Yesterday Starwood published details of their new promotion and I’ve been smiling quite a lot these past 24 hours. This promotion is so good that I waited 24 hours to let it sink in.
The first set of hotel loyalty promotions for 2009 were nothing to get excited about. Points bonuses are great for business travelers who are going to be in hotels anyway, but I work through my hotel stays on an annual plan. The first four months of hotel promotions were nothing special historically. Starwood Preferred Guest has now given us a historic promotion for 2009.
Why spend $1,000 in February and March for 20,000 points when I can spend $1,000 in June and July for free nights worth 100,000 points?
My Loyalty Traveler advice is to take advantage of the opportunity. This Starwood Preferred Guest promotion is the best deal from Starwood Hotels in quite a long time. Who knows how long it will be before another promotion comes along as lucrative as this one? (Hyatt’s Faster Free Nights will probably return in 2009, however, Starwood has hundreds more upper upscale hotels than Hyatt.)
The Offer: Every two stays earns one free night. Starwood paid hotel stays at any property are eligible for earning promotion credit. Starwood Hotels includes the hotel brands: Four Points by Sheraton, Sheraton, Westin, aloft Hotels, W Hotels, element, Le Meridien, Luxury Collection, and St. Regis Hotels.
Free nights earned are valid for a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night stay at a Category 1-6 hotel. There is no limit for free nights earned. The opportunity to redeem a free night at a Category 6 hotel is a rare opportunity. These are quite generous terms.
Promotion Registration is Required: Member must register online at SPG.com/freeweekends by July 31, 2009.
Promotion Dates for Earning Free Nights: Paid stays from May 1, 2009 through July 31, 2009 qualify for free night promotion. A multi-night stay extending through these start and end dates also counts. For example, stay April 29 to May 2 and that counts as a stay. Stay July 31-Aug 4 and that also counts as a stay.
Redeeming Free Nights: Free nights may be redeemed through September 27, 2009 at a Category 1-6 hotel.
“How do I redeem a Free Weekend Night Award?
To redeem a Free Weekend Night Award, Preferred Guest members in the U.S. or Canada should call 866-539-0059. Elite members should call their dedicated Gold or Platinum customer service lines. Members residing outside the U.S. and Canada should contact the SPG Customer Contact Center for your region; Advance reservations are required, and all members should ask for Award ID 9FWFN.”
Free night credits should be posted within 3 to 5 days after qualifying activity. Free nights are only available for weekend stays on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. You may redeem consecutive free nights and you may combine free nights with paid nights or other SPG redemption nights such as Cash & Points or Free Nights using Points.
Category 7 hotels are excluded from free nights redemption and four other lower category “all-suites” hotels are excluded from Free Weekend Night Award redemption:
· The Resort at Singer Island,
· Pine Cliff Residences,
· Sheraton Vistana Villages International Drive, and
· Sheraton Vistana Resort Lake Buena Vista
Restrictions: The primary restriction is Free Weekend Night Awards are not transferrable and may not be gifted. The member who earns the free nights must be the guest who stays.
Loyalty Traveler analysis:
I’ll tell you my plan. I took a look at Category 6 hotels and Category 5 hotels where I can leverage this promotion to stay at hotels I would not otherwise be able to afford. I have my sights on three hotels:
· St. Regis San Francisco,
· St. Regis Aspen,
· St. Regis Monarch Beach
These hotels are my Staycation Bucket List.
San Francisco and Monarch Beach in Orange County are within driving range. My wife’s family is in Denver and I have desired a trip to the St. Regis Aspen for several years. My plan is simply fly K and myself to Aspen and let the family drive up and visit us.
As a rule of thumb I use $100 per hotel night when calculating promotion expenditures. Even downtown San Francisco has had room rates under $100 this year. 20 one-night stays = $2,000.
I look at a $2,000 investment for 10 free nights. Obviously, St. Regis Aspen would need to be a 3 night stay and I could work St. Regis Monarch Beach in as a 3 night stay and use the remainder of nights at the St. Regis San Francisco.
Here are sample room rates:
St. Regis Aspen, Fri-Mon, June 12-15 $309/night or $1,020 for three nights after tax.
St. Regis Monarch Beach, Fri-Mon, July 10-13, $575/night or $1,983 for three nights after tax.
St. Regis San Francisco, Fri-Mon, Aug 7-10, $429/night or $1,488 for three nights after tax.
Starwood is being proactive in this poor economic environment. The luxury hotel segment has been hardest hit with declines in occupancy and rates. Hotels sitting at 30% occupancy is a recipe for employee layoffs and more limited service as a result.
This promotion allows Starwood to fill hotels across the market segment spectrum. Hotels will get through this tough economic climate, but a luxury hotel has a difficult time providing service without employees and it is hard to maintain employees without hotel guests to service. This promotion seems designed to share the pain and provide a gainful opportunity for customer loyalty and guest occupancy.
I see this as a win-win customer relations strategy.
I estimate my $2,000 planned investment will have a return of $4,500 in added value benefits from the free room nights at St. Regis hotels. In addition as a SPG Platinum elite, I will likely receive $2,000 to $3,000 in added value for my 30 nights of hotel stays in the form of room upgrades, Starpoints earned (15,000 or so), and hotel amenities. And Platinum elite requalification is assured for 2010.
This Starwood Preferred Guest promotion will likely provide K and I with 30 nights of hotel rooms with added value around $7,000 on top of the $2,000 to $2,500 investment for the hotel stays.
That is why I have been smiling for the past day. This offer is really good for our hotel lifestyle.
FlyerTalk thread on SPG Promotion
SPG Promotion link
SPG Promotion Terms and Conditions
SPG Promotion FAQ