Rate SPG

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by Susan, Sep 29, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Susan

    Susan Milepoint Staff

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    8
    Status Points:
    45
    InsideFlyer is reviewing Starwood Preferred Guest for the November issue and would love to hear from SPG members.

    We look at the program based on the following: Earning Ability, Award Choices, Partnerships, Elite-Level Program, Rules and Conditions, Service Support and Online Services.

    If you would like to participate, please post your response in the thread with the pros and cons of membership in Starwood Preferred Guest and give the program an overall rating from A to F (A being the highest grade). You can include a plus or minus with the rating.

    You can also respond directly to the editors at InsideFlyer at sfleming@insideflyer.com if you would prefer.
     
  2. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,499
    Likes Received:
    14,270
    Status Points:
    10,675
    Just started with SPG this year and so far only two stays, 3 nights.
    Not in a position to give opinions although I would say both my Sheraton (Singapore) and Westin (Singapore) stays had great products and services.
    Will be staying at Sheraton (Pleasanton), 1 night in October and Sheraton (Grande Tokyo Bay), 6 nights in December.
    Looking forward to both stays.
     
    jbcarioca and uggboy like this.
  3. canucklehead
    Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,895
    Likes Received:
    22,059
    Status Points:
    11,070
    Earning Ability: B
    Its a good program as a Platinum to get bonus points as Elite. Green choice at some hotels is nice as most times my room is barely lived in. SPG AMEX is one of the cards I use. Bonuses have been few and far between in the past 2 years and with many hotels opting out and this brings down my enthusiasm.

    Award Choices: B+
    So many choices! Free nights almost always available, nice bonus for transfer to some airlines (though some have very poor redemption). I used to love C+P, but there are very few participating in that (of the ones I like). SPG Moments look good but has been less attractive of late (never know why they do not tie in an SPG hotel with many of their attractions!)

    Partnerships: C
    mostly because I do not use Delta and Hyatt's partnership with mLife i much better than SPGs with Caesars

    Elite-Level Program: C
    I have been Elite for much of the time SPG has existed but of late, SPG has been less attractive. The hotels are not very good with honoring things like best room at check-in (have been told a few times in the past year that there is nothing, only to find out later, that there is).

    Rules and Conditions: A
    Pretty clear on consumer side, but can you tell some hotels to honor the rules on their side? T&C for promotions can be confusing sometimes, and downright disappointing with the optout list.

    Service Support : B-
    I like the live chat option on SPG.

    Online Services (Social Media): A- (there is one part I would give F, but overall I like more than I dislike).
    Given that SPG was (one of) the first to provide an official presence on FT and MP, its good to know they care about their guests.
    Social media is great, with the exception of one very rude experience I had following a review I posted online. SPG reviews are quite handy (and slightly better than TripAdvisor as a source of reviews), but hotels should be obliged to respond to compliments and complaints -- I found out that for some hotels in NYC, they outsourced it to a social media person who knew nothing about the hotel specifics - in fact, the Assistant GM in the hotel did not even know who was actually making the response -- seems poor that a response would be so hollow - and in the case I refer to, quite rude).
    Website is easy to use, love the grid system for multiple rate codes. Wish they would standardize their hotel information, as well as (when possible) provide public transportation options and hotel shuttle times (some do, some don't)

    Overall, I would give SPG a B. It used to be A in my book, but this last year has been disappointing with bonuses and failure to deliver on promises - other programs have stepped up their game, SPG has not. My view is also based on the fact that some (half?) of my stays have been marred by rude staff and disconnected management.
     
    jbcarioca, Counsellor, MX and 7 others like this.
  4. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,499
    Likes Received:
    14,270
    Status Points:
    10,675
    Interesting read as it is a very detailed and objective feedback.
     
  5. danielwood

    danielwood Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,153
    Likes Received:
    5,378
    Status Points:
    4,000
    canucklehead, What's the best hotel programs you think?
     
  6. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,421
    Likes Received:
    2,111
    Status Points:
    1,225
    Earning Ability: C
    I have the SPG AMEX and like the stays and night bonuses. Dinged the program due to the seperation of the nights and stays. Prefer just to deal with nights so I dont have to hop. Also wish they had an online mall where you can earn points for shopping. Earning is pretty limited.

    Award Choices: A
    5K bonus when transferring 20K to airlines. 1 for 1 to Amtrak. Various other options.

    Partnerships: C
    I dont fly Delta, but the crossover is appealing.

    Elite-Level Program: C
    Not too difficult to hit, but benefits arent that great... I dont fly Delta, but crossover is appealing at gold.

    Rules and Conditions: B
    Not very consistant treatment of elites from hotel to hotel. It seems SPG corporate does not have a very good handle or too much say in what the properties do.

    Service Support : B
    Email support is pretty quick.

    Online Services A
    SPG has representatives that are members here and are very quick to answer questions and help out.

    Overall Grade: B
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
    jbcarioca, WilliamQ, uggboy and 2 others like this.
  7. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,421
    Likes Received:
    2,111
    Status Points:
    1,225
    Didnt know about the partnership with Cesar's. Thanks!
     
  8. canucklehead
    Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,895
    Likes Received:
    22,059
    Status Points:
    11,070
    I am partial to Hyatt at the top level - they have been great in the 3 yrs I have been with them. SPG is my other top level program - as LTG I am wedded to their hotels in some way and the eternal optimist in me feels they will see the benefit of having me as a customer ;).
    Mid level Marriott and Hilton are good for bennies and status via affiliation (United or cc), but not much else.
    Even more OT, I also think hotels.com works well for the casual stay. Given that they give you 10% off the hotel stay in their program, and this is stackable with referral via ebates or other portals, it offsets the lack of hotel benefits one gets when you get 14%+ off your bill.
     
    jbcarioca, WilliamQ, uggboy and 2 others like this.
  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,740
    Likes Received:
    5,087
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Looking at it from the point of view of top elites, who earn pretty good perks in their respective frequent-guest programs, I rate SPG as a solid C- program primarily based on the quantitative comparison that I did not too long ago, which is succinctly summarized in the glossy chart below:

    SPFN-ALL.png

    SPG is by far the least rewarding program in terms of how much one needs to spend to earn a free night. The chart above compares the "spend per free night" for the major hotel loyalty programs, with and without the bonus points earned from the co-branded credit cards included. The benchmark in the chart is the number of points required to afford one night at each program's highest redemption rate for a standard room.

    To be able to afford a single night at a very top SPG property, not taking into the CC bonus points, a top SPG elite would need to spend almost as much as it requires to qualify for HHonors Diamond on spend ($12K)! Hyatt GP, HHonors and Marriott Rewards are virtually identical sans CC bonus points (blue bars); but HHonors edges the other two programs when the CC bonus points (red bars) are included. By far the best (least expensive) program in terms of "spend per free night" is Club Carlson, followed by IHG, and then (in that order but very close) by HHonors, Hyatt GP and Marriott Rewards, and lastly, all by themselves, SPG.

    SPG, for standing out alone as the most expensive frequent-guest program, you've earned "congratulations!"...or something.

    Like I said, a "C-" program.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014
  10. alfagirl

    alfagirl Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Status Points:
    2,270
    To plagiarize Canucklehead a bit (cuz he did such a great job!):

    Earning Ability: B
    As a platinum, I like the extra earnings. I use SPG AMEX card. Cash and Points is supposed to be available for upgraded rooms and suites but I have yet to see it at any property I’ve stayed/researched. Earned Suite Night Awards are disappointing as the request is rarely redeemed/approved.

    Award Choices: B+
    Good. Free nights almost always available, nice bonus for transfer to AA. Cash and Points is supposed to be available for upgraded rooms and suites but I have yet to see it at any property I’ve stayed/researched. SPG Moments has really degraded.

    Partnerships: C
    Mostly because I do not use Delta and Hyatt's partnership with MLife is much better than SPGs with Caesars

    Elite-Level Program: C
    I have been Elite for much of the time SPG has existed and the past few years, SPG has been less generous. Some hotels are not very good with honoring things like best room at check-in (have been told that there is nothing, only to find out later, that there is or hear the front desk giving a ‘free upgrade’ to the person checking in next to me who just signed up with SPG). Some hotels do not even apologize when they make ‘mistakes’, e.g. when they give you a room key, you go to the room and it is obviously occupied.

    Rules and Conditions: A
    Pretty clear on consumer side, but can you tell some hotels to honor the rules on their side? T&C for promotions can be confusing sometimes, and downright disappointing with the optout list.

    Service Support : B-
    Concierge service is inconsistent (I sometimes get conflicting information, response is delayed)

    Online Services (Social Media): N/A – I don’t really use social media. (gasp!)

    Website is mostly easy to use, but every time I search for availability, when I put in the City first (because it is the first box), then the State, the City disappears and I have to re-input it (Unless I remember to select State first). I like the Grid for comparing rates.

    Overall : B. It used to be A. The Suite Night Awards are virtually useless, it sounds good on paper, but in reality, it is a bust.
     
  11. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I am probably going to sound mostly like an echo of canucklehead and followers. Earning Ability: as a Platinum75 I am satisfied with the earnings but they're distinctly not as generous as are Hilton (for Diamond, anyway) and Accor (I stay mostly Sofitel and Pullman). C Award Choices: I find more and more exceptions and exclusions in the last year or so making the value lower. Suite Nights were great, but now I have trouble using them because they are navigable almost every time I try to use them. C- Partnerships: They look decent on paper but are nothing special, and have less value than both of my other favored programs. C Elite-level: They do recognize Elites but mostly ignore the "space available" upgrades even for frequent guests in the same hotels. Moments are useless to me. C Parnerships: No impact on my life, except for the minimal joint miles w/ff partners. C Rules & Conditions: on paper they're fine, but individual properties opt out of almost everything so the standard rules and conditions are meaningless. F Service Support: Nonexistent. But have needed little, so : C Online support: The website and apps mostly work so I have had no basis to evaluate service. Because they work: B Overall, even though I stay at individual properties with high regularity, my loyalty is to the properties rather than the chain: were we evaluating SPG in Russia, Southeast Asia and China, most of those ratings would rise to A or B. If the US and the UK they'd probably drop a little below the ratings I gave. Thus, I add a category for Consistency: F (no grade below F is possible but they would get it on that count were there such a lower grade available)
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  12. 365RoadWarrior

    365RoadWarrior Silver Member

    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    955
    Status Points:
    695
    Earning Ability, Award Choices, Rules and Conditions and Partnerships i don't care about. I don't earn or redeem points.

    Elite-Level Program - B+ - I do feel like a valued guest most of the time. (I was one of the original Lifetime Plats.) I really don't like suites, and views don't do much for me (I'm working 100+ hours a week, so all I'm doing is sleeping), but Starwood is good about getting me a quiet room. Lounges are another amenity with limited appeal. They're so inconsistent that I kinda stopped going, but that's me: I don't drink and I'm strict vegetarian, so I'm missing some of the value anyway.

    Service Support - A couple of years ago, I would have given SPG a B+, but now I feel like things (regular phone service, mostly) have slipped to B-. I've got some upcoming reservations in Africa and...well, it's been tough. On the other hand, there is some very good service I've found Lurk-ing around the internet.

    Online Services - B - The web reservation service is nice for comparing multiple rates. I do wish that there was closer correlation between announced Hot Rate hotels and those that actually offer a rate that's shown as a Hot Rate on the website. (more rates found on the general SPG website than on the Hot Rates website weekly list). I like the fact that reservations and modifications appear immediately (vs. Hilton's long lags).
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  13. Misplaced Texan
    Original Member

    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

    Messages:
    16,871
    Likes Received:
    26,165
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I'll take a crack.

    Earning Ability

    Two grades for this one.

    1) Earning ability as it applies to redeeming for hotel stays.

    Despite what some others seem to think is the absolute truth based on an analysis of absolute maximum points cost of a redemption, my experience is that SPG is pretty good.

    Almost all hotels I actually want to redeem for are in the 10k-12k points range. That puts a redemption night at around $3.3k-$4k in spend w/o credit card bonuses for a Plat and $2.5k-$3k for a Plat 75.

    That's in line with the similar quality Hyatt properties in the same locations in terms of spend/redemption, maybe a smidge worse at the 50 night Plat level and somewhat better at the 75 night level.

    So call that a C. SPG isn't industry-leading on earning for hotel stays, but is hardly industry-worst based on my redemption needs and I have a strong suspicion that all of the major programs kind of wind up around the same place for an average hotel stay in an average city.

    2) Earning ability as it applies to airline transfers. A. No other program comes close to the SPG value of 1.25 miles/point or its breadth of transfer partners.

    Award Choices

    SPG has long been an industry leader here.


    Airline transfers, C&P, Moments, etc. etc. Maybe C&P devaluation should drag this down a bit, but it's still a solid A- at worst.

    Partnerships

    This is a tough one. I happen to be a DL flyer so the crossover program works well for me since it just hands me points and miles for things I was already doing.

    But if you don't fly DL, that program is far less useful/valuable. And the Vegas partnership with Caesars is miles behind both Hyatt/mLife and IC/Venetian (which really should be the gold standard here...couldn't SPG have just found a high-end property to affiliate with the luxury collection?)

    C+ because crossover works for me but I can see why it wouldn't of a lot of people.

    Elite Level Program

    Plat was once clearly one of the top one or two elite programs out there. But others have begun to catch up.

    SPG upgrade certs versus Hyatt are probably a matter of taste (confirmable well in advance versus usable on C&P or award stays). Breakfast at Hilton/Hyatt/Marriott is nice, but I don't know that I'd downgrade SPG for not matching what is often a mediocre offering at the hotel level.

    SPG also has the Plat+ options. 75 is great as both the extra point and the 24 hour thing are very useful benefits. I haven't done the 100 so can't speak to the ambassador, but some folks seem to think it's great.

    SPG also has, in my opinion, the best lifetime status program.

    So that's an A

    Rules and Conditions

    I really have no idea what this means. Grade: Incomplete, I guess.

    Service support/online services

    SPG is great at this. Good online presence, helpful agents on the phone, and good social media presence. I once vented about a rude lounge attendant at a SPG hotel where I was staying on twitter and heard from the hotel GM within the hour. That's a good social media team and good practices for addressing feedback by relaying to the appropriate staff.

    Grade A

    Bonus category: Quality of properties

    Other than some 4P, there's not a brand of SPG that I would avoid visiting and several that I actively seek out. That's hardly something I can say of any of it's competitors. Grade A.
     
    jbcarioca and WilliamQ like this.
  14. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,499
    Likes Received:
    14,270
    Status Points:
    10,675
    You tried to be objective despite also clearly appreciative of the program. Great evaluation. I like the cross over rewards too but its existence only hit me this year. That itself reveals room for improvement in the communications front.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  15. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Is there a deadline for responding to this question??
     
  16. Susan

    Susan Milepoint Staff

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    8
    Status Points:
    45
    Please respond by Mon, Oct. 6th. Thanks!
     
  17. 365RoadWarrior

    365RoadWarrior Silver Member

    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    955
    Status Points:
    695
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
    Misplaced Texan likes this.
  18. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Earning Ability: B. Overall decent and I hope SPG stays away from targeted promos.The current Shereaton Club promo is pointless for elites, who don't need to pay extra to book a club room for lounge access, yet this is required for the 3000 points.

    Award Choices: A-. I love many of the aspirational Starwoods. It's too bad that C&P terms/rates were changed.

    Partnerships: A. The crossover program with Delta is pathbreaking, although I don't earn many points or miles this way.

    Elite-Level Program: D. I was a big SPG fan until the different levels of Plat were introduced retrospectively. The way this was done seemed unfair and I still resent it. As a PlatMinus that first year, with about 45 nights (many at higher end properties), I received noticeably worse treatment at hotels and almost no suite upgrades.

    Rules and Conditions: B/D. The rules are generally reasonable (although I think getting night/stay credit for only one room would be more fair), but the problem is that phone agents, including supervisors, don't know the rules and hotels certainly don't uniformly follow the rules. If there's a problem and you call Starwood, the phone agents almost always defend the hotel even when they're wrong and the facts can be checked easily on the website. As a result, it can be very hard to actually obtain the published benefits that one has earned.

    Service Support: C. Some Plat Concierge agents are excellent, but others are incompetent and unwilling to do anything that can't be done with a few computer clicks. I suspect that many of the good ones have become Ambassadors.

    On Line: A/D. The lurkers on MP and FT are great, but I don't like the emphasis on customers "friendling" hotels or "checking in" on foursquare, etc. I shouldn't need to join facebook, foursquare, etc. to earn hotel points. I also don't like the idea of hotels invading my privacy to "learn" about their customers, which seems like internet stalking.

    Consistency: D. Some hotels feel free to decline to give elites published benefits that have been earned. There are a few hotels that are just bad: they need a complete renovation, new manager, and new staff.

    Overall: C. As I indicated above, I was a big fan until I suddenly became PlatMinus. Since then, I've learned that Hyatt Diamond treats me better overall than SPG Plat50.
     
    IDGflygirl likes this.
  19. alfagirl

    alfagirl Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Status Points:
    2,270
    UPDATE: Overall : C. Once again, my Suite night awards cannot be redeemed, and when I look at SPG.com they show availability for the room type that I requested!
    Next year, I will not go out of my way to stay at an SPG property. I kept hoping that the program would come through with the new features, but it seems hopeless.
     
  20. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,740
    Likes Received:
    5,087
    Status Points:
    4,270
    By that standard, the phoney cataclysmic "devaluation" of the HHonors points that many kept hyperventilating about should have been greeted with a huge yawn because all that had happened was that Hilton had put out of general reach a mere 3% (the very top) of their 39K+ properties, which should have left lots and lots of affordable properties to choose from.

    This means I fully endorse your metric, because it was what I kept saying about the purported HHonors "devaluation", whose net effect was to bring their program in line with those of their major competitors, since they really got too "cheap" with their low standard redemption rates, GLON, AXON, etc...while the ability to earn HHonors points had increased dramatically
     
  21. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,740
    Likes Received:
    5,087
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Could I suggest the HHonors program, where there are no suite award nights or certificates to redeem because suite upgrades are unlimited, depending upon availability, which has been 100% this year, including on reward stays? The catch is that one must be a Diamond to get suite upgrades (some Golds do luck out, especially in Asia), but that is not a very high bar because HH Diamond can be earned on base points (spend), number of nights or number of stays...
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  22. alfagirl

    alfagirl Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Status Points:
    2,270
    Update.
    Well, the SR Kauai could not confirm my suite night awards. But, when we checked in, we were upgraded to a St. Regis suite! Very nice surprise after the frustration of the SNA redemption. For the Sheraton Kauai ( I know, I wanted to be closer to the airport), my suite night was redeemed, but not for a suite? The email awarding the suite nights clearly states, 'upgrade to a suite..' hmm...
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  23. SPG Champion
    Original Member

    SPG Champion Official Representative

    Messages:
    1,332
    Likes Received:
    1,829
    Status Points:
    1,120
    Very nice, indeed!

    When you go to apply your Suite Night Awards, it is only going to confirm the room/suite types you select that are available when the systems begins the upgrade process. The email is simply a generic service email, regardless of the room/suite type that is confirmed.

    Here is some more regarding Suite Night Awards:

    "What is an SPG Suite Night Award?
    It is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s room designation and availability. Please note that hotels without Standard Suites or upgraded room types will not be available for Suite Night Awards, nor are Suite Night Awards available at vacation ownership or residential properties. Specialty Suites, including but not limited to presidential, honeymoon or multiple bedroom suites, may not be eligible for Suite Night Awards."

    The room your SNA confirmed was a select premium room type. Hope that helps.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
    jbcarioca likes this.
  24. alfagirl

    alfagirl Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    3,107
    Status Points:
    2,270
    Yes, William, that helps. I was reading the email that came with the 2015 SNAs. The woman that checked me in thought it was just a standard upgrade and, of course, I cannot remember the room type I requested, but I do believe there was only one type.
    Thank you....
     
    jbcarioca likes this.

Share This Page