Starwood has been offering hints about their new promotion, but not details, and registration won’t open until May 1 so while others have covered the dribs and drabs I haven’t yet posted on it.
The promotion is called “Nice Choice” and the idea is that it’s a choose-your-own-adventure, you pick the earning period you want and the rewards you want to shoot for.
This premise is consistent with the way that Starwood seems to be thinking about its program — customizing the experience, interacting with members in the way they want, rewarding them with what they value most.
Their new elite benefits let Gold members choose a check-in amenity of points, internet, or a cocktail. Platinums get an added choice of breakfast in addition to their previously existing amenity choices. 50 night Platinums get to express their preferences as to when they’d like to be upgraded (Hyatt’s confirmed suite upgrades are still a richer benefit in my view..). 75 night Platinums get to choose when they checkin and checkout, and 100 night Platinums get a designated person at Starwood to help customize their stays.
Loyalty Lobby has the details on the summer promo, not yet released by Starwood:
Choose your own earning period (You can only choose one)
Choose whatever you want to earn during (You can only choose one)
Awards (Free Nights & Redemption discounts)
*There is no switching of registration codes or earning periods after registration. No exceptions.
* Registration from May 1- June 30, 2012
Here is a summary of the offers:
Double Points beginning with 2nd stay. No limits.
Every 6 nights, get 3k Starpoints (max of 9k)
Earn 500 bonus Starpoints per night at Sheratons worldwide (no limits). Online-bookings ONLY
Stay 15 nights, get Triple Starpoints on all stays retroactively. No limits.
10 nights, get 1 Free Weekend Night (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards. Weekends are Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun.
Stay 20 nights, get 1 25% percent off redemption Award (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards
Stay 4 nights; get US$50 SPG Award Cert (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights; get $50 or EUR50 Westin @ home discount code (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights, get $50 or EUR50 Sheraton @ home discount code (max of 3)
Stay 5 nights, earn 1 bonus night toward elite status (max of 3 elite qualifying nights).
Stay 10 nights, earn 3 bonus nights toward elite status (max of 6 nights).
I really like choices, different members will value different things. I find the merchandise rewards weak, but those usually are, the best value from frequent flyer and frequent guest programs comes from getting access to things those programs can buy cheaper than members can on their own (flights and free nights!).
The free night promotions are alright but nothing compared to what Starwood and other chains have offered in the past, last summer’s free resort night promotion was outstanding, the year before the free weekend night promotion was far better, both largely because they didn’t have the high stay threshold in order to earn them. And of course the gold standard is Hyatt’s Faster Free Nights, a free night every two stays, which Gold Passport hasn’t offered in a couple of years largely because they haven’t needed to with an uptick in travel.
For members that will be assisted by additional nights towards their elite status, I’d consider that the best option, especially with Starwood’s program now rewarding Platinums who stay more nights more than just those who qualify on stays, and offering more benefits for incrementally more nights. Grab both the Starwood American Express and Starwood small business American Express for 5 nights apiece towards status, load up on nights towards status on this promo, and burn points at low category properties maybe near an airport for additional nights now that award stays count towards status — to stretch towards 50, 75, or 100 nights.
But for folks who won’t benefit from the extra nights towards status, bonus points are a decent standby and ‘better than a hole in the head’ as my grandfather used to say.