I have been a member of the Priority Club for many years now and have found it the best and most rewarding scheme to join. I do travel a lot with work and stay away in hotels an lot, I have almost every card going for each hotel chain, but this is the only one which I continually use and actually get anything out of it. Firstly two hints on how to get the most out of this scheme. Use Holiday Inn's, if you have a choice go for the Holiday Inn wherever possible. And secondly sign up to every single special offer they send through, even if you don't think you will meet the criteria it is worth signing up as you just might get some bonus points. There are 3 levels of membership which you can move through, basic is Club, then Gold and the top is Platinum. To move between levels you either have to stay a set number of nights, 15 to get Gold and 50 to get Platinum. Or you need a set number of points 20,000 for Gold and 60,000 for Platinum. It is normally easier to get the levels with a number of points rather than nights, especially if you pick up bonus points for stays. Once you get to Gold level each stay gains an extra 10% on points and at Platinum you get 50% bonus points. This also helps keep the level once you get to the top. I have managed to stay as a Platinum level when I didn't get enough points or stays one year, not sure how often this happens. Now lets look at benefits of having the card. At the lower level you don't get that much, yes you can gain some points and then spend them on nights away but turning up at the hotel you only really get a newspaper. Once you get to Gold you get a priority check-in option which normally just means that the hotel has already set up your room and you just sign for a key. This is quite nice and very useful after a long trip to a hotel. If, or when, you get to Platinum you then get one of the best things about the club, that is you get room upgrades where possible when checking in. When checking in I have probably been upgraded 8 or 9 times out of 10 and on the other occasions they have been apologetic that they haven't been able to upgrade me. This often means you move from a standard floor to the business rooms or to a nicer view, or larger room. This is a really nice touch and does make you feel wanted by the hotel brand. Once you are in the club you can also get a number of complimentary items at hotels, this includes free drinks, money off meals and free internet. Recently I got a free drink on arrival and 25% off all food and drink at the hotel. So this means that staying at a hotel is much nicer and you get some nice rooms and feel important when checking in. But what else can you get from the points and club. You can decide to collect points or air miles, I have always chosen points as I see air miles as pretty pointless in the long run. Priority Club have a shop on line where you can trade in points for goods, I have friends who have traded points in for a PS3 or John Lewis vouchers to then buy an iPad. I haven't traded in points for goods, I have always used them for free nights in hotels. This has really pleased my wife over the years as we have had many short breaks in a hotel for free. I have used points for single nights throughout the UK and around the world. I managed to get 4 nights in Rome for free through the points and 2 nights in the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. Depending on the type of hotel and the area depends on how many points a free night will cost. Prices range from 20,000 to 50,000 that I have seen. 50,000 is normally for Intercontinental hotels, while 20,000 could be Holiday Inn's or Expresses depending on locations. The four nights in Rome in a Crowne Plaza cost 25,000 a night. These points can be used at any point in time and the points do not expire which does mean you can slowly build up points and then use them at a later date. When using points you just get a room you cannot book extras such as breakfast, so be aware of that. Priority Club does have links to other partners such as Hertz which means you can book cars with a discount and gain points for the booking. This has also resulted in me getting some very nice cars from Hertz at times. Cards like this work, because you start gaining advantages so keep staying at the same hotel to gain more things. It really works for me because I get very good service from the Intercontinental brand due to being a Platinum member and I know the hotels are going to be pretty good most of the time. I would strongly recommend signing up to this club and attempting to make it work for you as it is pretty easy to get good things out of it.
My wife and I had a lovely stay recently at a Holiday Inn Hotel (See opinion under Hotels in Reading) and while we were there we saw an advert for the Priority Club Worldwide, this is the frequent stayer program for the Bass Hotels Group, as we enjoyed ourselves we thought we may come back so took the details home with us. The priority club membership is completely free and it earns you points on every qualifying stay at any of the following hotel chains. Inter-Continental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Select, Holiday Inn SunSpree Resorts, Holiday Inn Family Suites Resorts, Holiday Inn Garden Court and Staybridge Suites. Reading through the extensive legal jargon available on the website (www.priorityclub.com) it appears that a qualifying stay is just about any stay, but it excludes free or heavily discounted rates, such as a package holiday, or airline staff rates, but it includes regular special offer breaks. The only problem with this program is it is very americanised, everything is in dollars and when you check reservations it defaults to USA. There are lots more opportunities to collect and spend points in America, but don’t let that put you off. There are 4 levels of membership, they are as follows. When you first sign up you get the club level membership. This is the basic level that entitles you to earn points with every qualifying stay at one of the above hotels. You earn 10 points for every US dollar or equivalent. So the number of points you earn in the UK depends on the exchange rate at the time of your stay, for example on a recent stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Exeter I paid £49.53 and I was awarded with 620 points. After 8 qualifying stays you are upgraded to signature membership, I have to admit I could not find any additional benefits or any differences from the club membership level. After 20 qualifying stays (in a calendar year) yo u are upgraded to GOLD level membership, this entitles you to receive a 10% points bonus on all points earned as a gold level member. After 60 qualifying stays (in a calendar year) you are upgraded to PLATINUM level membership, this entitles you to receive a 30% points bonus on all points earned as a platinum level member. They also have a partnership with Hertz, so if you need a hire car, then you can earn 125 points per day if you use Hertz. When you register you have the option to collect priority club points or you can choose to collect air miles for one of the participating airlines, all the information is available on the web site, but as I signed up for the points I can’t comment on the airline miles side of things. You can redeem your points on free nights at any of the hotels in the group. There are different numbers of points required for different hotels, the current list is as follows. Holiday Inn Express 10000 Holiday Inn Garden Court 13000 Holiday Inn 15000 Holiday Inn Select 16000 Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort 20000 Staybridge Suites / Studio 14000 Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts 25000 Inter Continental Hotel and Resorts – Level 1 50000 Inter Continental Hotel and Resorts – Level 2 30000 As you can see you need an awful lot of points to get a free stay, so unless you are a very frequent stayer you are unlikely to earn many nights away. There are lots of other ways to spend your points though, again full details are on the website but they include dining vouchers and gifts. There are some additional benefits to having a priority club. Priority Check In, when you reserve a room and quote your priority c lub membership number the room will be guaranteed, when you arrive at the hotel you will not have to queue up to check in, if there is a queue at reception just look on the reception counter and you will see the priority club check in point, all you have to do is sign the form by your name and take the packet with your name on it. Inside you will find your room key and room number so you can go straight to your room. Free Newspaper, all member of the Priority Club are entitled to a free newspaper on weekdays. Extended Checkout – As a priority club member you can request an extended checkout, not a lot of use if you are working away but if you are away for a break it could be useful. Also at all hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa you get the following Corporate Account Rate, this means you benefit from the standard negotiated corporate account rate for all bookings, this will save you a small amount of money, example, the standard room rate at the Express in Exeter is £52.00 per night, I pay £49.53 Free Family Accommodation, you can have up to 4 people in your room without paying any extra. Obviously if you go for a bigger room you will have to pay for the room, but if you can squeeze everyone into a standard room then no extra. Discount on Business Services – you get a 20% discount on all business services at the hotel, including typing, photocopying, faxing and PC printing. You also receive a statement and a club magazine on a regular basis, the statement shows you all the points you have been awarded and it comes with 2 forms, one for adjustments so if you did not receive the points for a stay you can complete the form and send it off with a copy of your receipt and they will correct it. You also get a claim form so you can claim your rewards. The magazine details special offers and new hotels that have been added to the group. Web Site. The priority cl ub web site is very good, you can register on line or you can pick up a form at any holiday inn hotel. When you register you need to provide details of your name and address obviously, you are also asked to provide your credit card details and your preferences for rooms such as smoking or non smoking and double bed or twin beds. This speeds up your use of the online reservations as it uses these as defaults when you are logged in. The website links into all the bass hotel websites so you can check availability and make reservations on line. If you have logged in with your priority club membership number and pin number then you don’t have to worry about entering your details as it already knows who you are and what you want, but it does give you the ability to change these at the time of booking. You can also review your account details on line and make changes to your account details and preferences. You can also view your statement on line and review your points balance. Summary, I like to use Holiday Inn hotels wherever I can as I find them comfortable a value for money so the points are just a bonus. Unless you are staying at a hotel every week you are unlikely to earn enough points for much more than one night away, but the additional benefits make it well worth signing up. For me the priority check in was enough to make me join, but the other benefits are great as well. If you think you may want to stay at one of the hotels in the Bass group I recommend you register for your membership now you have nothing to lose.