Fear of Losing Loyalty-Program Status Looms Larger Than Lost Luggage, Missed Flights

New Starwood Preferred Guest Survey of Global Travelers Reveals Loyalty Beyond Reason

STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 1, 2012-- It may no longer be a stretch to say travelers are married to their frequent traveler programs. In fact, 73% of travelers would choose loyalty-program benefits over a spouse if they could take just one on the road, according to an eye-opening survey of nearly 10,000 globetrotters released today by Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).

Relationships with hotel loyalty programs may even outlive marital unions, the survey said. Seventy-six percent of respondents revealed they felt their status in a hotel loyalty program would last longer than their marriage or current job. And, in a travel emergency, 70 percent of respondents said that their elite status in a hotel loyalty rewards program would be handier than their smartphone, tablet or even their personal assistant.

The study, commissioned to celebrate the launch of a suite of distinct benefits for Starwood Preferred Guest Members, polled 9,900 adults around the world who travel more than 25 times a year. Starwood Preferred Guest, the award-winning loyalty program of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT), today announced new benefits that make SPG the richest elite program in the industry. The more Members stay, the more choices are available and the more personalized the benefits become with standouts like lifetime status, first-of-its-kind 24-hour check-in and a dedicated Starwood ambassador who provides one-on-one service to uniquely tailor the guest experience.

Three-quarters of respondents would take extra trips to bump up status

The new survey demonstrates the value members attach to loyalty programs like Starwood Preferred Guest. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they would take an extra trip just to rack up miles or status in a loyalty program. And nearly the same number, 73 percent said they’ve taken extra business trips solely to rack up miles or status in a loyalty program.

“Honeymoon”? “Emergency”? Respondents would try subterfuge to get upgrades

Respondents were not above telling little white lies to get a better hotel room or hotel/airline travel upgrade. Nearly half of respondents, 45%, claimed they would pretend it was their honeymoon; 25% would pretend they had a family emergency; and 20% would pretend to be someone important.

Among other key findings:

  • If they could only take one item with them while traveling, most respondents would take their benefits in a hotel loyalty rewards program (73%), rather than their spouse/partner (15%) or luggage (11%).
  • Losing their status in a hotel loyalty program (65%) scares respondents more than lost luggage (12%) or missing a flight (11%).
  • The survey reinforces that hotel loyalty rewards programs have eclipsed other rewards programs in value. Half of respondents said they consider hotel loyalty programs most important, followed by credit-card (19%) and airline loyalty programs (13%).

Unparalleled benefits and an unmatched elite program have propelled Starwood Preferred Guest to stratospheric growth in 2011. SPG bookings now account for one of every two guests at Starwood properties; just five years ago, that figure was one in three.

To learn more about these exciting SPG changes that give Members more control over their hotel experience visit spg.com/morepower. All benefits begin March 1, 2012.

The survey was conducted for Starwood Preferred Guest by STUDYLOGIC LLC of Cedarhurst, NY via telephone of 9,900 adults across the globe who travel 25 times or more per year. Of respondents, 1620 came from the United States and Canada, 2100 from China, 1500 from the Middle East, 1590 from Latin America, 1560 from Japan, and 1530 from Europe. Interviews were conducted between January 1st and January 9th, 2012.

About Starwood Preferred Guest

The SPG program’s breakthrough policy of No Blackout Dates at the world’s most sought after collection of hotels, reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. By creating a program centered on its members, SPG has developed the most passionate and knowledgeable membership base in the hotel loyalty space. Through its use of new technologies and innovative channels such as SPG.com, SPG.com/stayconnected, SPG.com/flights and others, SPG continues to innovate and lead the industry. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at over 1,000 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once in a lifetime experiences available through SPG Moments at spg.com/moments, the program has proven to be a big draw for the world’s most frequent travelers, and a significant competitive advantage for Starwood. For more information about Starwood Preferred Guest please visit SPG.com.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1071 properties in 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. The company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

Source: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.


Casey Cotton, 212-373-6156
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Worldwide, Inc.
Jennifer Leemann, 203-964-4323


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