In September 2019, IHG announced a potentially interesting partnership, which could greatly increase its portfolio of luxury hotels. This was supposed to launch in early 2020, but ended up being delayed due to coronavirus — well, there’s finally an update on this front.
IHG’s new partnership with Mr. & Mrs. Smith
IHG is launching a partnership with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which will more than double the number of luxury and boutique hotels available to IHG Rewards Club members. It will complement Six Senses, Regent, InterContinental, Kimpton, and Hotel Indigo.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith also has properties in 11 countries where IHG doesn’t have a presence, including Belize, Iceland, Mozambique, Myanmar, and more.
IHG recently acquired Six Senses
For those of you not familiar with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the company describes itself as a “travel club and boutique hotel specialist.” The way I view it, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is essentially a luxury travel agency that has marketed itself really well. Now it has an exclusive loyalty partnership with IHG.
With this partnership, IHG Rewards Club members will be able to earn and redeem points at over 400 Mr. and Mrs. Smith hotels when booking through IHG’s direct channels, including the website and app.
We now have a new timeline for this happening:
- As of today, 5-10 Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties will roll out on ihg.com as a test, to work out any kinks
- By the end of October, the first 100 Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties will be bookable through IHG
- New hotels will be added every week, and by the end of November, all 400+ Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties will be bookable through IHG
Here are just a few examples of Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties that IHG Rewards Club members will have access to:
IHG Rewards Club members will be able to earn and redeem points across hundreds of luxury and boutique hotels around the world, including some of Smith’s most seductive stays, such as Jasper Conran’s self-styled riad hideaway L’Hôtel Marrakech, 18th-century organic Tuscan estate Borgo Pignano, high-in-the-Himalayas retreat The Kumaon and the charming Old Rectory on South Africa’s famed Garden Route.
Should we be excited about this partnership?
IHG and Mr. & Mrs. Smith are essentially forming a marketing partnership here. This is similar to the partnership that Hyatt has with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and the partnership that Marriott has with Design Hotels (which it inherited from Starwood).
Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn’t manage any hotels, but rather gets a commission when people book through the company.
Presumably with this new partnership, IHG will be getting some of the commission that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is usually getting. I would assume that commission is usually around 10-15%, or maybe in some cases even higher given the influence it has. In turn, presumably Mr. and Mrs. Smith is giving IHG some of that commission.
So, should we be excited about this partnership? Maybe.
The points earning potential
On the points earning front, this means it will be possible to earn IHG points for some hotels that you couldn’t previously earn points with:
- IHG Rewards Club members will earn 10 points per dollar spent
- IHG Reward Club elite members will be eligible to earn their tier bonuses at these properties
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties won’t otherwise be eligible for IHG Rewards Club promotions
Mr. & Mrs. Smith has over 1,400 hotels, though only 400+ of them will participate in this partnership.
Partner Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties include Amans, Singitas, and many more incredible luxury brands. Whether or not those hotels actually participate in this partnership remains to be seen.
It might be possible to earn IHG points at Singita Lebombo
I’d note that in many cases there will be an opportunity cost to booking through this partnership. With most of these hotels:
- There may be opportunities to book for less through other channels
- The hotels may offer promotions and package deals directly that won’t be available through the IHG partnership (for example, Amans and Singitas both often have promotions when you book multiple properties together, and I imagine that won’t be bookable through IHG channels)
- There may be more perks available through other channels, like Virtuoso
I’d be cautiously excited here. I’m obviously intrigued by the prospect of earning points at traditionally non-points hotels, though there also may be a significant opportunity cost involved.
The points redemption potential
It will also be possible to redeem IHG Rewards Club points for stays at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties, though I’d really manage my expectations when it comes to this:
- Presumably IHG will be paying “out of pocket” for whatever the cost of a hotel would be, and IHG has confirmed that award pricing at these hotels will be dynamic (though we don’t know the extent to which pricing will be dynamic
- IHG has confirmed that free night awards won’t be redeemable at these properties, and these properties also won’t be eligible for the fourth night free benefit on co-branded IHG credit cards
Of course it would be incredible to be able to redeem 70,000 (or even 100,000) points per night at an Aman property, but don’t expect that to happen.
Could this be our chance to redeem points for Amanzoe?
It looks like one of the first Mr. and Mrs. Smith test hotels to be loaded is the AdAstra Hotel in Florence. For the night I checked the paid rate is 129EUR (~150USD), while the award rate is 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points. That’s about 0.6 cents per IHG Rewards Club point, which is slightly better than my valuation of 0.5 cents per point.
Will there be elite perks?
IHG’s most loyal members (including InterContinental Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle members) will receive room upgrades subject to availability and a free gift upon arrival, which could include a bottle of champagne, picnic hamper, or 30-minute massage.
Last year IHG announced a partnership with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and it’s finally starting to go live, with 400+ hotels participating by next month.
IHG is following the trend here by establishing a marketing partnership that gets loyalty program members access to more luxury hotels. It’s important to manage expectations here, though.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a luxury travel agency that’s good at marketing and positioning itself. As a result, I would expect that there will be quite some opportunity cost to booking through this partnership when trying to earn points. Similarly, when trying to redeem points, we’ll see revenue based redemptions, and I wouldn’t expect the rate per point to be great.
So this is a cool development, but I’m still a bit skeptical. I look forward to this partnership going live in the coming weeks on a wider scale so we can see all the details.
What do you make of the partnership between IHG and Mr. & Mrs. Smith?