Starwood updated its terms and conditions to detail a new offering for Platinum members who stay 50 nights in a year with the program, allowing them to choose Suite Night Awards or something else.
What Are Suite Night Awards?
For the past 3 years Starwood has offered (10) ‘Suite Night Awards’ — an opportunity to confirm an upgrade up to 5 nights prior to arrival, rather than at check-in.
These aren’t confirmed upgrades in the sense that Hyatt offers them to Diamonds. They aren’t confirmed at booking, where you get to guarantee them at the time you make a reservation. These should be thought of as ‘an opportunity to express a preference for when you get upgraded’, ten nights a year where you get to have priority for your upgrades.
The problem seems to be that many members express priority at the same times, because while no doubt there are members making great use of these many have also been frustrated with their use. At the end of 2013 Starwood even extended unused suite night awards to give members a better opportunity to use them.
The thing that is revolutionary about the Suite Night Award process is that it’s managed by SPG based on published inventory from the hotel, so their algorithms determine who gets the upgrade instead of the vagaries of an individual property (choosing not to upgrade members) or check-in agent. No doubt there are hotels that play games with their inventory, but centralizing the actual assignment is an improvement for most.
Platinum 50 Night Members Can Choose Other Benefits Instead of Suite Night Awards
For those who don’t value suites, or who are frustrated with their experience trying to use Suite Night Awards, they’ll be able to choose other benefits instead.
Here’s what the new terms say:
9.4.a. Choice of Additional Benefit (50 Eligible Nights). A Platinum Preferred Guest who has 50 Eligible Nights in a Qualifying Period is eligible to receive one additional benefit from the list of available benefits listed at www.spg.com/P50 (a “P50 Benefit”). The list of available P50 Benefits on www.spg.com/P50 is subject to change at any time. Once a Platinum Preferred Guest becomes eligible to receive a P50 Benefit, he/she must choose his/her P50 Benefit by visiting www.spg.com/P50 and selecting a P50 Benefit. A selection must be made through www.spg.com/P50 and may not be made through a Customer Contact Center. All P50 Benefit selections are final and may not be changed after they are made. In the event that an eligible Platinum Preferred Guest fails to select a P50 Benefit by January 14th of the year following the applicable Qualifying Period, such Platinum Preferred Guest will receive 10 Suite Night Awards. “Suite Night Awards” may be redeemed for advance confirmable upgrades for select, premium rooms or standard suites on a per room, per night basis, subject to availability and the applicable terms and conditions set forth on www.spg.com/P50
What Are the New Benefits?
The ‘P50’ benefit website doesn’t detail the new benefits yet.
My understanding, and I have an email in to Chris Holdren at Starwood on this now, is that the choices will include bonus points and award redemption discounts.
The website will be up for making choices ‘in March’ — they need to ready this quickly since there will be Platinum 50 night members qualifying in mid-February at least.