Starwood's board booted its CEO because it wasn't happy with growth, but it has been one of the few travel brands building loyalty in a manner that competes across the industry.
Starwood Preferred Guest hotel points are generally well liked among business travelers because they’re fairly easy to use and the have numerous transfer partners.
Benefits have been so good over the last few years, in fact, that some including myself have been fearful of an impending devaluation, especially given the turmoil in the C-Suite and dramatic devaluations from competing hotels.
Despite the hand-wringing, good things keep happening to SPG. In addition to the award-winning Crossover Reward Program that the hotel kicked off with Delta (as well as a similar program with Emirates) last year, the group is now teaming up with Uber to let travelers earn Starwood points for every ride they book. If the travelers happen to be staying in a Starwood hotel at that time, they can earn up to four points per dollar spent, depending on the subscriber’s elite status.
Rewards for top tier members are also changing for the better. Gary Leff over at View from the Wing reports that Platinum members (those who book for 25 stays or 50 nights per year) will soon be receiving a wider array of perks in addition to their current Suite Night benefits.
All of these upgrades plus continued devaluation among competitors should make Starwood Preferred Guest a highly valuable program through the course of the year. That’s on top of an earlier aggregate by Skift that measured them at about 50% more valuable than their next competitor, an analysis from View from the Wing that evaluates them as the most valuable among all loyalty programs and an analysis from The Points Guy that values them at 64% stronger than Marriott rewards.
Another angle to consider is Starwood’s strong credit card program. With their branded AmEx, travelers can quickly earn a great deal of points available for fast transfer to partner programs, effectively making their SPG account a portfolio account for all means of points.
With a new year starting, now is a good time to start building up loyalty with the Starwood brand. According to statusmatcher.com, the hotel meets most status match requests with challenges, so with a few booked rooms it may be easy to switch sides. After that, let the fortunes roll in.
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Photo credit: Starwood's SPG app for loyalty members. Starwood Hotels