Categorized | Hotels

Starwood: New lifetime status, perks for top guests…

Posted on 01 February 2012

Starwood believes points aren’t enough for the world’s international business travelers – an elite group that makes up just 2% of Starwood’s customers yet drives 30% of its profits.


That’s why Starwood today is launching new loyalty benefits including a new lifetime status level and an industry first: 24-hour check-in. It’s also enriching benefits for the rest of its Starwood Preferred Guest members.


“With globalization trends, there are more mega travelers than ever before going to more places around the world,” Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen says in a press release. “These are sophisticated consumers who have become jaded by generic points and perks.”


The Wall Street Journal says Starwood is investing $25 million in the program.


Starwood says it spent the last three years quietly piloting a highly personalized, one-to-one ambassador service to better understand the needs and desires of these very powerful guests.


Back in 2010, Hotel Check-In revealed Starwood’s secret experiment with a newfangled loyalty program that included personalized ambassador service.


At the time, Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s senior vice president of interactive and loyalty marketing, told Hotel Check-In that they picked people based on other factors besides frequency of stays – the standard factor for membership in the Starwood Preferred Guest program – to pilot the program.


He said, “We even targeted some travelers who were loyal not to Starwood, but to our competitors.” Among some members on at the time, the new program met with skepticism.


Today, Starwood says that it had seen across that small, select sample of travelers a “double-digit share shift compared to a control group,” and it used those insights from the pilot to develop new benefits aimed at its Starwood Preferred Guest elite members.


“What we heard loud and clear from travelers was that they wanted more choice, more control and more personal service,” Vondrasek says in today’s statement. “Through high touch and high tech, we have a newfound ability to better understand our guests, their preferences and even the nature of each unique trip. By delivering a whole new definition of choice and personal services, we’re moving beyond a purely points arms race to instead build loyalty for life.”


New benefits:

  • No more 3 p.m. check-in: Starwood is giving its most frequent travelers the ability to check in – and check out – any time they want. Under the “Your24″ program, a guest who checks in at 10 a.m. can check out at 10 p.m. if it fits their needs. The program’s offered to SPG members who spend 75 or more eligible nights per year.
  • Expanded ambassador service: Building on the pilot program, Starwood is expanding the one-to-one service for its best customers. All members who stay 100 nights per year are invited to use the service across all of Starwood’s 1,100 hotels. It’s different than concierge service, Starwood says, is that you can maintain your relationship with a single Ambassador so they better understand your needs and preferences – even when you’re not traveling.
  • Lifetime status: Starwood’s introducing SPG Lifetime status. Members who have stayed 250 nights total and maintained elite status for at least five years (consecutive or not) are given SPG Lifetime Gold status. Members with 500 total nights and 10 years of Platinum SPG status (consecutive or not) will enjoy their top tier status for life. The 500-night-minimum may be considered attractive to some very frequent travelers. A post written last night on the blog speculated that “considering what Hyatt and Marriott (require to earn lifetime status), I would imagine (the eligibility requirement) to be in the 1,000 nights range.”


In short, Vondrasek says: “Our goal is to make SPG so rich that it’s impossible for mega travelers not to choose Starwood.”


Starwood, though, is also wooing its existing members so they don’t resent the new elite status tier. You can read more about them on Starwood’s site. New benefits as of March 1:

  • SPG 100 Nights Benefit: After crossing the 100-night threshold, SPG members are paired with their personal ambassador.
  • SPG 75 Nights Benefit: After spending 75 nights with Starwood, members earn four Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent. Members also get access to Your24 to control their check-in and checkout time.
  • SPG 50 Nights Benefit: At 50 nights, members will receive 10 Suite Night Awards to use for room upgrades. Suite Night Awards can be confirmed five days prior to arrival.
  • Platinum Members (25 stays or 50 nights annually): You now have the option of complimentary breakfast as part of the welcome gift at check-in. Platinum Members can also choose from bonus Starpoints or a local gift.
  • Gold Members (10 Stays or 25 nights annually): You now receive a welcome gift at check-in and can choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access or a complimentary beverage.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Videos, Slideshows and Podcasts by Cincopa Wordpress Plugin