Intercontinental Hotels has had its own elite status program – the Ambassador program – separate from the rest of IHG. They use IHG for points, but not for elite benefits. Fortunately the new IHG One Rewards elite status gets recognized at Intercontinental properties.
The Ambassador program was a paid program, and you had to be a member to qualify for its invitation-only level Royal Ambassador. But when you made Royal Ambassador you used to get a referral certificate to gift the status to someone else.
And since the welcome kit came with the referral certificate, the referred member got a referral certificate. So frequent flyers just created referral chains. Once one person qualified once, the status lasted for a group more or less forever – until they stopped handing out these referral certificates.
This went on for years, and is how I lucked into being a Royal Ambassador. It involved a ‘guaranteed suite or executive room’ the specific upgrade policies varying by hotel, but I’d communicate in advance with a property to figure out what room to book to get the suite I wanted. I’d even confirm they would upgrade on friends and family rates and free weekend night certificates that came with the program. And it provided guaranteed early check-in, and the most coveted benefit of all – complimentary minibar.
When first becoming a Royal Ambassador there was a natural tendency to clear out the minibar. I did have a nice bar setup in my office in D.C. But after awhile you’re just grateful for water or orange juice.
The other status people used to play games with that comes to mind is a bit sketchier. Avis used to give its Chairmans status to people buying fractional jet time through MarquisJet. But the way they executed on this partnership was that MarquisJet provided a form that was faxed to Avis. So people photocopied the form and it made the rounds on FlyerTalk.
- This particular offer came with a 5 day free luxury rental after first rental
- And program benefits generally offered best car on the lot, vehicle delivery within 25 miles, and in-vehicle dropoff back at the terminal
The status, as I understand it, was supposed to last a year but Avis didn’t actually expire it. After many years some accounts got flagged and status removed, although rumor is there’s a few MarquisJet Chairmans Club members still out there.