The Devil is in the Details with “Free Night” Promos

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A few months ago the Fall IHG “Into the Nights” promotion came out and at first glance looked pretty lucrative.  My personal offer was to earn two free nights at any IHG property by having five nights this fall at IHG properties.  That was too many nights to just “mattress run” for, but since I already had 3-4 nights at IHG hotels planned, adding just one more cheap night to trigger two free nights I could use in Europe was a “no brainer”, and well worth the incremental investment.

My exact tasks for the “Into the Nights” Promo were:

  • Stay 5 night(s) at any of IHG’s 4,700 hotels worldwide – 8,400 points
  • Take survey – 100 points
  • Stay two Saturdays – 8,000 points
  • Download and sign in to the IHG App and book a stay – 1,900 points
  • Complete all activities for 31,600 bonus points for a total of 50,000 points or two free nights.

I completed my four actually necessary stays back in October, but waited on doing my one mattress run until December in case an real need for a stay came up.  I’m lucky that there is a Holiday Inn Express near me that regularly has rates in the range of $60 per night, so my extra cost to participate in the promo was pretty low.  I thought all was done and squared away until I logged back in one day and had an “aha moment” in a bad sort of way.

Into the Nights

I had meant to book my fifth night via the IHG app in order to meet that requirement, but instead had booked it online by going through Top Cash Back in a greedy attempt to get some cash back.  This meant I now had completed all of the requirements, except making a booking on the stinking app.  Yes, this is the same bullet point that caused such a mess early on in the promo, so how I could have let it escape my mind is beyond me other than just the habit of going through a cash back portal to book my hotel stays. 

At that point I debated whether to just let the whole thing go and call it a wash.  It was 100% my fault for being too busy, too scattered, and not making sure I was paying close attention to all the details while booking my final stay.  With these promos, the devil is always in the details, and if you don’t have the brain capacity and patience to devote at that moment to double checking those details, you shouldn’t be playing these games.

Ultimately I decided I was too far in to not just finish up the promo requirements and book one more stay via the app as required.  The stay has to be completed by the end of the year, so I found a good enough rate for tonight and will again check-in for a stay I don’t really need.  Since my out of pocket additional cost via this promo to trigger the two free nights is still under $200 total, I still did okay in this promo, but not nearly as good as I should have done if I would have just been a bit more detail oriented when booking my own stays.

I share this story as a warning to other busy parents (and non-parents).  If you are too busy to muck with these sort of things right now, then just don’t.  The likelihood of making an error is too great.  I recommend only playing around with promos that will actually cost you real money when you can devote the necessary attention to being certain you are doing it correctly.  Otherwise, you may end up wasting money, time, and simply adding to your probably already too long to-do list.

Also remember if you do have anything left to complete on the “Into the Nights” promo that the deadline is December 31st, so it is officially now or never.

How did you do in this promo?  Hopefully you did better than I did!





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  1. I was going to do it, but decided not to because:
    *I was busy for the holidays;
    *I was concerned about the inventory availability for the free nights especially later in 2015 because I would not be able to book it when the free night was deposited in my account. I did some searching on this, and it wasn’t clear exactly what inventory had to be available;
    *I was concerned about what hotels you could use to redeme the free nights;
    *Due to all the issues noted in the blogs, and IHg’s lackluster response;
    *Because I still needed a few nights for Hyatt Diamond.

  2. I needed one night in a Holiday Inn Express to complete my promotion and used it for the family in a dump that I normally wouldn’t have stayed in. Sometimes, doing a promo doesn’t make sense if the family is inconvenienced.

    on the other hand, total spend on the promotion (three bookings plus credit card plus app) was $290 and I ended up with two nights at the Intercontinental Le Grand in Paris, so it was worth it but, in the end to shave expenses, I wished I had done better homework in what places NOT to stay in — as family’s happiness always (although not in this case) should come first.

  3. I passed on this one, as I will with the 1stQ2015 one, since the targets for those who have actually stayed quite often at IHG’s properties over the years continue to be considerably higher than occasional customers of the chain. So in effect, these promos punish their best customers and reward their least! Has made me say “good-bye” to IHG and its Rewards and Ambassador programs.

  4. My offer required a grand total of one night (as long as that one night was booked on the app and the points-and-breakfast rate). (Also, the survey and the credit card). We did that at a Crowne Plaza two nights ago while visiting family in Philadelphia. We could have made it home the same night or stayed with family but this way the girls got to use the swimming pool and we had a mini-vacation.

  5. I didn’t do this promo and actually have moved my business to Marriott after getting such bad offers from IHG. I’ve been VERY loyal to them for years but the “Big Win” earlier in the year required 17 nights, this 4th quarter one wanted 19 nights and the new 2015 one wants 20 nights. This alone wouldn’t be so bad but their business model on these is to give low night offers to much less loyal customers to try and gain market share. Unfortunately it cost them this loyal customer that spends 40 to 50 nights a year with IHG (in the past).

    Sorry you got burned on this. I lost out on a couple mileage earning bonuses this Christmas season just because I was too busy to think them through even when ordering some gifts online.

  6. I messed it up like you. I only needed one more night to complete my wife’s offer, made the mattress run res for a Saturday night in November for about $80 and promptly forgot to get her to check in until 11pm on that Saturday night, long after she had gone to bed. Like you, had to book another stay for another $80, however, that completed the promo and I have already booked the two nights at the IC Times Square, with regular rates of $700/night, so still well worth the cost of the “extra” mattress run.

  7. Your tasks were minimal compared to mine. Stays outside my home country were required, stays at multiple brands, and a higher number of stays were some of the differences. I chose not to participate due to an illness in the family.

  8. I did well. 2 free nights plus about 40k bonus points for about $150. If we’ll be able to use them at kimptons, that would be incredible.

  9. I am with Paul. I completed my 5 tasks and I actually got the points associated with each task to my account, and it released more ‘bonus tasks’ for more points. But the dashboard hasn’t updated that the initial 5 tasks are completed… and haven’t seen the credit for 2 free nights… I am also annoyed and worried!

  10. Folks – I also had the “dashboard never updates” issue (waited 6 weeks) and ended up needing to go back-and-forth with customer service to get my nights. In the end, the dashboard never did update but they did deposit the nights into my account (so in case that happens to you, make sure to check your account and not the into the nights mini-site).

    The e-mail which gave me the best response / resolved the issue:

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