STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 1, 2012-- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is raising the stakes in the hotel loyalty landscape to win greater share from the world’s most prolific travelers, a powerful and growing group of global mega travelers. The company announced today new benefits that make its award winning loyalty program Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) the richest elite program in the industry. The more SPG 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.
“With globalization trends, there are more mega travelers than ever before going to more places around the world,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood. “The opportunity to cultivate what we call ‘loyalty beyond reason’ with the world’s most frequent travelers has never been greater. 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 percent of Starwood’s profits. With that in mind, the company spent the last three years quietly piloting a highly personal one-on-one ambassador service to better understand the needs and desires of these very powerful 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.”
Turning an ancient hotel convention on its head, Starwood is for the first time ever abolishing the industry’s long-standing 3:00 p.m. check-in time and giving its most frequent travelers control of their own arrival and departure time. Your24 lets Members choose their own 24 hour check-in and checkout time. For example, a guest who checks in at 10 p.m. won’t have to check-out until 10 p.m. on their day of departure. The Your24 program is offered to SPG Members who spend 75+ eligible nights at Starwood hotels annually.
Building upon its successful pilot program, Starwood is expanding its innovative one-to-one service which matches its best travelers with personal ambassadors. Now, all Members who stay 100 nights annually are invited to participate in this unique service designed to provide the ultimate in tailored experiences across all 1100+ Starwood hotels. What separates this from a traditional travel concierge program is the unique personal relationship between Member and ambassador. Starwood’s ambassadors work one-on-one with guests to understand their preferences and what matters to them on each trip to deliver a customized experience on property. Ambassadors also provide services beyond the hotel and are even empowered to assist guests when they’re not traveling.
To show its appreciation for its most loyal and enduring travelers, Starwood Preferred Guest is introducing SPG LifetimeTM status. Now Members who have stayed 250 nights total and maintained elite status for at least five years (consecutive or not) are awarded 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.
Starwood Enhances Benefits for all Elite Members and the More You Stay, the Richer and More Personal it Gets
“Our goal is to make SPG so rich that it’s impossible for mega travelers not to choose Starwood,” said Vondrasek. “We also want to make the program wildly aspirational for all frequent travelers. And because we know that many of our Members are also Members of other hotel loyalty programs, we believe these upgrades give travelers a compelling reason to consolidate their travel with us. With this in mind, we have enriched all of our elite offerings, ratcheting up the proposition as Members stay more.”
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.
To celebrate its new benefits, SPG is updating its brand identity with a new look inspired by the rich personalities of its Members. SPG conducted a casting call for Members to participate in photo shoots with famed portrait photographer Alessandra Petlin. The inspiring photos will be prominently featured in all SPG communications and collateral including more than 90 million member communications a year. The first photo shoot took place in New York and features the Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, W New York - Times Square, W New York – Downtown, Aloft Harlem, The St. Regis New York and Sheraton Tribeca.
Visit spg.com/members to hear personal stories from these Members about their relationship with SPG. Additional casting calls are taking place around the world in 2012. Follow SPG on Facebook.com/spg to learn about the latest locations.
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.
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
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Source: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Casey Cotton, 212.373.6156
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Worldwide, Inc.
Jennifer Leemann, 203.964.4323