Starwood ups ante in loyalty game

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide on Wednesday raised the stakes in the hotel loyalty game by adding benefits (beginning March 1) to its Starwood Preferred Guest program such lifetime status, 24-hour check-in and personalized service via an “ambassador.”

“The opportunity to cultivate what we call ‘loyalty beyond reason’ with the world’s most frequent travelers has never been greater,” said Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen. “These are sophisticated consumers who have become jaded by generic points and perks. This is why we’ve invested in distinct new and personal benefits to truly reward those who reward us with a disproportionate amount of their business.”

According to van Paasschen, just two percent of travelers drive 30% of Starwood’s profits. With that in mind, the company spent the last three years quietly piloting a one-on-one ambassador service to better understand the needs and desires of these guests.  Across the small, select sample of travelers, Starwood saw a double-digit share shift compared to a control group. Starwood took insights from this pilot to develop new benefits aimed at its elite Members.

“What we heard loud and clear from travelers was that they wanted more choice, more control and more personal service,” said Mark Vondrasek, senior vice president, distribution, loyalty & partnership marketing.  “Today, 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.”

Among the new perks: 

  • Abolishing 3 p.m. check-in time and giving its most frequent travelers control of their own arrival and departure time. Your24 lets members who spend 75-plus eligible nights at Starwood hotels annually choose their own 24-hour check-in and checkout time.
  • Members who stay 100 nights annually are invited to participate in the one-to-one service program, which matches its best travelers with personal ambassadors.
  • SPG Lifetime Gold status is available to members who have stayed 250 nights and maintained elite status for at least five years (consecutive or not). Members with 500 nights and 10 years of Platinum SPG status (consecutive or not) will enjoy their top tier status for life.
  • 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, 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 are confirmable five days prior to arrival.
  • Platinum Members (25 Stays or 50 Nights Annually): now have the option of complimentary breakfast as part of their 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):  now receive a welcome gift at check-in and can choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access or a complimentary beverage.