Update: The SPG loyalty program has been discontinued since the company was acquired by Marriott. However, award stays still count toward status in the new Marriott Bonvoy program.
Announced on Gary Leff’s blog a bit earlier, it appears that SPG will now be crediting award stays toward elite qualification. The leaked internal e-mail reads as follows:
SPG® is excited to announce the launch of a new benefit that affects all SPG members. Starting October 1, 2011, and onward, all SPG Award stays and nights will count toward elite status qualification. This includes Free Night Awards, Cash & Points
Awards and Awards earned through promotions (e.g., Free Resort Night Awards from the Getaway Free promotion). This benefit will be a permanent change to the program for October 2011 earnings and beyond.
Our members requested this benefit and we’re thrilled to be able to deliver it.
As a Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum member, my thought on this is the following: “yawn.” For those who barely qualify, it will now be slightly easier as those vacations they take on points will now help toward qualification. We could also see some rather interesting “mattress running” for people who are short by a night or two at the end of the year. For example, if someone were short of Platinum status by two stays, that person could book two separate one-night stays at Category 1 properties for 2,000 points apiece, and effectively “pay” 4,000 total points to keep Platinum status. Actually, they could get the 500 point Platinum amenity when checking in, so they would gain 1,000 points on the two stays, making it only 3,000 points to maintain platinum status.
I suppose this is a perk. I would rather see Starwood offer free breakfast for Platinums at all properties. I would also like to see them expand their lounge network. All Sheratons have lounges, but not all Westins do. It would be great to see them expand lounges to all of their brands.
When it comes to award stays earning elite status, I would much rather see the airlines do something like this. “Standard” awards on United cost twice as many points as “Saver” awards. I think that if someone has to book a standard award, they should earn elite qualifying miles for that flight.
Anyhow, as weak as the Starwood change is, it’s better for everyone, unless people are concerned about there now being more Platinums at the top to fight against for upgrades.