Starwood Introduces New Platinum Benefit Choices for Those That Are Frustrated With Suite Upgrades

Starwood updated its terms and conditions to detail a new offering for Platinum members who stay 50 nights in a year with the program, allowing them to choose Suite Night Awards or something else.

What Are Suite Night Awards?

For the past 3 years Starwood has offered (10) ‘Suite Night Awards’ — an opportunity to confirm an upgrade up to 5 nights prior to arrival, rather than at check-in.

These aren’t confirmed upgrades in the sense that Hyatt offers them to Diamonds. They aren’t confirmed at booking, where you get to guarantee them at the time you make a reservation. These should be thought of as ‘an opportunity to express a preference for when you get upgraded’, ten nights a year where you get to have priority for your upgrades.

The problem seems to be that many members express priority at the same times, because while no doubt there are members making great use of these many have also been frustrated with their use. At the end of 2013 Starwood even extended unused suite night awards to give members a better opportunity to use them.

The thing that is revolutionary about the Suite Night Award process is that it’s managed by SPG based on published inventory from the hotel, so their algorithms determine who gets the upgrade instead of the vagaries of an individual property (choosing not to upgrade members) or check-in agent. No doubt there are hotels that play games with their inventory, but centralizing the actual assignment is an improvement for most.

Platinum 50 Night Members Can Choose Other Benefits Instead of Suite Night Awards

For those who don’t value suites, or who are frustrated with their experience trying to use Suite Night Awards, they’ll be able to choose other benefits instead.

Here’s what the new terms say:

9.4.a. Choice of Additional Benefit (50 Eligible Nights). A Platinum Preferred Guest who has 50 Eligible Nights in a Qualifying Period is eligible to receive one additional benefit from the list of available benefits listed at www.spg.com/P50 (a “P50 Benefit”). The list of available P50 Benefits on www.spg.com/P50 is subject to change at any time. Once a Platinum Preferred Guest becomes eligible to receive a P50 Benefit, he/she must choose his/her P50 Benefit by visiting www.spg.com/P50 and selecting a P50 Benefit. A selection must be made through www.spg.com/P50 and may not be made through a Customer Contact Center. All P50 Benefit selections are final and may not be changed after they are made. In the event that an eligible Platinum Preferred Guest fails to select a P50 Benefit by January 14th of the year following the applicable Qualifying Period, such Platinum Preferred Guest will receive 10 Suite Night Awards. “Suite Night Awards” may be redeemed for advance confirmable upgrades for select, premium rooms or standard suites on a per room, per night basis, subject to availability and the applicable terms and conditions set forth on www.spg.com/P50

What Are the New Benefits?

The ‘P50’ benefit website doesn’t detail the new benefits yet.

My understanding, and I have an email in to Chris Holdren at Starwood on this now, is that the choices will include bonus points and award redemption discounts.

The website will be up for making choices ‘in March’ — they need to ready this quickly since there will be Platinum 50 night members qualifying in mid-February at least.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Gary points out that for 2015, Plat 50+ members will have options in lieu of SNAs and he speculates it could be bonus points or award redemption discounts.  Lucky writes that the options are a choice of 10 Suite Night Awards, four free rides with Uber up to $25 each, Gift Gold status to a friend or family member, TSA PreCheck fee waiver, $100 Amazon gift card, or Donate $100 to UNICEF.  This partially addresses the topic, but doesn’t help in scenarios where Plats actually want a suite upgrade and will continue to suite-block to guarantee a confirmed suite. […]

Comments

  1. Once upon a time SPG was the leader of promotions and innovation for all members.Today the program has over priced redemption for free free nights and an emphasis on Platinum heavy weights making the regular Platinum lites benefits and recognition watered down in everyway
    They have compliacted their program and made it layered
    Thank you to all the other programs for at least not complicating their schemes
    As for many Sheratons they are fast becoming aging stingy Holiday Inns in appeal and in dire need of smart renovations and improved offerings
    An SPG club lounge these days especially in Sheraton if you can find one looks like the company is going out of business with whats they are offering and stocking in amenities
    Its a company that has clearly lost some of its way
    So sad
    Im back at Marriott sadly and Hyatts happily and even do I dare say Hiltons

  2. to comment above. though a newly minted platinum light I don’t feel any different to gold status (apart slightly better fed at breakfast). I seem to be getting the same room as I was last year, but the year is young. Not a great incentive to stay with SPG more than necessary as I get most of these benefits with the SPG card. Time will tell.

  3. If effective starting qualifications in 2015, it will not do anything for those that lost many SNAs. It would be easy for SPG to offer 5k points per SNA expired, I hope they do that.

  4. Plat 100 here (with 200-230 nights/yr total) and I agree with #2 and #3 above, rarely get upgrades, you have to do the old trick of checking the reservations site to see if suites are available and then pull the do you know who I am card to get a suite (it’s tiring and it shouldn’t be that way or else they shouldn’t advertise that you will get the best room available). Continental breakfast amenity at most hotels is on par with what you get for free at Spring Hill Suites or Hyatt Place.

    I mostly make SPG my #2 choice after Hyatt because of the high value of SPG currency. Also as a rare Delta flyer, SPG Plat does get me some basic Delta benefits via Crossover Rewards which is nice when I have no choice but to fly Delta. I get treated the best at Hyatt and Marriott.

    I would welcome the discounted awards.

  5. I wonder what hotel types are visited for most of the SPG Plat lites above who seem to never get upgraded. When I was only Plat lite, I got upgraded to standard suites or even more pretty often, and now that I’m Plat 75 (96 nights last year), I get upgraded almost always. I’ve only once tried to use SNAs, and got the SNA–and triple upgrade into a specialty suite–at the StR San Francisco. I most typically stay at Westin, Le Meridien, W, and StR properties, the higher end of the SPG portfolio, so maybe SPG Plat tends to give more benefit at its higher end properties than it does at its budget/midrange properties? Overall, I LOVE SPG. I always get recognized, I always get upgraded, I usually get upgraded into at least a junior suite/standard suite, and I often get further upgraded even beyond that. I usually get full breakfast or a buffet free of charge or for a very reduced fee. I also love Hyatt (mostly for PH and Hyatt Regency, since those tend to be the only ones that compete the SPG lineup I most often use) but there just aren’t enough of those. Hilton and Marriott are almost always midrange hotels that don’t really feel upscale IMO, although they are everywhere…but even as Marriott Gold (vis a vis my UA Lifetime Gold status) and Hilton Diamond I’ve only rarely been upgraded to a suite, and usually only get upgraded a single room category. SPG also allows me to transfer points to SPG hotels OR 30 airlines, so I love that diversity of choice. To me, SPG is the best for my purposes, but perhaps it has as much to do with all of that as the more upscale/luxury brand of hotels I’m most often choosing.

  6. Agree there are too many old Sheratons that are in dire need of a complete overhaul. Quality also varies significantly between properties. Westin seems to be a bit more consistent but there are much fewer of them.

    As for upgrade chance, my experience is pretty good as long as you aren’t expecting to get upgraded at a Sheraton/Westin during weekdays when everyone else staying are frequent traveling Platinum.

  7. https://www.spgpromos.com/50nightsbenefit/?EM=VTY_SPG_P50_PROMOTION

    I love spg! I also only like to stay at the higher end spg category hotels. I am recognized being a member at those. I am about to become gold member and interested and excited to see how different I am treated. As for redeeming free nights I gain points easily now with uber being connected. I also like the delta crossover. So far so good for me. I like to hear the input from you longer standing spg members!

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