Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is increasing the benefits available to members of its hotel loyalty program including 24-hour check-in.
The Starwood Preferred Guest program will increase and personalize rewards for member the more they stay. Other benefits include lifetime status and a dedicated Starwood ambassador who provides one-on-one service to uniquely tailor the guest experience.
Just 2% of travelers drive 30% of Starwood’s profits, according to the White Plains, N.Y.-based company. With that in mind, Starwood spent the last three years piloting a one-on- one ambassador service to better understand the needs and desires of these 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.
Most notably, Starwood is abolishing the industry’s long-standing 3 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 Elite members -- those who spend 75+ nights at Starwood hotels annually. Elite members represent 1% of the membership and drive 20% of member revenue. What’s more, they are spending 60% more than they did five years ago.
Starwood is the first hotel loyalty program to offer the 24-hour check-in benefit, said Gretchen Kloke, vice president, global loyalty marketing, Starwood.
“We were looking to redefine loyalty in an era where mega travelers are more profitable than ever, and these travelers expect us to know them, and to anticipate and address their needs,” Kloke tells Marketing Daily. “Hotel Loyalty Platforms are increasingly competitive, and as such, we were looking to create something that is impossible to match.”
While acquisition of new SPG members is always a goal, at the core of these changes was a desire to “own the hearts and minds of our guests by investing in enhancing our current members’ guest experience,” she says. “Most companies see loyalty programs as part of the marketing mix, where we see SPG as a key piece to earning the loyalty of our most high-frequency travelers to our portfolio of brands.”
Starwood’s super loyal members -- the 2.0 version of the 80s Road Warrior who travel from country to country, continent to continent -- are more valuable than ever, she says. “They stay more, they pay more, and they hold up in tough economic times,” Kloke adds.
Starwood also is expanding its one-to-one service which matches its best travelers with personal ambassadors. 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 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.
Starwood Preferred Guest is introducing SPG Lifetime status for its most loyal guests. 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.
Besides Your24, after spending 75 nights with Starwood, members earn four Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent. 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.
SPG also is updating its brand identity with a new look. SPG conducted a casting call for members to participate in photo shoots with famed portrait photographer Alessandra Petlin. The photos will be prominently featured in all SPG communications and collateral including more than 90 million member communications a year.