Does the SPG Ambassador Service Provide Any Real Benefit?

SPG Ambassador ServiceSPG Ambassador Service

Last year, after hitting my 100 required nights, I was assigned an SPG Ambassador. Although I have been an SPG elite for the past 9 years, I never quite hit the 100 night mark, so this was my first experience with an Ambassador. I didn’t want to immediately write about it, as I wanted to give myself enough time to truly experience the program so I could share my thoughts with you.

My experience is unique to me, so I can’t be sure you’ll see the same level of benefit. I’d encourage you to leave comments on this point to share your experience or ask questions.

Welcome to the Ambassador Program

On December 26, 2014, just two days after hitting my 100 nights, I received a welcome email from my Ambassador.

Dear Mr. Hines,

Congratulations to you for staying 100 nights with us this year! You are definitely in elite company and we are thrilled to extend an exclusive invitation to you. Because you have achieved this milestone, I’m reaching out to you to introduce myself as your personal ambassador.

I will be your single point of contact for all of your needs, and I am backed by a global team of ambassadors who are ready to assist you 24/7. I am here for you whether its hotel reservations, trip planning, restaurant recommendations, or assistance with your Starwood Preferred Guest account.

I would love to schedule a time to chat and get to know each other.   I will also be in the office next week on Monday, 29 December 2014 – Wednesday, 31 December 2014  from 10:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. EST, then Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. –  6:30 p.m. EST.   Please let me know what day and time would be best for you for a phone call.

Encouraged by this welcome email, I reached out directly (and immediately) to my Ambassador and we had a great chat about my work schedule, favorite hotels, room preferences, etc. She also wanted to know about my favorite drinks, snacks and sweets. Not knowing if this would ever materialize into anything, I shared my favorite things – Dr Pepper, Pinot Noir and M&M’s. Hey, you asked for honesty, right!

Using My Ambassador for the First Time

Shortly after my initial chat with my Ambassador, I had a trip booked to stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan SoHo Village. I called my Ambassador the day before the trip was scheduled, as a snow storm in New York required my to arrive a day earlier than scheduled. She immediately made the change and sent me a new confirmation. Moments later, I was in an Uber on the way to the airport. Upon my arrival, I was upgraded to a top floor room, and was greeted by a lovely card from my Ambassador, two cold bottles of Dr. Pepper and a Costco sized bag of M&M’s. Amazing!

Change of Ambassador

On April 17, after many conversations via phone and email with my Ambassador (and very happy with my service), I received a heartbreaking email!

Hi Casey,

I am excited to share that I have taken on a leadership role within the ambassador service.  As I transition to my new role, I wanted to introduce you to your new ambassador, who is copied on this email.

I know that you will be in great hands with her. <NAME REMOVED> can be reached by phone at <PHONE NUMBER REMOVED> and will be sending an email to you shortly to set up a time for a quick call so you can get to know each other.

You have been such a pleasure to work with and I cannot thank you enough for your loyalty to SPG.

Oh no. I was just getting comfortable, and now Starwood is throwing a spanner in the works! Oh well, we’ll see what happens.

That same afternoon, I received a phone call from my new Ambassador who reviewed my entire profile with me, asked about my wife and kids special dates and preferences, and reviewed my several upcoming reservations.

Phew – now I am at ease!

My Ongoing Experience 

Fast forward to today (and 84 nights thus far in 2015), and I can say I have relied heavily on my Ambassador for a number of things.

  1. Working in the northeast all winter meant a change to virtually EVERY stay I had booked due to snow. She changed every reservation, without issue and without hassle.
  2. Upgrade success is through the roof. I have been upgraded to a lovely room or suite 9 out of 10 times.
  3. Amenities and treats more often than not. There is often a bottle of wine, a fruit plate, M&M’s or Dr. Pepper in my room when I arrive.
  4. Help with dinner reservations in New York and Washington, DC.
  5. Comfort knowing there is always someone I can count on to help me.

The Best Moment Yet

In the past two weeks, my family and I moved from Arizona to Connecticut. We drove cross-country with our two kids and stayed in a Starwood hotel in every city along our journey – Albuquerque (1 night), St. Louis (1 night), Columbus (1 night), Washington, DC (1 night), New York (2 nights) and Hartford (10 nights – yes 10 nights). As a note, we were upgraded to a suite in every hotel.

Our final day of the journey – August 13, happened to be my son Carson’s 13th birthday. We were in New York (at the highly recommended Westin Grand Central), and enjoyed the afternoon at the Mets game, and then drove up to Hartford that afternoon/evening. Nervous about 10 days in a hotel, where both my wife and I work remotely, and two children in tow, we checked in at the Sheraton Hartford South, in Rocky Hill, CT.

Immediately upon check in, the manager came over and informed me that there are no suites available, but for the duration of our stay, they’ve given us the connecting room for our kids. So, we get a king room, they get a room with two doubles. Incredible!

We head up to the room, open the door to the kids room, and are greeted with a half dozen Happy Birthday balloons, a chocolate cake, a bowl of sour candies, a bowl of gummie bears, and a refrigerator full of root beer – all my son’s favorite things! Oh, and a bottle of wine for mom and dad! A lovely birthday card signed by the hotel staff and my Ambassador. This experience solidified my relationship with Starwood 100%.

Carson Birthday Treats

Carson’s Birthday Surprise

Final Thoughts

Though you may have a different experience, I see incredible value in the Ambassador Program. From solving problems to special recognition, it’s been a truly exceptional experience. I don’t ever go into a stay with expectations of anything other than what I’ve paid for. If I get an upgrade, I am overjoyed. If I don’t, I am fine with it. If I don’t get a welcome amenity, I’m not going to be morose over it. If I do, I feel that much more special. The program cannot be viewed in isolation – one stay or one experience doesn’t define it. The entire year does. And for me, it’s been an amazing year. I’ll re-qualify for the Ambassador program on September 4, and I for one can’t wait for another year!

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