Jun062012

Another look at SPG Nice Choice

Starwood Hotels have been off my radar since the “Nice Choice” promotion launched May 1. The basic idea is the SPG member picks the three month period of May-July, June-August or July-September for the promotion. Now that we are a week into June I am revisiting SPG Nice Choice for another analysis of the offers.

SPG members must register for SPG “Nice Choice” by June 30, 2012. I had to go back and look at the choices again. After a second close look at the promotion bonuses, I still think this is a poor value promotion unless you are a true frequent guest who can easily pull down 10 nights during the three month promotion period.

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You have until June 30, 2012 to register for this promotionand all your eligible paid Starwood Hotel stays during your three month promotion period completed prior to promotion registration date count.

Consider the options carefully. You can’t change your earning option after you register your choice.

Here are the 11 SPG Nice Choice earning options:

  1. Double Starpoints beginning with 2nd stay.Good offer if you are a high spender and will not stay 15 nights for Triple Points.
  2. 3,000 Bonus Starpoints every 6 nights.Maximum 9,000 bonus points after 18 nights.
  3. Triple Starpoints after 15 nightsfor all stays during three months you choose for this promotion. 3x points applied retroactively to all stays. Best deal for high spenders with 15 nights.
  4. 500 Starpoints for every paid night stayed at Sheraton.
  5. Free Weekend Night at Category 1-5 Hotel earned every ten (10) paid nights.Maximum is two certificates after 20 nights. This choice has leverage potential for a low spender. Potential to earn $350 free night for about $800 to $1,000 in hotel spend. The certificate expires December 23, 2012.
  6. 25% off Starpoints Redemption Award after 20 nights valid for category 1-5 hotels. Maximum earning is two certificates. I do not think this is a good value award offer since it is restricted to category 5 hotels, stays of up to five nights, and is not applicable for a discount on the regular 5th Night Free award pricing. This means the highest value for this certificate is a category 5 peak season stay of 3 or 4 nights. Category 5 in low season is 12,000 points per night or 16,000 points in peak season. The best savings with the 25% off award certificate is a 12,000 to 16,000 points savings on a Category 5 hotel stay of four nights. Use the 25% discount certificate for five nights and 25% off is a marginal discount compared to the normally available 5th Night Free 20% off reward. Category 5 hotel for 5 nights is 45,000 (low) to 60,000 (peak) Starpoints with this 25% discount. The same hotel would be slightly higher at 48,000 (low) or 64,000 (peak) using a 5th night free award. The 25% off certificate expires December 23, 2012.
  7. US $50 SPG Award Certificate after 4 nights.Maximum 3 certificates after 12 nights.
  8. US$50 or €50 Westin Home Collection Discount Code after 4 nights.Maximum 3 certificates after 12 nights.
  9. US$50 or €50 Sheraton At Home Discount Code after 4 nights.Maximum 3 certificates after 12 nights.
  10. Elite Qualifying Night every 5 nights. Maximum 3 elite qualifying nights. Note: These only count as one elite night and do notcount as one elite stay.
  11. Three Elite Qualifying Nights every 10 nights. Maximum 9 elite qualifying nights.

All these choices are based on paid hotel stays. SPG Award stays and SPG Cash & Points stays do not count for earning these bonuses.

 

What is the best value choice for a small fish with few nights?

Here is the way I want to look at the SPG Nice Choice offer in this analysis. In my opinion Hyatt and SPG have chosen to focus on their most frequent guests for 2012 and pulled back on their promotion offers for the casual guest. This is apparent when the promotion options are looked at by the number of nights a SPG member stays for Nice Choice.

Starwood Hotel stays and what “Nice Choice” you can earn:

  • 1 night = 500 bonus points at Sheraton ($15 rebate value)
  • 2 nights = 1,000 bonus points at Sheraton Hotels or double points for two stays at any Starwood brands. It will take $500 in spend to earn 1,000 bonus points on second 1-night stay. ($30 rebate value)
  • 3 nights = 1,500 bonus points at Sheraton Hotels or double points if two stays. It will take $750 in spend to earn 1,500 bonus points on second and third stays for any SPG brands. ($45 rebate value)
  • 4 nights = $50 Starwood, Westin or Sheraton certificate ($50 value). 2,000 bonus points if Sheraton Hotels ($60 value).
  • 5 nights = 1 elite qualifying night (value-limited to few members who will reach status with 1 elite night).  2,500 bonus points if all Sheraton Hotels ($75 value). Double bonus points is better if spending $1,250 with at least two stays for 5 nights or if your stays are not at Sheraton.
  • 6 nights = 3,000 bonus points for stays at any brand (value = $90). At six nights the 3,000 bonus points is more favorable than the 500 points per Sheraton night since any brand can be used.
  • 10 nights = 1 free weekend night up to a category 5 hotel (value $150 to $350). 10 nights in 3 months is a high level of nights to reach for many travelers. Another choice is to register for and earn 3 elite qualifying nights for 10 paid nights. If this will get you to 50 nights for SPG Platinum elite in 2012 then the value for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 will likely be more than 1 free weekend night. Remember the bonus is elite qualifying nights and not elite stays. Elite nights are no help to me since I always qualify on Starwood stays. There is a big gap between qualifying for SPG Platinum on 25 stays, generally 25 one-night stays for this traveler, and qualifying on 50 nights.
  • 12 nights = 6,000 bonus points ($180 value). Or 3 gift cards ($150 value).
  • 15 nights = Triple points for an additional 4 bonus points per $1. Spend $3,000 on those 15 nights and you earn 12,000 bonus points. But I personally don’t average $200 per night on my Starwood Hotel stays for that level of bonus points. I am more of a $100 per night frequent guest.
  • 20 nights = 2 free weekend nights. Or 25% off a SPG award redemption. Or 6 elite qualifying nights. Of course you can always benefit from triple points with the 20 nights offer if you have high spend.

Bottom line is I think SPG is too focused on its top elites with numerous hotel nights required for this summer promotion. The Nice Choice options are a small rebate with poor value bonuses and neglect most SPG membership who might stay 3 to 5 nights over three months.

My attention and hotel stay plans moved to Club Carlson where my wife and I can pick up about 300,000 points with 6 one-night stays at Radisson, Country Inn and Park Inn. That is good for 6 to 20 free nights at 1,100 hotels around the world, which is as many properties as Starwood Hotels.

Marriott Rewards will get us another free night certificate for every two stays. My wife and I can earn from one to six free nights after 2 to 12 nights at Marriott brand hotels from June 1 to August 31.

If my wife and I stay 20 hotel nights over the next three months of summer I can plan for us to earn at least 12 free nights and possibly more than 20 free nights for our $2,000 or so in hotel spend. Those free nights will reduce my hotel spend for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 by $2,000 or more.

From 2003 until February 2012 I was SPG Platinum. I dropped to SPG Gold for 2012. A promotion like SPG Nice Choice is not lucrative enough for me to move my summer hotel spend to Starwood Hotels as a SPG Gold member and it looks like I might not qualify for SPG Platinum again this year. I guess I will register for July to September promotion period and hope October to December brings a better value SPG promotion.

I like Starwood Hotels and SPG Platinum membership benefits, but in this economy I have to put my hotel spend into hotel stays with the highest rebate value. High rebate value on hotel spend is not found in SPG Nice Choice when there are options like Club Carlson and Marriott free nights this summer.

Two Loyalty Traveler posts from May 2012 provided more detailed analysis of the 11 SPG Nice Choice promotion bonus options:

SPG Nice Choice – My advice is don’t choose yet (May 1).

SPG Nice Choice Elite Credit, Hotel Credit and Merchandise (May 2).

Loyalty Traveler June 2012 Guide has links to Club Carlson, Marriott Rewards and other good value promotions for summer travel.

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Agree, Club Carlson will be my hotel program for the rest of the year, all my business and leisure will go there, hope to do many C+P to maximize the points – and contrary to other programs that dont issue points on C+P, club carlson is sustainable becuase you can earn points on the cash portion so it is ongoing.

  2. Hi Ric, thanks for the review, again. I also think the program brings benefits only for business travelers who stay in SPG hotels for months (I was lucky in 2010, as I could stay for almost a year – Mon-Thu. – in a Fourpoints hotel, paid by the company)…

    Right now I’m planning to spend 10 nights in September at a “very” cheap Sheraton (~ 70 EUR/night) … so I guess offer no. 4 will be a good deal.

    … in total, I still need 17 nights this year, then I would stay SPG Gold in 2013, which means I’d become Lifetime Gold (for being elite 5 years).

    Do you have any recommendations for any Starwood hotel offers in Europe, where I can stay for the lowest rate per night, to complete the last 7 nights?

    Thanks, Martin

  3. I agree with the above assessment. I am participating in the Hyatt Airline promo and Club Carlson promo. SPG nice choice is a disappointing promo. I could put in 20+ nights in the 3 month period and was going to chose 500 points per night at Sheraton (my base rate is 105-120 mostly) for the July-Sep period.

  4. You left out the 18 night point level…………..3,000 bonus points X3 for 9,000 bonus points or 500 per night plus the regular points for 18 days. My choice as the best option.

  5. @Rona – the 6 nights for 3,000 points is included. I did not include it again at 18 nights. That is okay at 500 points per night, but not that good a promotion comparatively when looking back over 10 years of SPG offers.

    I use to have a SPG rule of thumb that I would get 1,000 bonus points per night for 1-night stays.

    The one free weekend night after 10 nights is the only option here that meets that standard.

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