Kimpton’s CEO Chimes In On Future Of Kimpton Karma Rewards

Late last year it was announced that IHG would purchase Kimpton Hotels, as part of a $430 million deal. From their perspective, the deal made perfect sense — IHG is the world’s largest hotel chain, while Kimpton is the US’ largest boutique hotel chain. Kimpton has an amazing corporate culture and an incredible level of guest satisfaction, so the two companies have a lot they can learn from one another.

Kimpton-InnerCircle-Welcome-Amenity

Of course from a consumer’s perspective, the takeover might not look quite as beneficial. I’d argue the change benefits IHG Rewards Club members, as they’ll presumably at some point have access to Kimpton properties. Meanwhile Kimpton Karma Rewards members were generally huge fans of the program, and to some degree I doubt they can maintain their identity while operating within such a larger group.

With that in mind, one of the big question has been whether the Kimpton Karma Rewards program will continue to exist post-takeover.

Kimpton-Karma-Rewards

MJ On Travel just shared an email he received from Kimpton’s CEO about the future of the chain and the program, which has some interesting insight (bolding mine):

Where has the time gone? It’s June already and it feels like just yesterday we announced our acquisition by IHG. We have been steadily working with our new family at IHG to identify ways to bring the best of both worlds together. We remain firmly committed to our guests and to continuing to innovate for you. We are excited by the many growth opportunities ahead of us and also remain focused on maintaining our unique Kimpton DNA as we grow with IHG. Throughout this process, we have explored every part of our business with loyalty being a top focus. We think we have a pretty compelling opportunity with the IHG Rewards Club and continue to explore how to best bring these two programs together – keeping Kimpton Karma as unique as it is and also giving you the ability to tap into the rich IHG Rewards Club perks.

And, as always, we’re listening. We’ve begun conducting surveys and focus groups to gather your feedback and learn more about what you want (or don’t want!). As you can imagine, it will take time to build and implement, but your insight is imperative. Over the course of the next year you should start to see some of your feedback put into action as we roll out loyalty enhancements in phases. We will certainly keep you updated on our progress, but please be assured; we have good things in store!

Beyond Kimpton Karma remaining as a unique IHG Rewards Club program extension, I’m also happy to share that Kimpton as a whole will remain as it is and, in fact, our home office is staying put right here in our home town of San Francisco. IHG recognizes that the Bay Area is a great source of inspiration for us, allowing us to be on the cutting edge and continue to innovate around your guest experience. If you’re wondering what else is staying the same and what is changing, I can tell you that we’re changing in numbers and adding some really exciting new cities to our portfolio, like Austin, Winston-Salem, Nashville, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Palm Springs and Grand Cayman and have a really healthy pipeline of new hotels.

It’s an exciting time in Kimpton’s history, but we would be nowhere without our loyal guests and members. You all helped us build Kimpton to the special brand we all love working for and you enjoy staying with. Thank you so much for your continued loyalty!

To summarize:

  • Over the next year, Kimpton Karma Rewards program “enhancements” will be rolled out in phases
  • Kimpton Karma Rewards will continue to exist as an “extension” of the IHG Rewards Club program

It sounds like they’re sort of taking a hybrid approach here. Kimpton Karma Rewards won’t continue to exist completely independently, and at the same time it won’t disappear altogether. Instead it sounds like it will be similar to the Ambassador program which InterContinental offers, which is separate from IHG Rewards Club, but also a part of it.

InterContinental-Ambassador

Assuming it’s operated in a similar fashion, my predictions would be:

  • There will be some separate status offered within IHG Rewards Club for those who spend a substantial number of nights with Kimpton
  • There’s a chance that there might be a “buy in” option — currently Ambassador status can be purchased with InterContinental for $200
  • Those guests will receive unique benefits which at least somewhat reflect the current benefits offered to Kimpton Karma Rewards members
  • Points will be earned through IHG Rewards Club, so IHG Rewards Club points can be earned and redeemed for all Kimpton properties

Bottom line

I guess we should have seen the “hybrid” approach coming, as it’s the same thing IHG has done with InterContinental. I’d say the best possible outcome is if Kimpton can maintain it’s brand identity and offer some unique benefits to guest who frequent their properties, while still allowing IHG Rewards Club members to earn and redeem points for stays at Kimpton properties.

I’ll be curious to see how this is executed.

What are your predictions for the future of Kimpton Karma Rewards?

Comments

  1. Its yet another car crash for IHG at least on the program end.
    Is any program OUT THERE more dysfunctional than IHG Rewards?
    I’m scared to do business with them after reading about members who have had their accounts closed for signing up in promotions?
    Then Inter-Continental ignoring or down playing Platinum members based on them not being Ambassadors in their hotels? What good is CURRENT Platinum let alone this new uber tier over Platinum they are introducing
    Now yet another brand that will not be fully integrated like Inter-Continental ? What a clusterF!
    Yet another separate program like Ambassador in the most dysfunctional program ever introduced?
    I avoid them like a plague
    Then their recent survey is laughable asking about what marketing will be exciting for seeing the Kimpton brand adevertised
    Awe inspiring new ground has been broken with questions in the survey
    like would you stay at a Kimpton hotel and pay more if free wifi and a ten dollar bar credit was included?
    Heaven help the losers in marketing known as IHG almost or equally as bad as ACCOR
    Yikes

  2. IHG may not be the best hotel chain, but it just something you can’t avoid if you travel internationally.
    Often, I couldn’t find any Hyatt or SPG properties in my destination, even it is the capital of the country. Also, location matters. Hyatt hotels , often , is not located at the center of the city, which may cause inconvenience.
    Marriott are doing very good, though most of its properties are in U.S. , their new acquisitions could add a lot more destination into its global networks.
    As for IHG, I can almost find it everywhere in the world, no matter is Manuas Brazil, Grand Canyon, U.S. or middle of nowhere in Africa.

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