maybe that would be helpful. Too many useless perks that will add complexity for anyone to manage.

  5. Ivan Y says

    Sounds needlessly complicated – going to 3 tiers would’ve been easier. Only offering complimentary upgrades once or twice also seems kind of weird.

  6. David says

    I’m guessing they want to limit upgrades based on availability to the lower tiers so that the higher tier members will have a greater chance of getting an upgrade; it’ll be less likely for suites and higher category rooms to be occupied by lower tier members.

  7. says

    I was also disappointed in the language excluding suite upgrades. It seems like the program is getting more corporate, which translates to reduced tangible benefits. I believe the hotels may still be giving out suites, but this gives them an out. Also, as an elite guest, the late check out seems to be mostly fluff. I am mostly comparing to Hyatt Diamond which has a no nonsense 4:00pm late check out guaranteed for Diamond members.

    It is these kinds of nno nonsense, no strings attached benefits which are really tangible.

    The part about not extending in hotel benefits for certain rates is also concerning.

    Finally the documentation suggests you can get some sort of credit for dining at a restaurant either as part of a stay or separately, but I could not tell what that dining benefit is?

    I imagine the program may appeal a lot to people that stay 4 times a year as with traditional programs such members would not get any tangible recognition. The WiFi and rade the bar benefits are the base level are also impressive.

    But really what I compare it to is Hyatt Diamond with the 4 suite upgrades, and the rock solid 4:00pm checkout!

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