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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.