Maintaining the status quo when other programs make changes to award charts causing devaluation of loyalty currency is generally viewed as positive, along the lines of “no news is good news.” But when Starwood Preferred Guest announced on FlyerTalk that award categories for individual hotels would not be adjusted this year, the response from members was mixed and many members expressed their dissatisfaction with the non-change. FlyerTalk member Freebee had this to say, “Considering Hilton just had a major devaluation, I’ll happily take the status quo from Starwood!” But many members pointed out that in the past, Starwood has adjusted their hotel categories annually according to room rates. If room rates at a hotel went down the previous year, Starwood adjusted that hotel’s category rating and it would move into a lower category. If the rate increased, the hotel would move into a higher category. BoardingArea blogger Gary Leff explained, “Rates were down close to 20 percent, Starwood members expected points prices to fall, too. But Starwood apparently had other plans, and tried to spin not raising prices as a huge win for members.”
The Starwood Lurker on FlyerTalk, William R. Sanders, said that Starwood determines categories by looking at the year ahead instead of the previous year. “Categories are determined on a forward looking basis, which led to last year’s adjustment that moved 160 hotels to a lower category. Though rates are expected to generally rise in 2010, we wanted to make sure all of our members are able to continue to take advantage of our 2009 award levels. As a result, categories will not be changing for any of our branded hotels in 2010.” At any rate, SPG members can redeem points for rooms in 2010 at the same award categories as in 2009. And peak awards are still suspended throughout 2010.