Priority Club: so far, a frustrating loyalty scheme

Priority Club is a loyalty scheme for hotels including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and others. So far, my experience has been frustrating.

I joined around a year ago because I sometimes stay at Holiday Inn properties. The other day I finally got around to making sure all my previous stays were listed on my account and earning loyalty points. It turns out that most of my stays aren’t eligible. Some loyalty.

First of all, they rejected one stay because it was back in July 2010. “The Terms and Conditions of the Priority Club® program states that adjustments to accounts will not be made more than 60 days after the statement date,” they emailed. Yet their website allows you to go to the effort of entering claims going back a year. And then have them rejected.

“As an additional courtesy to our members, we will try to research stays up to six months past the current date (rather than the statement date) for possible credit,” their email also said. “Unfortunately, the stay in Potts Point, Australia in July 2010 does not fall within these guidelines and is ineligible for credit.”

So it’s either 60 days or 6 months, depending on their… mood? I’m confused.

I emailed Priority Club to say this was… Well, I said, “Gee thanks. That really makes me feel welcome and that it was worth my time doing the paperwork.” Their reply said that the reason the July 2010 stay wasn’t eligible because it was too cheap. “You did not earn credits from the said stay as the room rate was steeply discounted,” the wrote. Indeed, it was a cheap Secret Hotel deal, where you only find out the name of the hotel once you’ve booked so their brand doesn’t get publicly associated with cheapness.

In order to get credit for your stay in any of our hotel chains, you must pay a qualifying rate. Qualifying rates include the Corporate Rate/Flex Rate, Best Breaks, Great Rates, AAA Rate, AARP Rate, Government Rates. The rates (including the 21-day advance purchase, weekend web savers and internet saver rate) offer a discount of up to 60% but also carry coding which automatically earns Priority Club credit.

On the other hand, the non-qualifying rates include the Industry Discount, Employee Discount, Internet Rate (third party website or pre-paid channel), Entertainment Rate, etc. Priority Club® Rewards does not issue credit for room rates that are discounted more than 30% off the hotel’s regular room rate.

So there you have it. Now I’m both disappointed and confused. Like who the hell pays full rates for hotels?

A final irritation was the mismatch between Priority Club’s friendly application form and the clumsy bureaucratese of their emails. That’s hardly unique to them, of course. So many businesses only apply the Magic Make-It-Clear-And-Interesting Communications Stick to marketing materials, not their routine workflow communications that customers end up seeing far more frequently. But it didn’t help.