Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®), the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT), is breaking new ground in customer loyalty and personalization with the debut of SPG Pro, an all-new, comprehensive loyalty program for meeting and travel professionals. Set to debut in October 2014, this new program will offer meeting and travel professionals SPG elite status, upgrades and Starpoints for B2B business booked at any of Starwood’s nearly 1,200 properties around the world. Plus going forward, any SPG member who books a group stay, event or corporate business meeting, regardless of if they are a travel professional or not, will earn Starpoints and status for the business they influence.
Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen said that SPG Pro was designed to leverage the strength of SPG, which today drives more than 50% of the company’s occupancy and continues to shift consumer business to Starwood hotels.
“The work that we’ve done to make SPG the richest elite program in the industry has proven that we can create true and lasting loyalty with our most profitable guests and shift share of wallet to our hotels,” said van Paasschen. “With SPG Pro, we’re focusing our powerful loyalty lens on B2B to cultivate ever stronger and more personal relationships with our global customers who deliver guests to our hotels.”
Today, B2B accounts for nearly 70% of Starwood’s overall room revenue and is comprised of corporate travel, meetings and events and leisure and wholesale travel. With a salesforce of more than 5,000 globally, Starwood’s Sales Offices manage 1,200 global accounts from more than 30 offices around the world. According to Christie Hicks, Senior Vice President, Starwood Sales Organization, the top 1% of accounts drives 40% of Starwood’s B2B revenue.
“SPG Pro is a compelling way for Starwood to reward our global customers, provide more personalized service on property and really understand the totality of the business our partners influence,” said Hicks. “SPG Pro will also help us extend our reach beyond our managed accounts to attract new businesses, regional organizations and a next generation of travel professionals. New global travel patterns are driving more corporate, leisure and meetings business than ever before and with each 1% share shift in this business, we add $80MM in revenue.”
Extending Loyalty Beyond the Guest Room
In addition to travel pros, Starwood is also targeting a new source of untapped B2B potential: its most loyal guests. According to Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s Senior Vice President of Distribution, Loyalty and Partnership Marketing, 34% of SPG’s elite Platinum guests, who may be senior executives or business consultants or small business owners, book meetings and events in hotels.
“As we’ve gotten closer to our best guests through SPG, we’ve learned that while one-third of our elite members are also B2B decision makers. Starwood only gets a 40% share of that part of their business,” said Vondrasek. “We realized there was a great opportunity to recognize our guests’ business holistically, beyond just our guest rooms. By rewarding business like corporate off sites, product launches or even personal events like weddings or bar mitzvahs, we build greater stickiness with our loyal guests, who in turn become an extension of our sales team.”
Travel Pros Strike a Pose: Starwood Launches SPG Pro with New $30 MM Lifestyle Marketing Campaign
The $30 million launch of SPG Pro is Starwood’s largest and most expensive B2B marketing program in its history. In a departure from traditional hotel B2B marketing, which has been defined by photography of empty ballrooms, banquet tables and a handshake between a “sales executive” and “client,” the SPG Pro campaign takes a lifestyle approach with vibrant photography that puts real-life travel partners center stage. Featuring a series of “behind-the-scenes” photographs of meeting and travel professionals on the job, the campaign celebrates the dynamic role they play on behalf of their companies, organizations and clients.
“Our relationship with our clients is about so much more than booking rooms or meeting space,” said Hicks. “They create unique experiences on behalf of their travelers, and our hotels work with them to bring those to life. Our SPG Pro campaign looks to showcase our partners as people and shine a light on the creativity and passion they bring to their work.”
Shot by New York City based lifestyle photographer Jim Franco, whose work has been featured in leading travel, fashion and lifestyle publications, the campaign’s imagery provides a sneak peek into a day-in-the-life of travel pros including:
• A music industry event planner scouting a suite at the legendary St. Regis New York for a high-profile VIP function.
• A global event planner for a Fortune 100 tech giant taking a deep breath after a successful event at the W Hoboken.
• A meeting planner for a large non-profit channeling her inner design diva to style a rooftop event at the W New York.
The inspiring photography will be featured on the program’s new website, in SPG Pro communications and collateral including on-property materials and online and trade magazine advertising. More members will be introduced as part of the campaign throughout the year.
Richer Rewards for Booking Business with Starwood
Beginning today, meeting and travel professionals can immediately register for SPG Pro at http://www.spg.com/pro. Registered professionals, as well as SPG Members who influence group, event and corporate travel, will begin earning Starpoints for business booked starting in October 2014. Additionally, SPG Pro marks the first time accredited travel agents will have the opportunity to earn Starpoints and elite status with SPG.
The more members book the more they earn, which means access to everything SPG has to offer and reaching elite status even faster through combined B2B and personal bookings.
Visit www.spg.com/pro to view the creative, use the SPG Pro Calculator to determine individual earning potential, and see testimonials from other SPG Pro members.
About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with nearly 1,200 properties in 100 countries, and 181,400 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and Element®. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.
About Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) is an innovative, award-winning frequent traveler program that unites each of Starwood’s 9 distinctive hotel brands and includes more luxury hotels in more destinations around the world. SPG reinvented the hospitality loyalty landscape when it launched in 1999 with its breakthrough policy of no blackout dates, and over the years has continued its tradition of innovation with enhancements such as Cash + Points, SPG MomentsSM, and most recently Your24™ and SPG Lifetime™. In addition to Free Night Awards at nearly 1,200 hotels and resorts and Award Flights on over 350 major airlines without blackout dates, the Starpoints® that members earn through SPG can be redeemed for access like no other to experiences in music, sports and the arts through SPG Moments. SPG offers the opportunity for meeting and travel professionals to earn rich rewards including Starpoints and elite status through SPG Pro. SPG also has an ongoing commitment to digital innovation to meet the needs of today’s connected global traveler – from the SPG app for iPhone that utilizes state-aware technology to create a more personalized hotel stay to Starwood’s Best Rate Guarantee on SPG.com, to SPG’s integration within various social media platforms. Offerings such as these have helped SPG build a passionate member base among the world’s most frequent travelers. Learn more at spg.com , spg.com/pro and spg.com/moments and connect with us on facebook.com/spg, twitter.com/spg, foursquare.com/spg, pinterest.com/spglife, and youtube.com/spg.