Business travelers will lament the end of the Uber-Starwood partnership, but much more may be on the horizon for Uber's loyalty plans.
Ridesharing titan Uber is winding down a partnership with Starwood’s Peferred Guest program later this year that let hotel guests earn loyalty points for booking cars. The announcement came in an email to users overnight.
Marriott followed up with a statement, though it couldn’t comment on which party terminated the deal:
We evaluate our partnerships for the long term. After careful review, we will not be renewing the Uber partnership for 2018. It will officially end on December 17, 2017. Starpoints earned through Uber will not be affected. Registered SPG members who have stays posted with their SPG member accounts through the end of this year can continue to earn Starpoints for Uber rides until 11:59 PM on December 17.
Uber launched its own branded credit this week, and its possible that the two development — the end of the once-ground-breaking Starwood partnership and the new credit card — could be a signal that Uber wants to assert more control over its loyalty program.
Launched in 2015, the partnership allowed travelers to link accounts between Uber and Starwood. Hotel points could then be earned as a function of Uber rides at a rate of 0.5 points per dollar spent. Later in the relationship, riders could take advantage of promotions to multiply those points.
At the time, Uber and Starwood’s partnership was groundbreaking for the travel industry, which had never seen a partnership between a ridesharing company and a hotel. Business travelers, in particular, were fond of the relationship because Uber was already the de facto ridesharing tool and Starwood was a favorite among road warriors.
In addition to a strong loyalty program good for booking a massive spectrum of hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest is popular among business travelers because of its wide range of airline partners, including American, Delta and United.
Uber and Starwood plan to end the relationship on December 17, and it’s unclear whether Uber has other hotel partners on the docket.
It’s possible, however, that the ridesharing company is looking to move loyalty away from partners and more to an internal platform. Earlier this week, Uber announced that it was launching its own branded credit card, which has already raised eyebrows, but which may be an indication that it wants more control over how its points are earned and spent.
It’s also unclear how Uber’s other travel partnerships may evolve. In addition to the Starwood deal, Uber also works with American Express to give its platinum cardholders a $200 annual credit as well as a boost in Membership Rewards points (which can also be translated into airline miles) for every ride. With a new credit card partner for Uber coming down the line though, that relationship could be in jeopardy.
As Uber continues to grow, more partnerships pay end up sunsetting as the titan starts to build its own loyalty network. And while the bad news is that the Starwood-Uber deal is done for, the good news is that business travelers may soon have whole new loyalty platform to look forward to.
Photo credit: Starwood Preferred Guests used to be able to earn points for Uber rides but their partnership will end in December. Uber for Business