Kimpton & IHG Loyalty Programs Likely To Merge In 2017

The past year is starting to feel like déjà vu on the hotel front, as the major hotel chains are merging much in the same way that the major carriers in the US have merged over the past decade:

I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some “activity” from Hilton or Hyatt soon, either.

Since the IHG merger was announced almost a year before the others, it’s sort of paving the way for how loyalty program mergers will work. Admittedly Kimpton isn’t to the same scale as Starwood when it comes to being taken over, but it’s interesting to follow the progress of the IHG and Kimpton merger nonetheless.

So far it seems to be business as usual for Kimpton, including for their Kimpton Karma Rewards program. The last major member update from Kimpton’s CEO came in June, which can basically be summed up as follows:

  • 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

Hotel-La-Jolla-Kimpton-17
Hotel La Jolla, a Kimpton property

Nearly six months later, there’s another update from Kimpton. The following email was just sent out to members, which outlines what we can expect over the coming months/years:

We know things have been a bit quiet on our end. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Our team has also been listening and we know you want more information. We get it. Here’s what you can expect in 2016:

  • Kimpton Karma Rewards will continue to serve as the loyalty program for Kimpton.
  • You’ll receive quarterly updates with details on how things are progressing as it relates to bringing the best of Karma Rewards & IHG Rewards Club together.
  • Your eligible 2016 Kimpton activity will accumulate toward your 2017 tier status, and your activity and any earned rewards will remain active.

So, looking ahead even further – what’s in store in 2017? For one, Kimpton will be going global, so get ready. Of course, we’ll also have more to share as it relates to marrying Kimpton Karma Rewards and IHG Rewards Club. The most important thing for you to know right now is that we’re evaluating everything through the lens of what will give you the absolute best experience and the greatest network of reward redemption.

To sum it up, Kimpton Karma Rewards will continue to exist in 2016, while in 2017 Kimpton Karma Rewards “will be going global,” and Kimpton Karma Rewards and IHG Rewards Club will be “married.”

Kimpton-InnerCircle-Welcome-Amenity
Hopefully Kimpton doesn’t lose their “special touch,” like personalized welcome amenities

Bottom line

The good news here is that members have another year of Kimpton Karma Rewards. The bad news is that after that I think it’s safe to assume that Kimpton Karma Rewards will be merged into IHG Rewards Club. That’s sort of sad because Kimpton has long had a unique program, while IHG relies more on their global footprint than their loyalty program to keep heads in beds.

Given the small and unique footprint of Kimpton, I’m still hopeful that they’ll offer some unique “extension” of the IHG Rewards Club program for Kimpton loyalists. It’s a small chain with a loyal following, and it would be a big mistake to not offer anything special to those members who go out of their way to be loyal.

The good news is that in 2017 it’ll presumably be possible to earn and redeem IHG Rewards Club points at Kimpton properties.

How do you feel about the “marrying” of IHG Rewards Club and Kimpton Karma Rewards?

Comments

  1. Ben:

    I’m just curious: do you think Hyatt and Hilton will merge given all of the other mergers? Or will One of them try to buy a niche brand like Viceroy?

    Thanks!

  2. @lucky
    I’m not usually a stickler for details, but, Kimpton’s CEO did NOT send that message.
    It was sent by Maggie Lang, who is not a “he”, and she is the Sr. Director, Guest Marketing, like it says in the email.
    Just seems like kind of a careless oversight, like you couldn’t bother to read the whole (short) email.

  3. I don’t necessarily interpret the e-mail as Kimpton Karma being completely merged into IHG Rewards… We may end up seeing something similar to Intercontinental Ambassador/Royal Ambassador where points earning and redemption is tied into IHG Rewards, but with elite recognition completely separate.

  4. @ Ben — Is a match to Inner Circle still available to Hilton Diamond with just picture of card (no stay history)? If so, would said status match be good through 2016 (really makes no sense otherwise at this point in the year)? At this point in the life of the program, no reason not to go for a status match…

  5. Kimpton is sure taking their sweet time integrating into IHG although it’s not really a negative. Don’t think it will take Marriott and Starwood that long.

  6. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for posting. To answer your question, nope, Kimpton will not lose its special touches (like the welcome amenity you posted – who doesn’t like some good vino!?). We love treating our members to a great experience and fun surprises, and that will not change. Like I said in my email, there are great things to come in the near future and we really appreciate the continued loyalty to Kimpton. Happy Holidays!

    Maggie

  7. I was surprised that Accor Group bought Fairmont. I thought that the Langham Group out of Hong Kong would try buying up the Fairmont. Maybe they didn’t have the juice for the larger deal. Langham is redeveloping or selling off its huge Toronto Chelsea Property ( more than 1600 rooms very central), at least they are proposing a redevlopment and seeking permits that would – at the very least – secure air space. Sorry but Accor product does not work well for me in North America.

  8. I’ve got a friend who works in management at Hyatt Group and he says as of the moment, there aren’t any plans to sell or buy. But you never know, something might change.

  9. I’m a Kimpton fan. I love that Kimpton is dog friendly, has personality, and they have a great rewards program with those free nights on new properties which I thought was very cool. It IS starting to feel like deja vu and I don’t think it’s a good thing for us. This does make me more interested in IHG though.

  10. Dog friendly is an understatement. Kiloton is head and shoulders over all of their competitors. Their policy won y business.

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