With a $30 million marketing splash, Starwood is moving away from offering a separate incentive program for meeting and travel professionals, and offering one comprehensive loyalty account.
Previously known as StarwoodPro, the new professional loyalty program is now called SPG Pro. Rather than offering only StarwoodPro discounted rates, the new program allows professionals booking rooms to enjoy a direct benefit for their Starwood spend.
Each booking that comes through the new program will both reward the booker with Starpoints and qualify towards elite status for the booker. This is a much more lucrative play for the loyalty of the meeting planner cohort, as the planners receive a direct personal benefit for the business.
The professionals registered into the program receive the following rewards when booking events and room nights for clients and work-related projects:
Following the annoucement of a $30 million marketing campaign - the brand's biggest B2B marketing investment to date - Mark Vondrasek, Starwood’s Senior Vice President of Distribution, Loyalty and Partnership Marketing, points to the 34% of Platinum guests that book events and meetings 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. 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 has been spent across social media, with ongoing efforts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. The Twitter hashtag #spgpro is being widely disseminated, and Facebook ad buys are in effect. Although the brand is investing some of this marketing spend on those platforms, the primary marketing spend is on LinkedIn, where Starwood aims to reach networked travel professionals.
Starwood will be leaning heavily on the LinkedIn platform to connect the brand with the travel professionals most likely to benefit from the new incentive structure. Regarding the ongoing social media investment, Chris Holdren, the senior VP of Global/Digital at SPG says:
This is the first large scale, targeted ad campaign we’ve done on LinkedIn, but Starwood continues to test a variety of platforms as digital continues to rapidly evolve and decide what works best for us in each corner of the globe. That platform was so well-suited to the launch of SPG Pro because we are reaching out to the business community [and] to professionals across every industry.
The brand will also bring out actual guests and deploy the marketing associates across the portfolio to share marketing imagery of real guests - as opposed to stock imagery of generic situations. This imagery was shot by New York City based lifestyle photographer Jim Franco.
The promo marketing video is embedded below, and here are the Terms and Conditions of the new program.
NB: Sheraton image courtesy Shutterstock.