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Starwood just launched a brand new culinary program for SPG members that provides discounts at over 500 restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as other perks like online cooking classes taught by Starwood chefs. Just in time for the launch, Starwood built a brand new SPG Restaurants & Bars website, on which guests can type in the name of the city they're traveling to and find out what discounts they're eligible for.
But, as with any major points program, not all hotels are created equal. So we did a little digging to find out just which cities are offering the biggest bang for your buck.
Click below to find out which ones top our list!
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On the sidelines, if you've checked into a Starwood property over the past few weeks, you will have received a token of the brand's
appreciation burning desire to make you, too, a member of the SPG ambassadors program. At Aloft, for example, all guests are receiving little purple foil-wrapped chocolate bars. Bearing the slogan, "Being an SPG member has never been sweeter," the yummy snack directs you to Starwood's website to learn more about the program.
Knowing how much of a weakness everyone (including us) has for chocolate, we're guessing they've been successful in, at the least, catching people's attention.
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Remember two years ago when we first got wind of this super-secret Starwood Ambassadors program? Well, it turns out the program is now going public.
Today Starwood unveiled a couple of big changes to their Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program starting on March 1st which includes personal ambassadors for SPG members who have spent 100 nights annually in Starwood hotels.
Starwood’s ambassadors work one-on-one with guests to understand their preferences and what matters to them on each trip to deliver a customized experience on property. Ambassadors also provide services beyond the hotel and are even empowered to assist guests when they’re not traveling
SPG also introduced a new loyalty tier for the devoted SPGers--SPG Lifetime which gives guests who stay 250 total nights and who have maintained their elite status for five years (consecutive or not), a lifetime of SPG Gold status. Members who tally up 500 stays and who have maintained their elite status for ten years (consecutive or not), will become SPG Platinum for life.
We spent the other night catching up on with some old "friends"--the hotel loyalty program threads posted on Flyertalk, which is THE place to go for any of your loyalty and rewards program concerns.
And after reading through this particular thread from last year about Starwood Hotels "Ambassadors", we're starting to believe that the new super-secret program Starwood recently launched is NOT anything different.
Since this gets a bit confusing, we'll walk you through it. Around February of 2009, high-ranking SPG members were contacted by Starwood Ambassadors offering up personal concierge-like services. The FlyerTalk members in the thread listed above go back and forth about their experiences being contacted and listing what they were offered by said Ambassadors. (We've posted some of those comments below.)
Then late last week, Barb DeLollis at USA Today reported that Starwood had launched a new loyalty program, separate from SPG, but that does involve the use of Ambassadors. However, a Starwood rep assured her that the program is different from the pilot program the FlyerTalk members were dishing about last February.
But is it really different?
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Now we're really hoping Starwood's new loyalty program gets cool W kaleidoscopes to carry around with them.
This secret program is different from the existing SPG program and much of it is still under wraps. All that Starwood would say yesterday was that the members of this top-secret program (who are only invited by Starwood to join) would have access to Starwood Ambassadors. These ambassadors act more like concierges who can custom-tailor hotel experiences for the guests. But of course, we wanted to know more.
So we called out for folks to tell us more about this VIP program--in short, we wanted our own Deepthroat. We asked and we received. A reader wrote in last night:
Loyalty Program News / Starwood Hotels / Starwood Preferred Guest / Barb DeLollis / Hotel News / Starwood Ambassadors / → All Tags
Do members of the secret loyalty program get a W spyglass too?
Apparently, Starwood is trying to identify new levels of important guests aside from their frequency of hotel stays. Here's what Mark Vondrasek, Starwood's senior vice president of interactive and loyalty marketing, told Barb today:
Starwood invited "several thousand" travelers to test the program. "We looked at factors beyond just frequency, which is the key measure in traditional hotel loyalty programs," he said. "For instance, we evaluated factors including guest's profitability, their lifetime growth potential and their ability to influence travel by others. We even targeted some travelers who were loyal not to Starwood, but to our competitors. " (Emphasis mine.)
There's no real scoop on what incentives the program gives its members but it looks as if they will have access to someone called a Starwood Ambassador in order to create "compelling and individually tailored experiences" for the guest.
The program is also so top secret that Vondrasek would not release its name or the way it contacted new members to join.