Starwood’s interesting status match policy change

On Thursday night the Starwood representative on FlyerTalk and MilePoint posted that Starwood would stop outright status matching as of April 1, 2011. It’s kind of funny that they said they wanted to give “advance notice” of the change, which I don’t really consider about seven hours of notice to be.

Anyway, now instead of status matching to Platinum, they’re offering a fast track challenge. In order to complete the challenge, you have to stay 15 nights in 90 days. The bad part is that you only get the Platinum status once you complete the challenge (as opposed to getting it and losing it within 90 days if you don’t complete it).

Based on Gary’s post on the subject on Thursday night, I went ahead and status matched while I still could.

One of the nice things about Starwood status matches has been that if you status match in March of any given year or later, your status is good for the entire year and the entire following year. In other words, my Starwood Platinum status is valid through February 2013, so I figure I’ll get some good use out of it.

Historically Starwood has been one of the chains that takes a couple of weeks to process status matches because they apparently verify status with the other program before matching. I was quite surprised when they emailed me back to confirm that I had been matched to Platinum within a couple of hours.

My hotel situation right now is pretty interesting. I probably spend around 100 nights per year in hotels, but that includes award stays, which last year added up to quite a few nights. I have every intention of maintaining my Hyatt Diamond status, given that they really are the most consistent chain, so now I just have to figure out what to do with InterContinental. Yes, I love Royal Ambassador, but there are a few things that frustrate me about them. For one, the qualification tier is unpublished, which makes it quite difficult to purposefully requalify. Furthermore, the lack of InterContinental properties makes things tough. There aren’t that many of them in the world, and there’s not much middle ground in the rest of the Priority Club chain. Lastly, as someone that’s all about award redemptions, I’m still frustrated by their policy of not technically honoring elite benefits on award stays.

Still, I’m not totally sold on Starwood. On the plus side they have lots of properties. Unfortunately, it seems like they over promise and under deliver. Being promised suite upgrades upon availability is great, though many Platinum members rarely get suite upgrades, being told by the front desk that all suites are occupied. Yes, Platinums get free club lounge access, though so many Starwood properties don’t have club lounges. And while the promotions are decent, they’re by no means great. I think Starwood is all about choosing the right properties, as some properties treat Platinum members like royalty, while others couldn’t care less. That’s probably why I’ll get some use out of the program.

Anyway, in this case it seemed like the only smart decision, and I look forward to getting some firsthand experience with them. I’ll report back.

Filed Under: SPG

Comments

  1. “One of the nice things about Starwood status matches has been that if you status match in March of any given year or later, your status is good for the entire year and the entire following year. In other words, my Starwood Platinum status is valid through February 2013, so I figure I’ll get some good use out of it.”

    Did they actually tell you that you’d get Platinum through Feb 2013? My impression had been that they stopped doing things that way and that status would probably have lasted through February 2012. Would be great if otherwise!

    Starwood Platinum really is property, or at least region, dependent. In general very good in Asia. Lots of hotels without lounges will usually comp breakfast at least, and hotels do tend to have more suites.

    Little seems lost in having taken the plunge, so why not? And you can often get decent value out of cash & points awards, and status does fully apply on award stays.

  2. FYI, I sent the request and got the email, indicating the status is good until “the end of 2012”. I sent a letter later to ask for clarification and was told to keep the status, I only need to maintain 25 stays/50 nights starting from 2012.

  3. I like the Starwood program for it’s award “exchange rate” value and availability. (“Cash and points” awards often offer an exchange rate of 4 cents/point or better. And even straight award stays can be great values – for example, I recently spent 96,000 points for a 10 night stay in Manhattan that would have cost about $4,000 cash – roughly 4 cents/point.) (Yes, the theoretical exchange rate can be higher for premium cabin international air travel, but in terms of real money I would otherwise have spent out of pocket, and very few availability issues, it’s hard to beat Starwood’s overall value proposition.)

  4. It’s unfortunate that you did not post this on Thursday night, so people who did not see Gary’s post could have matched :-:

  5. 100+ nights in a hotel?

    How are you in college? Are you getting a criminal justice degree from the University of Phoniex online? hehe

    Seriously, I am curious how a person in college is doing these kind of mileage runs. I’m assuming you either have a side job or family that can financially support these activities, but not sure how one could be away from school so much. I know that some business programs have students only come to class 4 days a week.

  6. @B He never said he was full time! I’m in college and only take one class a semester. I do mileage runs, work full time, and have a family!

  7. @ Gary — The email included the following, so I do think it’s good through February 2013: “As you are already an elite member with Hyatt Gold Passport, we recognize your extensive travel needs. It is our pleasure to make a one time complimentary upgrade to our Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Preferred Level for the remainder of 2011 and for the entire year of 2012.”

    @ B — I just plan my classes well, and try to stick to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule whenever possible. Those days are hellish, but it allows me to travel extensively. As far as job goes, I don’t have a side job, per se, travel is my job. Between blogging and my consulting business, I can more than fund my travel, education, rent, and other expenses.

    @ Paul — Nah, I am a full time student.

  8. I’m not sure I’m buying this, Lucky. You want us to believe blogging and your consulting business is paying your tuition and all of this travel? I call BS. Major BS.

  9. I’d only call BS out of being jealous of getting to do that much traveling!

    It’s a great opprotunity to travel the world at that age. I just graduated last year and have been traveling since. My major in no way would have allowed taking any day off. Still skeptical, but I enjoy the blogging.

  10. @hmm – I fail to understand why how Lucky makes a living is any of your business. Maybe you could publish your 1040 so we could all take a look. Just enjoy all the cool stuff he gets to do and shares with his blog readers. So many haters out there.

  11. Lucky, now that the SPG match is a challenge, are there any other “matches” still available for a Hyatt Diamond?

  12. I requested a status match to platinum yesterday (I have been Diamond Hiton for abouy 15 years) and was offered the 15 night challenge. It was pretty insulting as I have only 13 stays to go until I hit platinum- are they dumb or just corporate wonks! Not very customer fruendly service.

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