5 Things I Love About The New Shangri-La Circle Program

Shangri-La has relaunched its loyalty program. They’re revamping both how elite status is earned along with its benefits, introducing consistent and flexible redemption value, and rebranding the program.

Most of all they’re improving benefits, introducing a new way to earn and spend currency both when you’re staying with the chain and when you aren’t (even counting online purchases with them towards elite status) and offering perks for their invitation-only elite tier that are unmatched in the hotel industry.

Here are the 5 things I like most about the program:

  1. Use a small number of points for a redemption I’ve made no secret on the blog about my love of award charts, but Shangri-La is a chain I’d love to visit more but that I won’t spend nights with enough to accumulate large points balances. Their new program lets you spend as little as one point to pay for things at a hotel. You’ll never ‘strand’ points in the program, and the rebate value matches what you’ll find elsewhere. So you can pick a Shangri-La hotel for the experience without giving up rewards, even if you live in North America like I do and don’t stay with them all the time.

  2. Early check-in, even for first-tier elite members There’s nothing worse than getting off of a long flight and not having a room, but it is complicated and expensive to reserve the night before you’re actually arriving just to ensure you’ll be able to check in and take a shower and rest. Late check out is great, and that’s an elite benefit of Shangri-La Circle as well, but more programs should consider taking care of guests with early check-in which is just as often what they need most.

  3. Seamless experience from touchdown to departure for VIP guests. jetbridge meet-and-greet, airport transfers. Polaris members can even use hotel facilities when they aren’t registered as a guest. What Shangri-La understands is that their best customers are valuable to them – they are valuable, not merely their check-in status.

  4. Club lounge access for Diamond members Most hotel chains see club lounge and restaurant breakfast as interchangeable but this is a separate benefit from breakfast, which is something offered at the Jade level. That’s because Shangri-La club lounges aren’t what you might think of coming from the U.S. They’re exclusive spaces with sit down dining off a menu.

  5. Status match Shangri-La has status match relationships with Taj Hotels and Singapore Airlines, and a Shangri-La Diamond can fast track to Star Alliance Gold (and concomitant lounge access). Meanwhile Singapore Gold – which many readers have earned with the generous KrisFlyer transfer bonus over the past year – gets you Shangri-La Jade status after one stay.

There’s a common theme in all of this: taking care of guests, whether they’re infrequent (through use of small points to make stays better) to the most frequent (who have a truly seamless experience, and extending out into their air travel and not just hotels). That’s what I value most in a hotel chain, and something that I think all of them can aspire to. The new Shangri-La Circle, then, makes a nice leap forward.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’d be interested to know the distribution of their membership by region and at what levels. Obviously, this is an APAC-based clientele, but I’m sure there are AMER-based individuals. Would it be enough for a card, and how would that be structured?

  2. Hi Gary, this is all correct but I do think your recent coverage overlooked the massive devaluation of instant rewards through the dining program: A jade member currently gets 1.25 usd per 10 points, which will be go to 0.66 usd from April.

    Just as we all need to burn Marriott points right now, it’s the same with Shangri-la


  3. I agree! There are some downsides to the changes (there always are) and this is the big one. Overall I like the refresh but there’s a sweet spot that they eliminated in the process.

  4. Shangri-la Circle’s rewards “benefits” are a scam.

    For you to avail of the room guarantee benefit for jade members, for example.. The hotel needs to be completely fully booked, including suites and other rooms. (I have emails to prove), Most likely other benefits has similar outlandish requirement as well.

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