The Insider Scoop on Starwood’s New “Your World Rewards”

The new Starwood Emirates partnership has just gone live: Your World Rewards

    starwood emirates partnership your world rewards

Details on the Starwood Emirates Partnership

A week ago part of the story leaked early when a Starwood website went up with the information unintentionally.

What they’re doing with Emirates is very similar to Starwood’s partnership with Delta, Crossover Rewards (minus the upgrades; complimentary domestic or short haul ugprades are very much an American concept).

Here are the specifics:.

  • Starwood Gold and Platinum members receive 1 Starpoint per US dollar spent when flying Emirates in (in addition to miles earned for the flight itself).
  • Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold, and Platinum members earn 1 bonus Skywards point per US dollar spent when staying with Starwood (in addition to the SPG points earned for the stay).
  • Starwood Platinums receive elite priority check-in and boarding with Emirates and e-gate benefits
  • Emirates Gold and Platinum members get priority check-in, late check-out, and free internet with Starwood.

So Starwood Platinums are effectively Emirates Silver-lites and Emirates Gold elites and higher are effectively Starwood Golds without the 50% bonus earning of Starpoints and modest room upgrades. And all elites in both programs get more points.

Registration goes live November 19. Benefits kick in immediately after that.

I spoke with Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President for Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital about the new offering and a wide range of other topics.

Chris describes Your World Rewards as “similar to Crossover” with key benefits being that “Skywards elite members and SPG elite members will earn dual currency when they fly Emirates or stay at Starwood.”

Giving More Benefits While Not Taking Anything Away from Their Own Elites

The interesting thing about these partnerships is that they really do not give out anything to another program’s members that trumps the benefits received by each program’s own members.

That doesn’t make the benefits free, these are expensive programs to run because they involve each program awarding a substantial number of points that they wouldn’t otherwise. Starwood is buying a whole lot of Delta miles (and vice versa) so they need to get substantial incremental business in return. Seeing Starwood extend the concept with another airline underscores that they must view their Delta partnership as a success in this regard.

The importance of giving something to members while not diluting the experiences of their own members was point that Chris emphasized, describing Starwood Preferred Guest as “very protective of elite tiers.” So we “don’t see us at SPG gifting those a lot.”

Some type of status match or gifted status isn’t as interesting as crafting a deeper partnership that looks at the travel experience holistically and comes up with the right recognition and rewards.

…[S]tay Starwood and fly Delta or Emirates truly maximizing the value members are receiving on both, it’s important to us out of respect for our members.

We’ve taken a different path than some others, we strongly believe not [recognition is not] something that’s transactional. It goes much deeper and experiential and includes recognition and reward components without devaluing loyalty of people who have stayed 25 nights for gold or 50 nights to get platinum status.

The references to ‘unlike some others’ reminds me that I just received Hilton Diamond status by virtue of being an American Airlines 1000,000 mile flyer. I also of course met whatever other targeting criteria was used.

Interestingly, in similar shoes I’d probably be taking the Hilton route. I would buy an airline’s top tier elite mailing list and give those members enhanced treatment and a big mileage bonus for trying my brand. It’s both more targeted and less expensive. Starwood takes a different path.

Your World Rewards Extends the Crossover Rewards Framework to a Key World Market

Chris shared that a majority of Starwood’s elites in the US have registered for Crossover Rewards. They’re seeing greater guest satisfaction and greater revenue from extending points and elite courtesies to Delta’s elites.

So with the new Starwood Emirates partnership they’re “continuing to find the right airline partners around the world to create deep relationships” with as a key part of Starwood Preferred Guest strategy. He sees Emirates as “a great airline with natural synergies” and noted that their membership base in Dubai and the Middle East has grown rapidly (a recent quadrupling) — indeed, that there are more Starwood hotels in Dubai than any other city after New York.

Both Emirates and Delta are global airlines, but the majority of registrants live in the U.S. So Starwood looks at where members are and where their hotels are and identifies partners that fit with the brand and service reputation of their program.

More Airline Partners Coming.. Soon?

Though Chris insists both Delta and Emirates are global brands, I see each as filling a specific geographic niche in Starwood’s partnerships. They can’t really do a Delta and an American, or an Emirates and an Etihad. But they could do something in Asia Pacific, they could do something in Europe. And if these partnerships are successful, as the Delta one seems to be, why not?

Chris’ reply? “We’re always looking to evaluate new partners,” and he noted that “next time” (he did refer to a next time!) when they bring one online they’ll do it without leaking it a week early on their website!

Here’s the video to introduce the new Starwood Emirates partnership:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So my question will be about my upcoming flight in Jan 2015 on EK from CPT-DXB-LAX. Can I list my Alaska account number so I earn Alaska miles for the EK miles flown and still get the bonus SPG points based on the fare…or will using the Alaska number preclude the SPG points from being earned?

    It would be fantastic if I could pay for the Emirates flights, use my Alaska number to earn Alaska miles and then earn SPG points on the fare paid to Emirates! But I have a feeling that double dip will not be permitted.

  2. I’m thrilled about this!! Gotta weigh if it’s worth to credit EK flights to skywards instead of AS to rack SPG points faster… What’s your thought? SPG points can go back to AS account anyways

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