InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has added a new elite membership tier called 'Spire Elite' to its IHG Rewards Club frequent guest loyalty programme, aiming to recognise and reward the programme's most loyal and most valuable customers. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

With immediate effect, IHG Rewards Club will reward its most loyal members with more relevant benefits, following extensive research into what programme members want from the programme. The study identified the importance of recognition to members who want to feel rewarded for their loyalty, and the introduction of Spire Elite places recognition at the heart of the relationship IHG has with its most valued guests.

Spire Elite membership can be reached by earning 75,000 qualifying reward points or staying at an IHG hotel for 75 qualifying nights, over the course of a calendar year. Including the ability to earn 100% extra bonus points on qualifying stays, Spire Elite members 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 IHG Rewards Club membership levels have also been restructured to make it easier for members to be rewarded for their loyalty. From July 2015, members will need to earn only 10,000 qualifying points or stay for 10 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.

The company's research into members' preferences revealed that the key ways in which they want hospitality brands to show them recognition include:

  • Providing the chance to feel part of a special club
  • Identifying a guest as someone unique, who is "not just a number"
  • Remembering something about the individual; their likes, dislikes and preferences
  • Providing a reward, a "thank you" for achieving something

As part of the launch of Spire Elite, IHG Rewards Club has also relaunched its Rewarding Experiences digital hub to showcase the experiences available to IHG Rewards Club members all over the world and across all four IHG Rewards Club membership tiers.

The name 'Spire' - apart from conjuring up images of lofty heights and impressive architecture - was actually derived from the old English word 'spir' - a shoot or a stalk of grass standing out amongst the others. According to IHG the name is intended to convey a sense of dedication and an aspirational attitude: going above and beyond. The name was also chosen for its connotations of prestige, elevated stature, and worthiness of admiration - which is how IHG Rewards Club says it views members who qualify for the new tier.

IHG Rewards Club currently claims nearly 86 million members worldwide.