When IHG announced the takeover of Kimpton Hotels earlier this year the Kimpton-faithful weren’t exactly overjoyed. Most expressed serious concerns about the future of the brand now that it was to be run by a huge hotel chain.
Kimpton has done a very good job of building itself a niche in the boutique end of the hotel market and it has a solid fan base of guests that likes things just as they are – in their case change isn’t good! One of the aspects of the Kimpton brand that their guests liked the most was the loyalty program (Karma Rewards). And one of their biggest fears was that it would be swallowed up by the bigger and, to them, less rewarding IHG Rewards.
Kimpton’s Epic Hotel Miami – via Flickr
Well, there’s been good news. According to Skift, the Kimpton CEO (Mike DeFrino) used the six-month anniversary of the announcement of the take over to reassure Kimpton fans that all was going to be ok.
In an email to customers DeFrino wrote:
“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”
He went on to add: that Karma Rewards would “remain as a unique IHG Rewards Club program extension.” – so no big, bad merger of rewards programs….yet.
CEOs and big companies are wising up to what consumers want when loyalty programs and large consumer-centric companies combine and they’re getting better at dealing with the situation. American Airlines has clearly looked over at the United/Continental merger to see just exactly how not to merge two airlines and that’s helping them in their merger with US Airways. Similarly it would seem like IHG and Kimpton are keen not to follow in United’s footsteps either and this statement by Kimpton’s CEO underlines that point.
Now the big question is this: How long do the merging companies play nice with their consumers before pushing through all the changes they really want? Let’s not be naïve – it’s not a case of “if” more of a case of “when”will the hammer come down?