Starwood Launches SPG Pro: More Points for Planners

Sep 3, 2014

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Update: Marriott and SPG have decided to discontinue the SPG Pro program.

Starwood just announced their new loyalty program for meeting and travel professionals, SPG Pro which will officially launch in October of this year. Basically, the new program broadens the scope of those who will get rewarded for planning group/meeting travel and enhances the earn ratio for SPG elite members.  SPG is really encouraging all members to bring business to SPG hotels, regardless of if they are a travel professional or not to earn Starpoints and status for the business they influence. SPG is also going to streamline their loyalty program for professional travel agents and registered administrative assistants (a program mostly run in Europe/Africa) to bring them under the SPG Pro program as well.

Redefining the Meeting Planner
Previously, through the Starwood Preferred Planner program, professional meeting planners earned Starpoints into a professional SPG account which was separate from their personal one. To earn elite status, it was based on spending in which the planner would have to spend $100,000 a year on meetings to be awarded SPG Platinum status or $50,000 a year to get SPG Gold, but the way that you will now earn points and elite status for planning meetings and events is changing and will benefit those who may not have been able to hit those big numbers, but still want help getting nights for elite status qualification. If you used to hit the $100,000 mark for Platinum, you’d need to book 1,000 eligible room nights to hit the 50 qualifying nights for Platinum, which is likely less than the $100,000 spend requirement in the old program.

Per the new program rules, registered professionals, as well as SPG Members who influence group, event and corporate travel, will begin earning Starpoints for business booked. Additionally, SPG Pro means that people who book travel will have the opportunity to earn Starpoints and elite status with SPG even if it’s just a friend of family member. Another key enhancement is that you will also earn your SPG elite bonus on top of the meeting spend- so 50% for Gold and Platinum and 75% for 75-night Platinum and higher. Points are capped at 20,000 for base members, 30,000 for Golds, and 40,000 for 75-night Platinums

SPG Pro Earning Structure
SPG Pro Earning Structure

How To Earn:

  • Earn 1 Starpoint for every US$3 you book for meetings and travel on behalf of others (same as the current set-up)
  • 50% bonus for Gold and Platinum members, 75% bonus for Platinum 75 members
  • For every 20 group room nights or room nights you book for others, you’ll earn 1 eligible night toward elite status

Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s SVP of Loyalty and Partnership Marketing stated that 34% of SPG’s Platinum members actually book meetings and events in hotels each year, but not all of those people might be enrolled in Starwood Preferred Planner so they aren’t receiving rewards. With the SPG Pro program, SPG members who book travel will be able to earn both Starpoints and Elite Qualifying Nights.

Other Changes
SPG is also streamlining the  Star Choice program, which is primarily a Europe/Africa program that allows administrative assistants to earn Star Choice points for business they bring to SPG. Right now, Star Choice is a separate loyalty program with a different earning and redeeming structure. This program will be transitioned to SPG Pro in October and Star Choice points will be converted to SPG points. If you’re currently a Star Choice member, I’d take a look at the current Star Choice redemptions and decide whether they’re more lucrative than if you had traditional Starpoints before the programs merge.

Overall Thoughts
I think this a great enhancement to the Starwood Preferred Guest program since it bridges the gap between professional planners and everyday people who book corporate travel or even groups of friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if other hotel companies were to follow a similar structure since meeting and group travel is an extremely lucrative part of the hotel market and it makes sense to reward influencers.

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