Feb232011

Starwood Preferred Guest Program Comparison Needs Major Update

Starwood Preferred Guest provides a frequent guest program comparison table on its website showing SPG statistics compared to Marriott Rewards, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport and Priority Club Rewards.

The webpage states it was last updated August 12, 2009. Much of the information currently shown is not accurate.

SPG Frequent Guest Program Comparison to Other Programs

Participating brands: Hawthorn Suites and AmeriSuites are listed as Hyatt Gold Passport hotel brands. Hawthorn Suites was sold by Hyatt to Wyndham in summer 2008 and participation in the Gold Passport program ended in October 2008. Amerisuites were converted into Hyatt Place properties or sold. Hawthorn Suites is currently a Wyndham Rewards hotel brand.

Number of hotels worldwide: This information is truly outdated and does not reflect the tremendous global growth across Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group over the past two years.

Current number of hotels worldwide as of December 31, 2010.

  • SPG = 1,041 hotels is an additional 41 hotels or about 4% growth. 
  • Marriott = 3,506 hotels is an additional 706 hotels and represents 25% growth. 
  • IHG = 4,437 hotels is an additional 737 hotels and represents 20% growth.
  • Hyatt = 453 hotels and is a decline of 17 hotels. This decline is mostly a result of the sale of Hawthorn Suites to Wyndham Worldwide in 2008. Hyatt increased its properties about 20% when looking at growth across other brands.
  • Hilton = 3,600 hotels in 81 countries is an additional 600 hotels and 20% growth.

SPG Frequent Guest Program Comparison to other programs

 

Minimum points required to redeem a free weekend night: 

Different rates of earning points per $1 in hotel spend across these five frequent guest programs make this comparison totally irrelevant on an absolute point value. There is no relevance to SPG costing 2,000 points for a free night and Priority Club costing 10,000 points for a free night at the lowest hotel category without consideration of the earn rate.

The comparison is only meaningful when the five programs are adjusted to a common scale of hotel spend required to earn these points.

Loyalty Traveler comparison of hotel spend needed to earn a free night at lowest category hotel.

  1. Hilton = 7,500 points = $500 to $750 base spend (10 points or 15 points/$1 depending on Points & Miles or Points & Points preference)
  2. Marriott = 7,500 points = $750 to $1,500 base spend (5 points/$1 or 10 points/$1 depending on hotel brand.)
  3. SPG = 2,000 points = $1,000 base spend (2 points/$1)
  4. Hyatt = 5,000 points = $1,000 base spend (5 points/$1)
  5. Priority Club = 10,000 points = $1,000 to $2,000 base spend (5 points/$1 or 10 points/$1 depending on hotel brand.)

Another important aspect of lowest category comparison is the number of hotels actually assigned to the lowest category for each program.

Frequent guest members derive little benefit from a low priced hotel reward if there are very few hotels offering that reward. Hilton as number one ranked frequent guest program for least spend required to earn a free night is only half the story from the member’s point of view.

  1. Hyatt Gold Passport Category 1 = 87 hotels or 19.2% of global hotel portfolio.
  2. Marriott Rewards Category 1 = 290 hotels or 8.3% of global hotel portfolio.
  3. Priority Club Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express 10,000 points hotels = about 350 hotels globally or 7.9% of global hotel portfolio. Loyalty Traveler post from April 2010 breaks down numbers for these low cost rewards.
  4. SPG category 1 = 31 hotels until February 28, 2011 or 3.0% of global hotel portfolio.
  5. SPG category 1 = 22 hotels as of March 1, 2011 or 2.1% of global hotel portfolio.
  6. Hilton HHonors category 1 = 37 hotels (33 USA; 3 Mexico; 1 Ecuador) or 1.0% of global hotel portfolio.

Loyalty Traveler Comment:

Hyatt Gold Passport members have the clear advantage in actually finding a hotel in the lowest hotel reward category. Marriott Rewards and Priority Club are also advantageous with hotels in the lowest category numbering in the hundreds.

SPG and Hilton HHonors barely populate their category 1 and each year the percentage of global properties in the lowest award category declines.

Two other errors in the SPG Frequent Guest Program comparison table

  • Hyatt Gold Passport offers free nights with no blackout dates – you’re welcome to any available standard room.
  • Hilton HHonors Cash & Points reward nights? This is a reward option I have never known to be offered by Hilton HHonors.

 

Conversion of points to airlines miles:

Marriott Rewards is shown on the SPG comparison chart at 5 points = 1 mile for lowest level of redemption. 

5 points = 1 mile is the exchange rate for 10,000 Marriott Rewards points  = 2,000 airline miles with 13 airlines: Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Alaska, British Airways, Continental, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Mexicana, United Airlines, US Airways, Varig Brasil, Virgin Atlantic. 

Marriott Rewards Air Mileage Tables link

Here are some other comparisons I would like to point out regarding points-to-miles exchanges:

(Assume no hotel stays in Marriott Residence Inn or TownePlace Suites.) 

American, Delta and United Airlines: 

  • $5,000 in hotel spend for Marriott Rewards general member = 50,000 points = 15,000 miles.
  • $5,000 in hotel spend for SPG general member = 10,000 points = 10,000 miles for American and Delta or 5,000 miles for United Airlines.

 SPG Gold/Platinum to Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Member Comparison

  • $5,000 in base spend for Marriott Rewards Gold member = 62,500 points = 20,000 miles.
  • $5,000 in base spend for SPG Gold/Platinum member = 15,000 points = 15,000 miles for American and Delta or 7,500 miles for United Airlines.
  • $10,000 in base spend for Marriott Rewards Gold member = 125,000 points = 50,000 miles.
  • $10,000 in base spend for SPG Gold/Platinum member = 30,000 points = 35,000 miles for American and Delta or 17,500 miles for United Airlines.

 

Cathay Pacific, Air France/KLM; Lufthansa Miles & More:

  • $5,000 in hotel spend for Marriott Rewards general member = 50,000 points = 10,500 miles.
  • $5,000 in hotel spend for SPG general member = 10,000 points = 10,000 miles.

 SPG Gold/Platinum to Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Member Comparison 

  • $5,000 in base spend for Marriott Rewards Gold member = 62,500 points = 14,000 miles.
  • $5,000 in base spend for SPG Gold/Platinum member = 15,000 points = 15,000 miles.
  • $10,000 in base spend for Marriott Rewards Gold member = 125,000 points = 35,000 miles.
  • $10,000 in base spend for SPG Gold/Platinum member = 30,000 points = 35,000 miles. 

All in all, Marriott Rewards holds an advantage for most airlines with its points-to-miles exchange. SPG’s primary advantage is for members who earn miles at a faster rate with credit card spend compared to Marriott Rewards credit card. 

Marriott Rewards has the miles advantage for members who earn points primarily from hotel stays.

 

Loyalty Traveler Advice to my readers:

Don’t believe everything you read on hotel loyalty program websites.  The information provided in the SPG frequent guest comparison guide is quite outdated. The lack of attention by SPG in updating the frequent guest program comparison webpage is glaringly apparent as seen from my Loyalty Traveler examination of the numbers.

Loyalty Traveler shout-out to SPG!

Would you like to hire this blogger to help you update the information on your website?

I can use the cash and you need the work to be done to improve the accuracy of the information provided to your readers. I wrote most of this post before breakfast this morning.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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