Last year, I wrote about a fantastic promotion that InterContinental Hotels Group launched for residents of India, called India Free Nights. The promotion was simple, for every 3 nights you spent at an IHG property in India, you got one free night redeemable anywhere in the world. The deadline to earn these free nights was April 30, 2015
Fast forward to 2015, and between me and my wife, we earned 3 of these free nights. The deadline to make a stay with these free nights was the end of December 2015. It was an electronic system to redeem, so basically I could log into my account, search for the dates and property, and book up a free night. Over in the USA, IHG issued similar free nights to its co-branded card holders, and they have a great run redeeming it for luxury hotels around the world.
However, on trying to redeem the free night, I would perpetually get not available for most dates whenever I tried for a prominent city in the IHG coverage, apart from their Indian hotels. Take this example, where there are tonnes of redemption nights available, but only sporadic nights available for India Free Nights.
Using the India Free night at an Indian IHG hotel was never a part of the plan, because I can pay for those hotels and get a decent rate anyways. So I reached out to IHG to vent my frustration, and after much push and shove, they escalated my complaint to the Executive Office of IHG. They wrote back to me and stated that the terms of the offer clearly stated that redemptions were on a first-come-first-serve basis.
I apologize you have not yet been able to use the two Free Nights earned. I have confirmed that the Free Nights are redeemed on a first-come and first-served basis as advised in the Conditions of the India Free Night (http://www.ihg.com/hotels/gb/en/global/offers/hotel/india-free-nights?cm_mmc=OSMAE-6C-AMEA-EN-indiafreenights_vanity).
Further, however, I got this non-committal response:
However, I would like to assist you in using your Free Nights, if possible. Please let me know what dates and hotel you are interested in and I would contact the hotel management to ask if they would increase availability beyond what has already been reserved.
Eventually, after a couple of email exchanges, the executive office liaison who was handling my case, decided that the only way to get me what I required was to nullify my free nights and issue me points to get my reservations made.
As the ____ Hotel has already used up its Free Nights for ___ to ___, I’ve instead issued 100,000 Rewards Club points to your account as a goodwill gesture and booked you confirmation # xxxxxxx using Reward Nights instead. I’ve also deactivated your two Free Nights from your account and sent you an email confirmation for your upcoming reservation.
Talk about jugaad anyone?
Anybody else from my Indian readerbase was able to use their India Free Nights? If yes, where did you redeem them? If no, what problems are you facing?