The IHG Rewards Club hotel loyalty programme has announced the addition of a new top membership tier and, at the same time, is to focus on more personalised experiences for its 84 million members worldwide. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The hotel group's own '2015 Trends Report' showed that consumers are looking for more than an effortless transaction with their chosen brands: They want a rewarding relationship built on trust and respond best to efforts focused on building real brand loyalty over a sustained period of time.

Following extensive research into what members want from their loyalty programmes, IHG Rewards Club is to introduce a new membership level to better reward its most loyal members with the most relevant benefits.

The research also revealed the importance of recognition to members who want to feel rewarded for loyalty. In response, IHG is to enhance its ability to deliver a personalised experience for members before, during and after their stayd. Through personalising this experience, the member will feel valued, understood and this in turn builds trust.

Susanna Freer Epstein, SVP Customer Loyalty Marketing, IHG, said: "Our research shows us that members are looking for a personalised experience when they choose one of our family of brands - before, during and after their stay. We want to thank our members for their loyalty by responding to this at every stage of the guest journey, offering experiences that are personally relevant. And we want to say a special thank you to our most loyal members through the introduction of a new top membership level. These enhancements are just the start of a number of exciting new improvements we will be making to the programme in the coming months."

IHG Rewards Club will evolve over 2015 and 2016 initially in the following ways:

  • Introducing a new top membership level in July 2015. This new membership level can be reached by earning 75,000 qualifying points or staying at IHG hotels for 75 qualifying nights, over the course of a year. IHG Rewards Club will offer its most loyal members in this new membership level 100% extra bonus points on qualifying stays. Members of this newest level will also be able to choose between receiving 25,000 points or upgrading a friend or family member to Platinum.
  • The qualification requirements for all membership levels have been restructured to make it easier for members to be rewarded for their loyalty. Club members will need to earn just 10,000 qualifying points or stay for ten qualifying nights to be eligible for Gold membership. Gold members will need to earn 40,000 qualifying points or stay for 40 qualifying nights to reach Platinum membership.
  • IHG is enhancing its ability to learn about members and then utilize this information through a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This system will enable hotels to respond to members' preferences at every stage of the guest journey and offer services and experiences that are personally relevant to them. From recognizing stay preferences such as room location or pillow type and tailoring their booking options, to relevant post stay offers.
  • Starting from May 2016, IHG will expire all points for IHG Rewards Club Members if they have not earned or redeemed any points at all in the previous 12 months. IHG Rewards Club members will continue to maintain their point balances simply by completing a qualifying stay at one of IHG's 4,800 hotels or redeeming some of their existing points during a membership year.

All members will continue to have access to existing benefits of the programme including free guest internet access, value-priced Reward Nights with no blackout dates, no cancellation penalties, access to the global reward redemption catalogue, as well as digital benefits such as mobile check-ins.