Starwood set to corner global B2B business with new SPG Pro

Posted: September 29, 2014 in general

starwood logoThe award-winning loyalty programme of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), has announced a new customer loyalty and personalization with the debut of SPG Pro, an all-new, comprehensive loyalty programme for meeting and travel professionals.

Set to debut in October 2014, this new programme 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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.

“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.”

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.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide represented in Nigeria by the Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton brands.


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