Starwood’s Book Directly Reminder
One of the struggles of finding great hotel deals is that you aren’t given points or elite credit when you book a room through a third party travel provider. Often times, your elite status isn’t recognized either. This is done because the hotel chains want you to book directly through them.
There are of course reasons for this. The main reason is they pay a commission to the third party. By getting you to book directly, they generally collect the same hotel rate, however they don’t pay out a costly commission. In turn, they give you points and elite status with their chain and a few benefits if you have elite status.
Of course I generally prefer to save money in lieu of earning points and/or credit, so I normally utilize services like Hotel Tonight and others, especially when I a looking for a last minute hotel. They aren’t always the cheapest option, however I always make sure to check their pricing. If all prices are the same, then the smarter choice would of course be to book directly in most cases.
My Sheraton Ann Arbor Stay
On the Friday night before the Ann Arbor DO about a month ago, I stayed at the Sheraton Ann Arbor. Instead of booking directly through SPG, I chose to burn off my Hotel Engine credit before that most likely goes away forever. Before checking in, I did email the hotel and request that my SPG number be added to the booking. I have found in the past that sometimes I still get elite benefits by doing this, although it isn’t guaranteed.
When I checked into the hotel, I learned that Hotel Engine had booked me into a Club Room, so I really didn’t need elite benefits anyway. The stay ended up being very nice and I enjoyed the hotel. It was clean, comfortable and everything I would generally expect at the Sheraton.
The Follow Up Email
This morning SPG sent me an email about my stay that I think is quite brilliant. The email thanked me for my recent stay, but also mentioned what I missed by not booking directly through SPG. They even went as far as showing me how many points I would have earned had I booked directly. What a brilliant thing to do.
First off, I am an SPG elite, so it is definitely in their best interest to keep me invested within their program. Secondly, it creates a personal interaction with them. One thing businesses struggle to do is stay in the mind of consumers. In this case they reminded me of all of the great things I get when I stay at SPG properties (if booked directly) and they also reminded me that I had a very good stay in Ann Arbor.
As someone who sort of studies this stuff for a living, I really enjoy seeing new and innovative ways to reach customers. Since Starwood had my number on the booking, they used that data to reinforce the value of their program. I think that strategy will work well for them in the long term. I still am a Hyatt guy at heart, but that doesn’t mean I can’t cheat with a little SPG from time to time.