Monday, August 24, 2015

IHG Accelerate Q4 Promotion

While we normally stay at Starwood in an attempt to re-qualify for Platinum status, it looks like we'll lock up 25 SPG stays later this week, so we can "cheat" on our Starwood if the stars lined up. And it looks like they have.

This morning, IHG announced their new promotion for the Fall 2015 called Accelerate. Similar to prior promotions, they have it set up as a sort of scavenger hunt where you have to complete a series of discrete tasks with a bonus if you complete a certain number of them. We leveraged their Big Win promotion back in 2013 when we stayed at the Intercontinental San Juan and earned tons of IHG points.

When my mother logged into her Accelerate offer, we found she was given the following tasks:

(1) Stay Once - 1 night for 5,000 points
(2) Stay More - 5 nights for 6,800 points
(3) Book 1 Bonus Points Package - 2,000 points
(4) Pay for a stay on IHG Credit Card - 1,500 points
Achievement Bonus - Complete 3 of 4 tasks - 34,700 points.

Nothing seemed that difficult, but the most compelling feature was that items #1, 3 and 4 could all be accomplished simultaneously with a single stay! For that single night stay, she could earn 8,500 promotional points (in addition to whatever points she would earn for the stay itself). But since her Achievement Bonus was 34,700 points for hitting 3 of the 4 tasks, we'd earn that too! Total promotional points would be 43,200 points (worth between $302-432 in value to my family).

Now we just had to find a cheap IHG hotel that we'd want to stay in. Ideally, it would be for a trip that we already had planned and would be priced comparably to our best Starwood option. We had two trips coming up in October - Phoenix and Chicago.

Both cities had PLENTY of IHG hotels, especially the lower priced Holiday Inn brands. However, since my father likes to impose the additional constraint of limiting the additional $ spend for these sorts of points-generating activities, we didn't want to overpay too much. After all, spending $100 more than the best Starwood hotel option might not be worth the privilege of earning IHG bonus points. Then we'd just be buying those points for the premium we're paying in cash.

So when we looked at prices for Phoenix, we had one night we could swap out our existing Aloft Phoenix stay for, but cheapest Holiday Inn price for a Bonus Points Package was around $150 after taxes. That compared unfavorably to the Aloft Phoenix which we were getting for just 3,000 SPG points (which we valued at $75). Not ideal.

Then we looked at Chicago. Our existing booking was at the Westin in Itasca that we stayed at earlier this year. We had a great upgrade to a massive corner suite and they also had an indoor swimming pool. However, it was located a bit further from our friends than we'd prefer (about 20 minutes), so we looked at some IHG hotels closer to our friends.

As it turned out, we found a recently renovated Holiday Inn Express located just 5 minutes away for $115 including taxes for the Bonus Points Package. That compared pretty favorably to the $97 rate (after tax) we had at the Westin Itasca. An $18 upcharge is a modest price to pay for 43,200 IHG points.

Of course, a Westin is a full service hotel versus a limited service Holiday Inn Express, so if it weren't for this promotion, we'd definitely go with the Westin (especially since we'd have Platinum status benefits).

But all guests get free internet and breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express, and maybe we'd even an upgrade for having IHG Platinum status. We're not expecting to be amazed, but hopefully we won't be regretting the switch hotels either.

Worst case, we're still going to stay the second night of our Chicago trip at the Westin. Besides, we don't really plan to be in the hotel for much anyway!

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