An Update to Kimpton’s Loyalty Program

If you are or know a Kimpton Karma fan, you know they are a big fan of their loyalty program. In fact, in my experience, I’ve never met anyone not happy with Kimpton – they’re that good. While Kimpton’s property footprint is only based within the U.S., and really only within “major” cities, they offer a wealth of rewards, benefits and free-night opportunities. If Kimpton were international, they’d be my go-to brand.

One of the most concerning thing for Kimpton fans is the buy-out from IHG. While IHGs program can provide value, the fact that the top-tier status can be earned by their co-branded credit card does seem to decrease whatever great value might be there to some degree. While both programs offer their own benefits, it’s pretty safe to say Kimpton does a better job of what they provide. So, merging the two programs creates quite a scare for us Inner Circle members who are used to terrific service, constant upgrades, outstanding welcome amenities and more.

Kimpton CEO Mike DeFrino has spoken out about this very thing:

Where has the time gone? It’s June already and it feels like just yesterday we announced our acquisition by IHG. We have been steadily working with our new family at IHG to identify ways to bring the best of both worlds together. We remain firmly committed to our guests and to continuing to innovate for you. We are excited by the many growth opportunities ahead of us and also remain focused on maintaining our unique Kimpton DNA as we grow with IHG. Throughout this process, we have explored every part of our business with loyalty being a top focus. We think we have a pretty compelling opportunity with the IHG Rewards Club and continue to explore how to best bring these two programs together – keeping Kimpton Karma as unique as it is and also giving you the ability to tap into the rich IHG Rewards Club perks.
And, as always, we’re listening. We’ve begun conducting surveys and focus groups to gather your feedback and learn more about what you want (or don’t want!). As you can imagine, it will take time to build and implement, but your insight is imperative. Over the course of the next year you should start to see some of your feedback put into action as we roll out loyalty enhancements in phases. We will certainly keep you updated on our progress, but please be assured; we have good things in store!
Beyond Kimpton Karma remaining as a unique IHG Rewards Club program extension, I’m also happy to share that Kimpton as a whole will remain as it is and, in fact, our home office is staying put right here in our home town of San Francisco. IHG recognizes that the Bay Area is a great source of inspiration for us, allowing us to be on the cutting edge and continue to innovate around your guest experience. If you’re wondering what else is staying the same and what is changing, I can tell you that we’re changing in numbers and adding some really exciting new cities to our portfolio, like Austin, Winston-Salem, Nashville, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Palm Springs and Grand Cayman and have a really healthy pipeline of new hotels.
It’s an exciting time in Kimpton’s history, but we would be nowhere without our loyal guests and members. You all helped us build Kimpton to the special brand we all love working for and you enjoy staying with. Thank you so much for your continued loyalty!

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There are sever takeaways and thoughts I have:

  • It looks as if they are indeed combining loyalty programs. There was speculation (eh, hope) that the two would remain separate, but I get the vibe from this email that both are joining forces.
  • I get scared anytime I hear the word “enhancement.” When an airline enhances something, they’re usually cutting costs while somehow providing a positive PR spin.
  • I do feel good, though, about Kimpton trying to put their best foot forward here. Like American Airlines, I think they’ve seen the mistakes other hotel chains and airlines make in not providing timely, open information. I’m appreciative of Kimpton keeping us abreast, and I trust that they’ll at least be a voice for the positive, though that doesn’t mean I can’t worry. 😉
  • I find it interesting Kimpton is keeping their corporate headquarters and such. While most other hotel brands are housed in the main chain headquarters, IHG seems to be treating Kimpton as separate, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Let Kimpton do what they do best.

What do you think will happen with the Kimpton Karma loyalty program?

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