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It’s been nearly three years since Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) acquired Kimpton Hotels, but in all that time, the two loyalty programs have remained separate entities. In 2015 the Kimpton CEO said that the companies would “explore how to best bring these two programs together,” and an email to Kimpton members later that same year hinted that things could change in 2017. But since then we haven’t had any further word on the matter.
Until now. On Friday morning, IHG announced that starting in early 2018, Kimpton Karma Rewards will be folded into IHG Rewards, uniting everything under one loyalty program. When the transition occurs, all Kimpton members will be automatically enrolled in IHG Rewards, and Kimpton hotels will become available for award bookings with IHG points.
The conversion of existing Kimpton member accounts to IHG is somewhat complicated by the fact that Kimpton Karma Rewards is not a points-based system. Instead, members earn a free night based on 7 eligible stays or 20 eligible nights. Therefore, IHG will convert existing Kimpton earned nights accrued as of December 31, 2017, to IHG points based on the following schedule:
|Kimpton Karma members with…||Will receive…|
|Tier 1 basic status||1,000 IHG points per earned night|
|Tier 2 status
Tier 3 status
Inner Circle status
|2,000 IHG points per earned night|
Basic IHG members earn 10 points per dollar spent at most of the company’s brands, except for Staybridge and Candlewood Suites, where members earn 5 points per dollar. So the conversion is effectively valuing the existing earned Kimpton nights as if they had cost $100 each, which seems low for Kimpton hotels. IHG elite members currently get a 10%-100% point bonus on dollars spent depending on their status, so 2,000 points per earned night might make a little more sense for Kimpton Tier 2 and Tier 3 members, though Inner Circle members are getting the same $100 value as they would if they were top-tier elites at IHG.
Speaking of which, Kimpton elite tiers will map to IHG Rewards tiers in pretty much the manner you’d expect:
|Kimpton Karma Rewards Elite Tier||IHG Rewards Elite Tier|
|Tier 2||Gold Elite|
|Tier 3||Platinum Elite|
|Inner Circle||Spire Elite (but will also keep Inner Circle)|
An interesting note here is that Kimpton’s top-tier Inner Circle status will continue to exist at Kimpton hotels as an invite-only status, and existing Inner Circle members will be grandfathered in for 2018. So if you’re Inner Circle, you’ll get both Inner Circle and Spire Elite status, at least for the next year. However, the same doesn’t happen in reverse — existing IHG Spire Elites do not automatically get Inner Circle status.
For all tier levels, existing Karma Free Night Rewards will be converted to IHG Rewards Nights and will remain valid in members’ new accounts with existing expiration dates. Future stays at Kimptons will earn 10 IHG points per dollar spent for all IHG members like most of the other chains in the portfolio, with the usual bonus points for elites. On the redemption side, award nights at Kimpton properties will be available online with no blackout dates, both of which were longstanding complaints about the old program.
In an interview with The Points Guy, Kathleen Reidenbach, the Chief Commercial Officer at Kimpton, emphasized that the company is aware that even basic Kimpton members have historically enjoyed some special perks as part of the Karma Rewards program, and the company wanted to retain that. The popular $30 spa credit and the “Raid the Bar” perk — which provides one $10 credit ($15 in New York City) to spend at either the restaurant bar or the in-room honor bar — “will remain part of the experience,” said Reidenbach, with the spa credit available to all loyalty program members when staying at a Kimpton hotel and “Raid the Bar” to Gold elites and above.
We’re certainly happy to finally see Kimpton come under the IHG Rewards umbrella, as there are some great premium Kimpton properties among the brand’s 60+ hotels. It’s also nice that some of the special Kimpton perks will remain. The only major downside is that the conversion rate for previously earned Kimpton nights seems pretty weak, but at least that’s only a one-time event. In any case, we’re definitely looking forward to being able to redeem IHG awards at Kimpton properties starting in 2018 and in the years to come.
Featured image of the Mason & Rook hotel by Kimpton.
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