"We're offering to replace their lost Hilton HHonours points with IHG Priority Club points, giving them the opportunity to stay for free at any one of our 4,400 hotels around the world," said Tom Seddon, chief marketing officer, IHG.
"If you want your loyal customers to stick with you during tough times, it's vital to show you appreciate them and give them more value, not less. So it's no wonder there was such a negative reaction to Hilton devaluing their points programme."
The IHG Priority Club Rewards member who has the highest-verified Hilton HHonours points balance will be declared the "Luckiest Loser" and be awarded two million Priority Club points, which will be enough to redeem for about 80 free hotel nights at more than 4,000 of IHG's hotels worldwide.
Another 20,000 "Lucky Losers" will be awarded up to 400m Priortity Club points to help compensate for what they are losing with Hilton HHonours.
Hilton reacted to IHG's action by saying that the HHonours programme is doing better than ever and has recently surpassed 25 million members.
"More than two million new members joined the HHonours programme in 2009 representing the largest enrollment year in the programme's history," said Jeff Diskin, senior vice president, global customer marketing, Hilton.
"Hilton HHonours members made up the highest percentage of occupied room nights ever in the months of November and December 2009."
Diskin added that Hilton HHonours is the only programme in the hotel industry to offer its members both hotel points and airline miles for the same hotel stay. In 2009 Hilton HHonours rewarded members with 13% more free nights than in 2008 at 3,500 participating hotels - a total of 3.5m nights throughout the year or almost 10,000 per day.
To enter the draw, which runs until 28 February 2010, IHG say participants must have been registered Priority Club Rewards members by 31 January 2010. Further details are available at: www.priorityclub.com/luckiestloser
Hotel branding >> By Janet Harmer
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