Starwood Preferred Guest rolled out a bunch of changes to their program back in 2012, all of which were promising:
- Lifetime Gold And Platinum Status
- Suite Night Awards For Staying 50 Nights In a Year
- Personal Ambassador For Staying 100 Nights In a Year
- 4 Starpoints Per Dollar And A Guaranteed Early Check-in Benefit
- New Amenity Choices For Gold And Platinum Members.
I was certainly excited about all of these. I had begun to prefer Hyatt much more than Starwood, and these changes brought Starwood closer to Hyatt in my opinion. One of the benefits that, at first blush, seemed positive was the implementation of Suite Night Awards.
I received 10 Suite Night Awards based on my previous stay history, and those were due to expire at the end of 2013. But, SPG decided to extend them:
People who earned these last year now have until April 30, 2014 to use them.
And, frankly, I can’t see why it matters unless they plan to make changes to the program.
I’ve heard from a bunch of folks who had quite a bit of trouble using them. And, even though I was awarded 10 of them, I’ve only managed to use 3, which IIRC was for one reservation. I recently had a stay where my request didn’t clear prior to check-in, and when I inquired at the front desk they said the only thing left for suites was a smaller suite that they wouldn’t upgrade me to. Now, the front desk could have been wrong about that, but in practice, I’d say Starwood needs improvement in this area. It’s often unclear to me what suites are for upgrades and which ones weren’t.
I haven’t seen a vast improvement in the number of suite upgrades I cleared (rather, I think I’ve seen a reduction in my percentage) since the introduction of Suite Night Awards. I also haven’t run into anyone else who’s seeing a notable increase in their ability to secure suites.
The awards themselves are confirmable 5 days out. That makes it difficult for some who are angling for a suite versus the ability to confirm one with Hyatt Diamond suite upgrades. That being said, 5 days is still fine for my purposes (mostly family stays) where I might hold two rooms at a property up until 5 days out to see if the Suite Night Award clears. If it does, I cancel a room without penalty. If not, I keep both rooms. Some of the higher end resorts have longer cancelation periods, so be aware of this.
All in all, I applauded SPG when they announced the change, but was only cautiously optimistic. After a year of not much improvement, I’m not terribly motivated by these awards. And, the fact that SPG seems to be extending the expiration dates for a lot of folks leads me to believe SPG didn’t see what they expected for redemption rates. I applaud them for extending the expiration but I hope they’ll work to make these Suite Night Awards more useful.