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Owners Update at Westin Riverfront

Pedro

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Since we were not skiing today (DD sprained her wrist yesterday and DW is very sore from the last few days of skiing), we decided to go to the owners update at the Westin Riverfront. The incentive to attend the presentation was 10,000 starpoints, which is the largest number we’ve ever been offered. The other option for incentives was a $125 card.

We were told that a Platinum Plus week had just become available for sale, as they had been sold out for a long time. I asked if it was a repo, but the salesman didn’t know the details of where it came from. They are mainly offering WLR for sale, with a large SP incentive (I believe it was 130,000 points). We asked i f there were any new properties planned for the near future, and the answer was not at this time. It was a very low pressure presentation.

One thing they apparently were not aware of, was the 10 nights of suite upgrades that are now available for Platinum SPG members that have 50+ nights per year, but not to other Platinum members such as 5*elites.
 

jarta

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Pedro, ... "One thing they apparently were not aware of, was the 10 nights of suite upgrades that are now available for Platinum SPG members that have 50+ nights per year, but not to other Platinum members such as 5*elites."

Perhaps they have not heard of it because the premise is wrong.

5 Star Elites (SPG Platinum by status) can get 10 nights of "Suite Night Awards" per year - just like any other SPG Platinum can. But, the 5 Star Elites must have the requisite number (50) of qualifying/eligible nights of stays at eligible SPG hotels and resorts where the booking goes through SPG (not SVO or SVN). Spending 50 out of 365 nights in an SPG hotel or resort (usually away from home and family; almost 1 in every 7 nights) is not worthy of some type of reward? lol!

The "Suite Night Awards" must be used to be upgraded for a reservation "to a suite or premium room" (notice you need not be upgraded to a suite!) at the time of making the SPG reservation. In other words, the value of each "Suite Night Award" upgrade is roughly equivalent to the cost of using money or Starpoints to upgrade from a regular room to a "premium" room or a suite for one night. 1 night guaranteed (if available when the reservation is made) suite stay costs 1 award. 7 nights costs 7 awards - and so forth up to 10 suite upgrades used each year.

On the other hand, all Platinums can wait and get an upgrade (maybe to a suite) at check-in by just asking and conditioned upon a suite then being available.

The new "Suite Night Awards" are something completely separate from "Platinum For Life" - which is based upon total 500 qualifying nights and 10 years of being SPG Platinum. Other posters have had trouble recognizing the distinction between "Suite Night Awards" (10 upgraded nights yearly) and "Platinum for Life (after 10 SPG Platinum years - or more - and 500 eligible nights stayed).

If a 5 Star Elite keeps owning the StarOption timeshares but doesn't ever use them for SVO stays (i.e., converts and transfers all the StarOptions for every resort every year), that 5 Star Elite would have lots of air miles for business class flights to Europe, SA, Australia or Asia and can stay often in Category 5-7 Starwood hotels and resorts (like Riverfront) using cash or Starpoints or a mix of both with the additional possibilty of the Platinum upgrade.

So, why worry about getting to "Platinum for Life" (you're there already) or other frequent "travel pros" getting 10 nights of "Suite Night Awards" a year to be used for upgrades as a reward for being on the road so often. Life is pretty good for 5 Star Elites - even if they never stay at a Starwood timeshare again. Salty
 

Ken555

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I'm not surprised, but I agree that all Starwood sales staff should be aware of their programs in detail. It's long been documented on TUG that many of their sales staff know just enough to make a sale, but not necessarily really use the programs, and this post is yet another data point which encourages that belief. It would be smarter for them to know about the various programs offered so they can intelligently speak about it and advocate one over the other... I've found that the more info a salesperson has about the company, the better the results are since the customer appreciates a well informed sales rep, and loses confidence in the company when the reverse is true.
 

ocdb8r

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Pedro, ... "One thing they apparently were not aware of, was the 10 nights of suite upgrades that are now available for Platinum SPG members that have 50+ nights per year, but not to other Platinum members such as 5*elites."

Perhaps they have not heard of it because the premise is wrong.

5 Star Elites (SPG Platinum by status) can get 10 nights of "Suite Night Awards" per year - just like any other SPG Platinum can. But, the 5 Star Elites must have the requisite number (50) of qualifying/eligible nights of stays at eligible SPG hotels and resorts where the booking goes through SPG (not SVO or SVN). Spending 50 out of 365 nights in an SPG hotel or resort (usually away from home and family; almost 1 in every 7 nights) is not worthy of some type of reward? lol!

The "Suite Night Awards" must be used to be upgraded for a reservation "to a suite or premium room" (notice you need not be upgraded to a suite!) at the time of making the SPG reservation. In other words, the value of each "Suite Night Award" upgrade is roughly equivalent to the cost of using money or Starpoints to upgrade from a regular room to a "premium" room or a suite for one night. 1 night guaranteed (if available when the reservation is made) suite stay costs 1 award. 7 nights costs 7 awards - and so forth up to 10 suite upgrades used each year.

On the other hand, all Platinums can wait and get an upgrade (maybe to a suite) at check-in by just asking and conditioned upon a suite then being available.

The new "Suite Night Awards" are something completely separate from "Platinum For Life" - which is based upon total 500 qualifying nights and 10 years of being SPG Platinum. Other posters have had trouble recognizing the distinction between "Suite Night Awards" (10 upgraded nights yearly) and "Platinum for Life (after 10 SPG Platinum years - or more - and 500 eligible nights stayed).

If a 5 Star Elite keeps owning the StarOption timeshares but doesn't ever use them for SVO stays (i.e., converts and transfers all the StarOptions for every resort every year), that 5 Star Elite would have lots of air miles for business class flights to Europe, SA, Australia or Asia and can stay often in Category 5-7 Starwood hotels and resorts (like Riverfront) using cash or Starpoints or a mix of both with the additional possibilty of the Platinum upgrade.

So, why worry about getting to "Platinum for Life" (you're there already) or other frequent "travel pros" getting 10 nights of "Suite Night Awards" a year to be used for upgrades as a reward for being on the road so often. Life is pretty good for 5 Star Elites - even if they never stay at a Starwood timeshare again. Salty

Jarta, sometimes I think you're more delusional than all the Starwood naysayers put together. You can write post after post defending Starwood, but no company is as wonderful as you make Starwood and SVO out to be.

1) I don't think there is anything wrong with Pedro's premise. Obviously SPG has created additional benefits for those who stay 50+ eligible nights in a year. That creates a different, more superior class of Platinums...a class that didn't exist when SVO pumped the benefits of their 5-Star elite offer. Pedro is correct that absolutely these new benefits are only available to Platinums who stay 50 nights or more of year.

2) I think it's simple ignorance to imply that the benefits of the 10 night upgrades are a minor benefit because as as SPG Platinum of any type you can ask for an upgrade at check-in. Aside from the obvious implication of availability being much more limited at the last minute, check-in upgrades are always vulnerable to the whims of whomever checks you in and how various franchisee's interpret the rules. There is little accountability for actually offering the best room available. On the other hand, the 10 nights offered to 50+ Platinum members are processed via central reservations with much more accountability to Starwood corporate.

3) Finally, you trumpeting all the wonderful flights people can get is a bit tiresome and getting to be old hat. You know very well your favorite examples such as the Southwest companion pass are no longer available. Further, you love to talk about the thousands of dollars comparable business class tickets would have cost you yet I bet you've rarely actually purchased one on your own dime. If you had you'd know there are MANY opportunities throughout the year to purchase Business class tickets for very reasonable prices (admittedly always much more than economy, but nowhere near the values you often state).

I appreciated many of your posts...but lighten up a bit. You turned 38 words of Pedro's post into a 481 word diatribe of your own. I imagine in person you're one of those people that really like to hear themselves talk.
 

jarta

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Ken, ... "I'm not surprised, but I agree that all Starwood sales staff should be aware of their programs in detail. It's long been documented on TUG that many of their sales staff know just enough to make a sale, but not necessarily really use the programs, and this post is yet another data point which encourages that belief. It would be smarter for them to know about the various programs offered so they can intelligently speak about it and advocate one over the other..."

In general, I agree with all of that. They should know the programs. But what Pedro told them was that "Suite Night Award" upgrades were available to all Platinum SPGs - except Platinum SPGs who are 5 Star Elite ("now available for Platinum SPG members that have 50+ nights per year, but not to other Platinum members such as 5*elites"). That's what the staff at Riverfront was not aware of.

As for TUG members being so expert in knowing the ins and outs of the Starwood system: For II trades - surely (TUG members, taken as a whole, are real experts about II trading). For knowing the ways the SVN and SPG systems can be used to great advantage, not even close. Every day there are mis-assumptions, erroneous facts and, maybe, even mis-statements to suit agendas posted on this TUG Starwood Forum.

My experience is that most of Starwood's successful timeshare salesmen know how to "use" the SVN and SPG system very well indeed. So, well that you would swear they must get paid their bonuses in Starpoints and StarOptions. lol!

And, the ones Pedro was dealing with probably knew all about the suite award program and its terms but didn't want to argue with Pedro because they wanted a sale more than anything else (the customer is always right). So, they let it pass with a "Well gee-whiz, I wasn't aware of that!" and went right back to pushing whatever they thought Pedro might buy.

All Platinum SPGs can earn the "Suite Night Award" bonus.

The problem most 5 Star Elites have accumulating "Suite Night Award" nights is that they are usually so busy using their multiple Starwood weeks to stay at SVO resorts (where they earn no eligible nights because the booking is through SVN) that they usually have no vacation time left to earn the 50 eligible nights through SPG.

It need not be that way. The benefits of being 5 Star Elite (conversions, bonuses, transfers to air miles, further bonuses awarded by Starwood partners) make it possible to never vacation at an SVO timeshare and use the SPG hotels and resorts exclusively for vacations (even in faraway places). You need to think "outside the box" about how being 5 Star Elite and, therefore, SPG Platinum can be maximized.

I am in the process of converting 360,000 Starpoints (which were part of a purchase of 6 blocks of 80K for $1,550 each) to air miles which came from an upgrade (which included a resale retro) that cost me $21,500 last year and that transfer will net me a little over 6 round trip business class tickets to Europe and South America. The value of the 6 round trip business class tickets? $24K to $42K (depending on exact destination and time of year). The cost of the Starpoints transferred for all those miles? $7K.

I will have already recouped $17K to $35K of the $21.5K spent of the upgrade. So, I am between $4.5K down and $13.5K up on the upgrade (and I will still have conversion rights for both the upgraded unit and the retroed unit each year, ownership of an upgraded unit, 120K Starpoints in my SPG account that can be spent or transferred for the next boondoggle and about 10,000 air miles left after I spend 660K air miles for the 6 round trip business class tickets)

And, did I mention, those 120K Starpoints are only a small portion of the over 1M Starpoints I have in my SPG account (and I have 6 more unexpired options to purchase 80K Starpoints for $1,550 per option which come from another developer purchase where I was given those for purchasing a unit 2 years ago utilizing a deferred first use date). My back thanks me for going business class every time I do!

Someone like you (who travels alot while making a good living) would find it much easier to qualify for "Suite Night Awards" than most 5 Star Elites. But, you have made a conscious decision not to try to get to Platinum SPG (by stays or timeshares). Too bad. Salty
 
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Pedro

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And, the ones Pedro was dealing with probably knew all about the suite award program and its terms but didn't want to argue with Pedro because they wanted a sale more than anything else (the customer is always right). So, they let it pass with a "Well gee-whiz, I wasn't aware of that!" and went right back to pushing whatever they thought Pedro might buy.

All Platinum SPGs can earn the "Suite Night Award" bonus.
Jarta, just to clarify (since I was there and you were not), I mentioned the suite award program to the salesman after we had stopped talking about any potential purchase and we were getting up to leave. I mentioned to him that I was very happy with the program and I really liked the new addition of being able to have 10 confirmed nights of suite upgrades following 50 nights/year at Starwood hotels. Since up until now we Platinums got the upgrades subject to availability, it is nice to have the opportunity to have confirmed upgrades for the times when you really want them - of course, first you have to stay 50 nights/year to get them. As a matter of fact, I'm half way there and we are still in March. A lot of those nights have been with my wife and the kids, and we still have many more planned in the next few months. The salesperson was not aware of the suite upgrade program, and he said he would read more about it. He had nothing to gain by pretending he didn't know about it.
 

jarta

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Pedro, ... I accept that the salesman you had at Riverfront was an idiot. But, I have met some who have forgotten more than I know about skinng the Starwood system.

The new SPG "For Life" and "Suite Night Awards" were the "hooks" to "recent developments" used at WMH (5-6 weeks ago) and WKORV (2-3 weeks ago) for trying to get me to go to an owners update. I passed.

Don't know if newbie sales people are sent to Riverfront - since there's only LMR to push (except for the 1 Plat at Riverfront). Weren't you tempted by that one?

2 Falls ago I was at WKV and almost did a deal on a Plat season at Riverfront. At the last moment, Starwood in Orlando notified the sales manager at WKV that Riverfront would not release its inventory week unless I paid a premium to Riverfront for releasing its inventory. I passed.

Later bought a WMH Plat resale - which became the retro in the upgrade post I made earlier.

Have fun out there! Salty
 

Pedro

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Pedro, ... I accept that the salesman you had at Riverfront was an idiot.
Jarta, just for the record, I never said or implied anything negative about the salesman other than he didn't know about the suite upgrade program. He was a very pleasant person, he knew a lot about the program, he never said anything that I would have considered a lie, and probably was one of the best owners update experiences I've had. With all due respect, calling somebody an "idiot" because they didn't know one fact is completely unwarranted.
 
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