Changes are coming to Starwood’s popular loyalty program for travel professionals.
Marriott International announced on Tuesday that travel professionals will no longer earn Starpoints or eligible nights toward elite status for client bookings starting Jan. 2, 2018, as it looks to integrate its own program with Starwood Hotels & Resorts following its mega-merger.
The point rewards system will not be replaced by a Marriott equivalent, but rather phased out. Marriott said SPG Pro members’ Starpoints balance will not go away, so any unused points will remain available for redemption. For bookings made on or before Jan. 1, 2018, SPG Pro members will still earn Starpoints — even if the stay occurs after Jan. 1, 2018.
SPG Pro meeting planners will continue to earn Starpoints and eligible nights toward elite status for booking meetings and events; and third-party professional meeting planners will gain access to Marriott’s Plan-Tastic discount rates at participating brands across the SPG and Marriott Rewards portfolio.
Instead of a rewards point system, SPG Pro members will have access to Marriott’s agent Fam rates across its portfolio. Starwood’s STARPRO rates will be replaced by Marriott’s Fam-Tastic discount rates, valid for one room with a maximum of four consecutive nights.
Marriott also revealed it is lifting how many times a year agent can use Fam rates, by eliminating the prior limit on the number of five stays per year. Stays using the Fam-Tastic discount rate will be unlimited in the new year.
Starwood’s ProLearning course will be swapped out with Marriott’s Hotel Excellence! platform. The Hotel Excellence! Continuing Education training was upgraded for 2018, featuring an in-depth overview of the new 30-brand portfolio.
Many travel professionals expressed concern when Marriott took over Starwood in 2016, believing that Starwood’s program offers a higher elite level, with tiers Gold and Platinum, and more value. Many agents were also worried their existing points with Starwood would be lost. Other advisors said a combined program would give them more opportunities to accumulate points, as well as more properties to redeem them.
Starwood was the first hotel company to create a loyalty program for meeting planners and travel professionals when it launched SPG Pro in 2014, strengthening the company’s relationships with the corporate travel planner, travel agents, and meeting and event planners. With the program, travel professionals were able to earn one Starpoint per $2-3 of spend, depending on their status.