My first experience with IHG promotions was the “Surprises” deal when we wrote out 188 index cards to earn bonus points. I then learned about the IHG PointBreaks promotion by reading my favorite travel blogs. IHG used to publish a list of hotels every 3 months that were available for 5,000 points a night. This promotion was often used by bloggers to make the claim you could get 20 free IHG nights when signing up for the IHG co-brand credit card and its 100,000 points sign up bonus. While this was technically true if you booked for only hotels on the PointBreaks list (100,000 / 5,000 = 20), the possibility of doing that was very small.
Even though I knew that I would unlikely be able to use any of the hotels offered, I always looked at the list. Once, I was able to book a Candlewood Suites in El Paso, TX for 5,000 points for a stay before an early morning flight.
Then everything changed.
In January 2018, IHG announced adjustments to the PointBreaks promotion. Instead of offering all rooms for 5,000 points a night, there were now three tiers of hotels ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 points a night. At the time, I was hopeful that increasing the point levels would lead to there being hotels on the list where I’d want to stay.
For the first few hotel lists, I held out hope but it wasn’t promising. After a year of disappointing offers, I broke up with IHG PointBreaks at the end of 2018. I just wasn’t looking to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in New Brunswick, NJ with my IHG points.
The PointBreaks promotion has continued on, but I’m no longer paying attention and neither are other bloggers. While a look at the preview list of PointBreaks hotels used to be big news, the release of the entire list is now barely mentioned.
Apparently, we haven’t been the only ones to notice that the PointBreaks offers aren’t getting the buzz they used to. In fact, IHG has started promoting its promotion for the first time ever. Loyalty Lobby wrote about how IHG sent an email to members in Australia, New Zealand and Japan about the hotels that are available at a reduced price.
I don’t know about you, but if the promotion that used to sell out just on word of mouth is now an offer where you need to push to your members, that’s a big red flag that something’s wrong. Maybe it’s that you’ve removed every hotel from the list that could be perceived as a great deal and replaced them by locations where no one wants to stay, while subsequently increasing the price required for a free night.
Obviously, IHG has noticed the PointBreaks hotels aren’t the draw they used to be. There was never a need to advertise the hotels available at reduced prices before. In fact, IHG previously had to limit the number of reservations you were able to book with PointBreaks rates due to the popularity of the program.
The combination of increasing the points needed to book all but the cheapest IHG hotels and not offering any hotels that were the least bit interesting to stay at has destroyed the value of the PointBreaks promotion.
Between this and the devaluation of the IHG Accelerate promo, it seems like IHG feels there’s no need for great promotions at the present time. Hotels are filling up with a combination of business and leisure travelers, so gone are the days of rooms at Intercontinental Hotels for 5,000 points a night.
If you’re interested in seeing the current list of IHG PointBreaks hotels, they can be found here. The 5,000 points hotel list consists of 3 hotels in Texas, 1 in Brazil, 1 in Turkey and 4 in China. Woo!!! (not)
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary