I commend Starwood for offering incremental perks for those that over-qualify for Platinum status. Last year I stayed over 75 nights with Starwood, which comes with two extra perks, described as follows:
- Earn 4 Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent — a 100% bonus over the Preferred level, and the richest earning bonus in the hotel industry.
- Your24™ — have the flexibility of choosing your check-in. For example, check in at 9 p.m. and check out 9 p.m. on the day of departure.
An extra Starpoint per dollar is nice, though hardly a game changer. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so to me it’s like an additional ~2.2% return on Starwood spend.
Your24 is intriguing in theory. The problem is twofold:
- Your24 isn’t guaranteed. Instead it’s subject to availability, and in my case Your24 has been denied more often than not. Since it only confirms a few days before arrival at most, you can’t really make plans around it. And since it’s subject to availability, I’m not sure how it’s different than what any other member receives. If I show up at a hotel at 7AM and they have rooms, they’ll usually just check me in. I don’t see a huge advantage of Your24 over just showing up at the hotel, given that hotels will typically only confirm it if they have lots of availability.
- Your24 has to be requested no later than 3PM local time two days prior to arrival. I get that from a processing standpoint, though at least in my case, many oddly timed stays are booked last minute.
Which brings me to my most recent experience with Your24, at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort…
I have a 23 hour overnight in Abu Dhabi, whereby I’m arriving at 1AM and departing at midnight. Seems like a perfect opportunity to use Your24, right? These are exactly the types of situations that make this so valuable… in theory.
The only problem is that I booked this last minute, so it’s within 48 hours of arrival. The terms state that you have to request Your24 at least 48 hours out, which I get. Since Starwood is usually acting as a third party in these transactions, processing isn’t instant, hence the added time.
But I (naively) assumed that if I emailed the hotel and they had availability, they’d be able to honor it, given the spirit of the program.
So I emailed the hotel, and they responded (in part) as follows:
With regards to your inquiry about using Your24, kindly note that it should b requested directly through SPG 48 hours prior to arrival. Therefore, we could not guarantee the request at this time.
The best we could offer you for time being is a room for 02 nights starting from tonight to secure your arrival at 02:00 am in the morning and late check-out at 08:00 pm the next day.
We would like to offer you then the below rooms available from today.
Room Rate : AED 669.50 per room per night
Our Deluxe Rooms which has a refreshing view of the golf course surrounded by resort’s landscaped gardens. The room features a contemporary décor set in 45 sqm extra spaces feature floor-to-ceiling glass doors and private balcony.
While that’s lovely and all, given that it’s day of arrival and I was 30 minutes from the cancellation deadline even on the flexible rate, I’d rather take the much cheaper rate available on the website:
I also asked for clarification as to why in practice the hotel couldn’t honor Your24 closer to departure, explaining that my understanding for the 48 hours notice was the time it takes Starwood time to act as third party. Their response included the following:
Please bare with us regarding the Your24 request as it is not at the property level, and it should go through SPG directly for their record in tracking your awards.
So do I not understand how Your24 works? Are hotels actually compensated by Starwood for it? I know that when using Suite Night Awards hotels receive some sort of kickback from Starwood, though I’m not sure if the same is true from Your24. If so, I kind of get it.
My assumption has always been that they don’t, in which case I don’t get their reluctance to offer it closer to arrival, other than trying extract more revenue out of loyal guests.
After staying at the hotel, something tells me it has more to do with the property than anything else. I checked in at 2AM and asked if they had any Platinum suite upgrades available. The agent got on the phone and called the duty manager to ask if she could assign me a premium room.
When at 2AM a front desk associate has to call the duty manager to ask if it’s okay to give a Platinum a premium room (which is the same size as a standard room, except has higher ceilings), that tells you a lot about the hotel’s feelings towards their elite members. Suffice to say she didn’t actually respond to my request for a suite upgrades (many of which were still available for sale online), and I didn’t push it any further.
So can someone explain to me the Your24 process? Do hotels actually get kickbacks from Starwood for offering it, or did the hotel just want to extract more money out of me, which as a technicality they’re perfectly entitled to do (and I’m perfectly entitled not to stay at the property again)?