Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) has expanded its customer loyalty program with the debut of SPG Pro, an “all-new, comprehensive loyalty program for meeting and travel professionals.”
Set to debut in October, the 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 sales force 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.”
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.
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 centre 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 travellers, 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.”
Meeting and travel professionals can register for SPG Pro at http://www.spg.com/pro .