Taj InnerCircle Membership Update: Programme changes on Oct 16, 2019

Taj InnerCircle, the loyalty programme of the Taj Group, is setting up some new changes to the programme on October 16, 2019, onwards.

As a recap,  Taj InnerCircle made a massive move in June 2015, setting up a Platinum Tier in the programme, introducing night counts as a way to qualify, and an introduction of a dynamic award chart to the programme. In 2017, they made some modest changes, increasing the number of rooms you can credit to one account to 5 from the earlier one. Now, in their two yearly cycles, it is time for your Taj InnerCircle Membership to change terms and the new terms go in effect tomorrow.

Taj InnerCircle Membership

Taj InnerCircle calls the new changes as evolvingThe new changes coming to Taj InnerCircle are almost all really a simplification of the programme, so I don’t think they really change how the programme operates, but they do simplify the programme. Let’s go over them one by one.


Taj InnerCircle is moving to a simplified TajInnerCircle (TIC) Points

In the earlier version of the programme, there were various values set to the earn and burn of the points. The Taj InnerCircle points, which were earned with the stays earlier, used to be of INR 5 value in the dynamic award chart of Taj InnerCircle for stay redemptions, and INR 4 value for everything else. The earlier earning value for spend ex-taxes was stated as:

  • Copper Tier: 1 Point/INR 125 (4%)
  • Silver Tier: 1 Point/INR 100 (5%)
  • Gold Tier: 1 Point/INR 70 (7.14%)
  • Platinum Tier: 1 Point/INR 60 (8.33%)

Taj InnerCircle is now making the value of each TIC point INR 1, with effect from October 16, 2019, onwards, so in effect, the new earning will be like this:

  • Copper Tier: 4 Points/INR 100 (4%)
  • Silver Tier: 5 Points/INR 100 (5%)
  • Gold Tier: 7 Points/INR 100 (7%)
  • Platinum Tier: 8 Points/INR 100 (8%)

All the older points will be converted as 1 Old TIC point = five new TIC points on October 16, 2019.

The Taj InnerCircle Epicure programme, the dining programme, used to give Epicure points each worth INR 10. Now, come October 16, 2019, onwards, the Epicure points will also be folded up into the Taj InnerCircle points, with each of the Epicure points getting converted into 10 TIC points on October 16, 2019. In terms of new earnings, here on, you will earn 25 TIC points/INR 100 from October 16, 2019, onwards, which retains the 25% earnings like earlier.


TIC Points Redemption value at INR 1 across the board

Earlier, the point redemption value used to be different as per the use case, as determined by this chart from an earlier release of Taj InnerCircle. Incidentals got a lesser value, and the gift vouchers an even lower value and so on.

Now on, TIC points will be valued at INR 1 when redeemed for the room, restaurant, bar, spa, eligible incidental spent at participating hotels, Taj Holidays or Taj Experiences Gift Cards.


New Taj Club Room Upgrade Vouchers

Taj Gold & Platinum members get upgrade vouchers every year, with the Gold members getting 20 upgrades every year and Platinum Members getting an unlimited number of upgrade vouchers for an upgrade to the next category of rooms, up to a standard suite. But apart from that, now, each year, these members will also be issued upgrade vouchers for Taj Club Rooms. Each of these vouchers gets the members Taj Club room stays for up to 5 nights.

  • Four vouchers for Platinum Members
  • Two vouchers for Gold Members

More brands earning Taj points

In the earlier version of the programme, the Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta and Gateway hotels used to count for eligible spends. In the new version, Ama Stays & Trails will also be included for earning.


Some of the cutbacks included in the fine print seem to be the inclusion of Friends and Family Rates in the ineligible rates for earning TIC points and status. Also, any member sho does not have one earning or redemption transactions at a Taj property will be considered as an inactive member and their points will be forfeited. The transaction types counting towards member active status as part of the programme changes will be considered from October 16, 2019, onwards and will not be considered with retrospective effect. Taj explains with the following examples:

  • Example scenario 1: If a member has had an eligible room night stay on October 20, 2018, and a points eligible spend at a spa on December 15, 2018, with no further transactions till October 20, 2019, then member will be considered active till October 19, 2019 and accumulated TIC points will expire on October 19, 2019.
  • Example scenario 2: If a member has had an eligible room night stay on October 20, 2018, and a point eligible spend at a spa on October 17, 2019, then the member will be considered active till October 16, 2020.

Taj InnerCircle used to also offer three experiences per year to Platinum members, which has been discontinued from August 1, 2019, onwards.


Bottomline

It seems like the changes are a lot of housekeeping and simplification, and I’ve read the old terms and conditions of the programme and the new ones cover to cover. I would say it is a good thing that Taj did not tinker anything else in the programme anymore. What I don’t like is the fact that Taj did not give an advance notice via email about these changes.

What do you make of the changes to the Taj InnerCircle Programme and the Epicure programme?


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