The single best hotel program that you’ve never heard of may have been Kimpton Karma Rewards, the loyalty program for Kimpton Hotels. Kimpton was a network of boutique hotels known for their funky properties and dedication to customer service. If you’ve ever heard one of those stories about a hotel fulfilling outrageous requests (Read this thread to see what happened when one customer requested a Jack Russell Terrier.), there’s a good chance that it was a Kimpton property.
Karma Rewards offered easy elite status (Only 14 stays per year got you Inner Circle, the top tier.) that came with some great benefits. Everybody could get the basic benefits, which included a $10 credit for the bar and the minibar, while those who hit Inner Circle got unique offers like free nights at new properties and direct access to the CEO. I don’t see Hilton doing that.
Naturally, it couldn’t last and Intercontinental, which bought Kimpton a few years ago, has finally folded in the Karma Rewards program to its own IHG Rewards.
Look, it’s not all bad. Kimpton fans will have that many more options to choose from and, well, that’s about the only good thing.
There’s a big downside at the top of the elite benefits. Starting in the 2018 calendar year (for 2019 and beyond), the Inner Circle status that you had previously gotten with 14 stays or 40 nights becomes much more difficult, requiring not only Intercontinental Spire status (75,000 points or 75 nights at Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, etc. properties) but also an actual invitation to Inner Circle. And what do you need to do to get that invitation? Hmm, don’t call them, they’ll call you if you qualify.
I’m really hoping that Kimpton can find a way to maintain its unique culture but, as the parent company plays an increasing role in operations, I am nervous about the future.
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