Today, Starwood Hotels announced what they are calling a loyalty industry game changer with the launch of SPG Pro. A new and innovate program aimed at the B2B community, SPG Pro will replace Starwood’s business loyalty programs and become fully integrated with the Starwood Preferred Guest Program. Not sure if this applies to you? Keep reading…it just might.
At an breakfast hosted at the Chatwal Hotel, a Luxury Collection property in New York City, Starwood Preferred Guest Sr. Vice President, Chris Holdren, spoke about the program which is set to launch October 15, 2014. Today, B2B accounts for nearly 70% of Starwood’s overall room revenue. Starwood is looking to build relationships with the next generation meeting and travel professional. A 1% gain in this market would mean an additional $80 million dollars in growth for Starwood. Starwood is counting on the success of the program and are kicking it off with a $30 million dollar marking campaign.
The SPG loyalty program was introduced in 1999 to reward frequent travelers and made headlines with its policy of no blackout dates – an industry first. Starwood is calling this the biggest change to the program in its 15 year history. Historically Starwood had three programs targeted at the business community – Starwood Pro, for travel professional/travel agents, Starwood Meeting & Events for event planners, and Star Choice, a referral program for administrative assistants. Now, SPG Pro will allow all types of travel professionals to earn SPG points, elite night stay credits and all the benefits that come with SPG elite membership.
So what does this really mean? It means Starwood is making it more rewarding for professionals to build relationships within the Starwood travel community. For the first time, travel agents will have the opportunity to earn benefits based on the business they send to Starwood and meeting planners will earn many more points than ever before.
Today, Starwood Preferred Planners (meeting/event planners) earn one point for every $3 of eligible group revenue, less taxes, surcharges, gratuities, to a maximum of 20,000 Starpoints per contract. Under Starwood Pro a planner will earn points based on their elite tier level. Instead of earning one point for every $3, a gold or platinum member would earn 3 points for every $3 spent, a platinum member with 75 or more nights would earn 4 points for every $3 spent. For every 20 group room nights booked, an SPG Pro would earn 1 night credit towards elite status (gold status starts at 25 nights per year.)
Don’t think this program is targeted at you? Think again. The next generation of meeting planners and travel professionals is a broad and diverse group. Planning your wedding at a Starwood resort? You’re a planner. Holding a corporate meeting at a hotel, you’re a planner. Part of the marketing campaign for SPG Pro will focus on travel professional like Michael, the owner of Smartflyer. The campaign shows Michael meeting with a W New York Insider on behalf of a client. Smartflyer is a full-service travel firm catering to both the leisure and corporate traveler. Their team arranges exceptional, one-of-a-kind experiences that are truly designed with the individual clients in mind and will now earn SPG benefits while doing so.
With the launch of SPG Pro, and its full integration with the SPG program, Starwood is looking to reward the people who are taking care of their guests by extending the recognition and rewards of the loyalty program with them. If you’re already a Starwood Preferred Planner, Starwood Pro or Star Choice member you will automatically be enrolled in the new program. If you’re not a member, you can sign up on the SPG Pro website.