When Starwood introduced a panoply of new elite benefits at the beginning of last year, the most notable was “suite night awards” for Platinums.
They aren’t ‘confirmed suite upgrades’ in the sense we’d usually think about them (confirmed at booking if available) but rather confirmed up to five days in advance of arrival if available. That amounts to expressing a preference for when you get the upgrade, and putting yourself more or less to the front of the line when you do.
These are available to 50 night platinums only, which means they are not afforded to Platinums who earn their status based n 25 stays rather than on nights.
At the time I observed, and asked the SPG folks about, the way this leaves their meeting planners out in the cold as well. Starwood lets meeting planners earn Platinum status after $100,000 in meeting spend — but that spend doesn’t earn ‘nights’ and so they weren’t 50 night platinums. They didn’t get suite night awards, and thus along with the 25 stay elites they were in some sense ‘lesser Platinums’.
Meeting business is important to any chain, and they all have programs to reward meeting planners. In some ways this was likely an oversight in the benefits restructuring, or one detail they didn’t want to wait to resolve.
Now they’ve finally taken steps to address it.
They’re also offering a 50% bonus on Starpoints earned from meeting spend in 2013, 1 Starpoint per $2 instead of 1 point per $3.
So far they say this is for 2013 only, but presumably if it incentivizes meeting spend the way they hope then they will continue it. The limited-time offer is listed alongside the regular benefits on Starwood’s meeting planner page
The change to status-earning allows planners to become 50 night planners (or more!) and to combine their stay activity (including award nights redeemed with their meeting planner points as Starwood counts award nights towards status) with their meeting activity in order to earn better status than the 25 stay equivalent Platinum level that not only doesn’t come with suite night awards but also doesn’t come with bonus Starpoints and 24 hour checkin (subject to availability) that one gets at 75 nights, and the ‘Ambassador’ designated Starwood representative at 100 nights.
Of course Starwood’s meeting planner program still requires spend or a whole bunch of group nights, it isn’t quite as easy to game as Marriott’s meeting program is.
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