Now that Starwood is unlikely to be Marriott’ed, am I going back to SPG? Maybe!

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not going to be marriotted is good for spg

The best travel news all year? You bet!

Saved by the Chinese (how many times have you said that?)! Unless you have been on vacation on the moon this past week, you now know what once looked like a done deal, that is, the buyout of SPG by Marriott, is now unlikely to happen. I am not an expert on these kinds of mega deals but from all I have seen I doubt Marriott will want SPG at these (or higher) priced levels.

I blogged just a few weeks back that I am done chasing status this year. I was poingant about Hyatt as well as SPG when I said:

“The point is, if I am going to have to beg, borrow or cajole my way to get something as a top elite, why not just make due with mid status that means I will have to do that exact same thing?”

Has any of that truth changed with the new Chinese insurance giant, Anbang Insurance Group, offer to buy SPG? Maybe. Let me explain.

Most of us who are points enthusiasts love Starpoints and consider them one of the most valuable travel “currencies” you can collect. We love the SPG AMEX cards to earn Starpoints. We love using them for hotel nights as well as their many transfer partners as well as the 5,000 bonus points when we, for example, transfer 20,000 SPG points to Delta SkyMiles. Most of us who love SPG do so because they are not the Marriott loyalty program. So not being Marriott’ed, if you will, is a good thing as, at least the time being, the new Anbang folks are unlikely to change anything in regards to the program as well as the affiliation with AMEX.

Even in the near long term, if the Anbang offer is in fact accepted and completed, I see few changes. After all, everyone from Marriott to SPG to analysts are talking about the great value of the SPG loyalty program. Why would Anbang even consider changing this valued program when there is no need to do so anymore and just upset loyal guests. This is good news for us.

Another reason I say maybe is how really simple it is to get top Platinum SPG status. Think about this simple math. If you hold personal and business SPG cards you are talking 5 nights and 2 stay credits per year from each card. Let’s focus on stays for a bit. It takes only 25 stays to earn Platinum status. By holding both credit cards you are down to 21 since you get 4 credits total. Award nights count towards those nights and that can help a bunch. Not only that but SPG tends to allow you to stay two nights in a row, under two reservations, and get stay credits without leaving the hotel. Even when you book extra rooms those count toward YOUR stay credits for the year. I could go on and on, but the point is if you are even a semi-regular hotel person if you focus your stays at SPG properties for a year you can earn Platinum status. Is it worth it? That is really up to you.

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Time to consider 2017 stays!

Either way I am thrilled (for now). As a Delta elite I love earning so many more points with Crossover Rewards. I am earning SPG points for my Delta spend as well as my UBER spend and even bonus points when I UBER and am staying at SPG properties as well as bonus AMEX Membership Rewards points by paying for my ride with that type of card. Points, points, points and more points! None of this is likely to change and even if I do not go for Platinum status, all these bonus points may just drive my spending more toward SPG for my future stays!

A reader on twitter once asked me something to the effect of, do I ever spend with a company that does not give something back to me? No, I try not to ever. I try to join every single program I can and then stack them as high as I can to get every point back I can. I look at the value of each of those earned points and how much “real” value I can get at redemption and that DOES drive my spending choices. The current SPG program provides me real point value. I hope, if the Anbang deal does happen, the new owners get that and value loyalty as for 2017 I may just have to pick up another SPG AMEX card, despite not getting any new card bonus points again (I only hold one right now), and once more drive all my stays to SPG branded hotels! – René

 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

 

 

11 comments

  1. Unless you enjoy concierge lounges with open or honesty bars and so-so food, I don’t know if hotel status is generally worth it. I think you would be better just buying the best available room — many good room categories come with lounge access at the big hotels — regardless of chain. I’m staying at an Intercontinental at the moment. It has a gorgeous club but I don’t get access as an IHG platinum elite, however, they give me free breakfast in the lobby restaurant. The club would be nice, but the breakfast in the restaurant was pretty good. And if you’re traveling on business chances are you can just expense breakfast anyways, which makes one of the biggest elite perks irrelevant.

  2. Also, I’m glad Starwood may not be bought by Marriott, although I’m a little disappointed to see another U.S. company bought by Chinese business interests — especially given that the communist regime there is tied in with so many of the businesses at some level or another. I just wish we would have as much airline competition as hotel competition. In some of the cities where I travel most, had Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood gone through, upwards of 90% of the hotels would have been owned or operated by Marriott. That’s not good for customers.

  3. There was a reason(s) why Starwood was for sale in the first place — slow growth, lack of scale, poor competitiveness, any or all of these and others. I have read nothing about how the Anbang acquisition solves any of these fundamental issues or about how Anbang plans to make its $13 billion purchase pay off. Surely the Chinese know how they intend run Starwood to address these issues. They may be communists, but they believe in profit.

  4. I am baffled where you folks find anything Starwood
    I can count on one hand the number of times I see one of there brands during my 170 nites on the road last year.
    We are obviously not going to the same cities.

  5. Sorry, but I never feel comfortable when the Chinese are buying one of our companies.

  6. Chinese companies are known for making nice profits by offering cheap products; low quality, low price. I don’t see myself staying at SPG properties anymore.

  7. I agree with PT
    In NYC they bought the Waldorf and I’m sure you can guess that no one who wants privacy stays there anymore
    So expand that to all Starwood brands everywhere ! You can put a price on peace of mind

  8. I worry a bit. Like others, I just don’t like seeing an American company being bought by the Chinese. But more, I worry about Anbang’s competency. They are investors, not hoteliers. The good news is the promise that Starwood’s management would remain. Marriott is a scary prospect as well, given the valuation of their rewards program vs SPG. Don’t count Marriott out, though. They have time to counter, and some have speculated at a venture where Anbang buys the real estate but Marriott, who prefers to be “asset light,” takes management. At least that leaves running the hotels to hoteliers. I’d prefer a company like Accor, who’s also on a buying spree, to step in or, even better, for Starwood to up its game and start expanding.

  9. @Nina, unless you work for a government or run some mega corporate deals out of your hotel room I don’t see why you’d be worried. Honestly, I’m surprised the Waldorf hasn’t gone out of business with all these people who are not staying there anymore!

    (Also, fed contractors don’t generally stay SPG. It’s above per diem)

    I for one am glad! I don’t have to worry about devaluation or staying at dreary, old Marriott rooms. I’m a W person through and through, and there’s good reason for that.

  10. Marriott increased their offer and are back in drivers seat with SPG acquisition. Sorry to break the bad news Rene.

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