Last year at this time I was doing a series of mattress runs to take advantage of several promotions and get my last few nights to qualify for Platinum Elite Status. I was getting 5,000 Aeroplan miles, 500 Starpoints per booking for using the iPhone app, double Starpoints on one night stays, and 250 points for checking in via foursquare. This year the Aeroplan offer returned, but the SPG offer stayed at double Starpoints, but lost the 500 points per booking and the 250 foursquare bonus. You could get the 500 points back as long as you kept your number of bookings to multiples of 5, but there was an exclusion list that unfortunately caught some of my stays during the quarter. At the end of November, this is where my elite search ended up.
Why were my SPG nights so low for the year?
Simply put, the other hotel chains came up with much better offers than whatever SPG was offering each quarter. Marriott with their Megabonus stay 2 get 1 offer, Hilton with their triple points offer, IHG with their Big Win promotion that gave me 20 free nights were all head and shoulders better than SPG’s double and triple points offers during the year. I enjoyed my SPG status when I used it for free upgrades to suites, and I got extra night credits from my SPG Business Amex. But at the end of the day if there is a much better offer available, it would be silly for me not to take advantage of it regardless of status. Why take double points this quarter when I can get close to 100,000 points at one time with IHG? SPG also changed their cash and points rates last January which made them less valuable to use.
Should I go for Gold?
Since I am only one stay away from gold, it will probably be worth making a mattress run for the final night I need before the end of the year. Gold with SPG still gives some decent benefits.The extra Starpoints would be nice, but the late checkout and enhanced room at checkin (but no suites) really provide extra for my SPG stays.
This year it is a very different situation for me compared last year due to the competitive landscape and my stay patterns during the year. If Starwood comes up with some better promotions during 2014, I can always try to reestablish Platinum status with them at that time. But as long as the competitors are having better offers, I see my hotel loyalty going to other programs. What is your hotel strategy for 2014? Is brand loyalty dead?