Starwood Preferred Guest has introduced the Starpoint Purchase Plan. Members can visit online to purchase Starpoints starting at $25 for 500 points — and through the end of the year, point purchasers can net a tidy 25-percent bonus with each transaction.
In case you are counting, this comes out to about five cents a mile, proving either that hotel points are really, really valuable, or you better not ever think of transferring these points into airline miles.
In addition, Starwood has hopped aboard the self-service bandwagon, at least on a limited scale. Earlier this fall, self-service kiosks were added to the W New York at Times Square, and the Sheraton Boston lobbies. The kiosks allow guests to check in and out with the swipe of a credit card.
Customer Relationship Management experts Colloquy.com say the jury’s still out on the future of self-service in the travel industry.
“We haven’t quite been able to tell if kiosks are entering the scene due to customer demand, or to extract operational savings,” says Colloquy. “Will the technology prove to be a differentiator, or will it just add to the cost of doing business? That’s where imagination will win out.”