USA Today, by Nancy Trejos
Starwood Hotels and Resorts wants to take you for a ride.
The global hotel chain has partnered with ride-hailing app Uber to make it easier for hotel guests to get around—and get rewarded for it.
Starting today, Starwood Preferred Guest members will be able to earn loyalty program points by riding with Uber. But first, they have to link their SPG and Uber accounts at spg.com/uber and complete one qualifying stay in the calendar year at any Starwood property worldwide.
Once they’ve done that, they’ll earn one Starpoint for every dollar spent on Uber rides. They’ll earn more points if they ride Uber while staying at a Starwood hotel. And the higher they are in the SPG food chain, the more points they can rack up. For instance, Gold and Platinum members will earn 3 points for every dollar spent on Uber while staying at a Starwood hotel.
The program is available in any city where Uber operates in the USA and throughout the world including China, Brazil and Europe.
“Our goal is to deliver great experiences for our members, and there is no better ride experience than what Uber offers around the world today,” says Chris Holdren, senior vice president of SPG and Digital for Starwood. “It was important for us to find a partner to match our global reach.”
It’s not the first time Starwood has teamed up with other companies to link their loyalty programs. Starwood already has the “Crossover Rewards” program that gives their top customers VIP perks such as early check-in and priority boarding on Delta Air Lines. The company also last year partnered with Emirates Airline to offer similar benefits with the “Your World Rewards” program.
“For us, this is a continuation of the journey we started with Delta through Crossover Rewards,” Holdren says.
Companies are increasingly partnering with each other to combine their loyalty programs to make the travel process one seamless experience.
“The move makes perfect sense,” says Gray Shealy, executive director of the master’s of hospitality management program at Georgetown University. “Not only is this hospitality branding company continuing to associate their house of brands with innovation, but they are taking loyalty to a new level in enabling customers to work with a group of brands in different modalities within the travel space.”
Shealy says the program could end up building more brand loyalty.
“Now, nearly all of the travel functions are tied into earning points in one account, which is great news for the travelers like myself, who are constantly on the road and are fatigued with managing 20-plus loyalty programs simultaneously on top of everyday life,” he says.
Uber, one of the fastest-growing ride-hailing apps, has partnered with hotels before but not to such an extent, says Jonathan DiOrio, head of travel partnerships for Uber Technologies.
“There are millions of highly engaged passionate SPG members. We have millions of passionate riders,” he says. “This makes a ton of sense.”
Other hotel companies are trying to benefit from the growing popularity of Uber and similar apps.
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, for instance, recently embedded the Uber app into the Hyatt app so you can book a car while checking your hotel reservation.
“It’s taking a step out and providing you the opportunity not to have to go and switch among your apps on your phone,” Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian said during a recent USA TODAY roundtable of hotel CEOs in Los Angeles.
To kick off the new Starwood program, on Saturday, Uber riders who link their Starwood and Uber accounts can select the SPG vehicle option within the Uber app to earn 15,000 Starpoints.
Each rider will also get to enjoy amenities from one of Starwood’s nine brands.
For instance, those who end up in a St. Regis Uber will get fresh flowers, jazz music in the background, a copy of The St. Regis magazine and a Bloody Mary book.