Thursday, February 7, 2013

Starwood and Delta Get Friendly

(I first saw this on View From the Wing, but credit for first sharing it goes to Loyalty Lobby)

This post was updated at 10:30 AM ET to reflect the official announcement.

Very interesting development in the points and miles space - Starwood and Delta are introducing "Crossover Rewards", which will provide benefits for elite members in both programs.

Yet another great innovation from SPG

While partnerships between hotel chains and airlines is nothing new - this one is different, because it allows Starwood members to earn Starpoints when flying Delta, in addition to the miles you earn for your flight (it's usually an either/or type arrangement, and much more common for the relationship to be reversed - earning miles for hotel stays).

Top Highlights:

  • Starwood Gold and Platinum members will soon be able to link their Starwood and Delta accounts, and will then earn 1 Starpoint for every eligible dollar spent on Delta flights. There are some exceptions and nuances - be sure to check out the links at the top for more details. This is a great deal for those that spend a lot on Delta flights every year.
  • Starwood Platinum members will get a number of additional perks that will essentially give you "mini-status" when flying Delta. These include: 1 free checked bag, priority boarding (zone 1), and priority check-in.
  • Delta Medallion members (Silver and up) will earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on eligible room rates at Starwood hotels, and will also receive extra benefits such as late checkout, free in-room internet, priority check-in, and eligibility for room upgrades. Great deal for those that spend a lot on Starwood hotel rooms every year.

Delta is leaving other airlines in its dust when it comes to innovative ideas

My Take:

  • Flight Habits - I haven't flown Delta in a long, long time, and don't have any plans to do so again any time soon. However, this certainly moves them up a notch in my consideration set, should I ever find myself in a scenario where United / Star Alliance just isn't going to work out (likely ahead of American).
  • Marketing / Branding - This partnership makes a lot of sense to me from a brand perspective. I've been saying for some time that Delta is the airline that reminds me most of Starwood from a marketing and branding perspective - fresh, youthful, and ahead of the curve in many ways. Both companies are also closely-aligned with Amex, and I'm sure that helps. I've also said that Marriott and United seem to be pretty similar from a marketing / branding perspective - but I can't say that I'd be that excited about them putting together a similar arrangement (both are Chase partners, so you never know). Not that I expect that to happen any time soon though - United and Marriott aren't exactly what I would call "cutting edge" in this department.
  • Who Benefits the Most? - It's a win for elite members on both programs - you simply get a few extra points / miles, and a few extra benefits, and you don't have to give anything up. As for which company is going to get more out of this arrangement, it's a close call - but I think Delta gets the bigger boost. They've just had some pretty negative press due to the upcoming changes to the SkyMiles program - this should help alleviate that (just a bit). I also think that they're slightly more likely to see an uptick in business as a result of the partnership than is Starwood, because Starwood elite members are getting more on Delta. 1 Starpoint per dollar spent is much more valuable than 1 SkyMile, a free checked bag vs. free internet is a bit of a toss-up (depending on how often you actually take advantage of the benefit, how long your stay is, whether you typically get free internet anyway due to corporate rates or staying at properties that offer it to everyone), and I think priority boarding / checkin on Delta is a much better enhancement than priority checkin at Starwood hotels + late checkout. I think Starwood elites are more likely to shift their flying patterns slightly as a result of these extra perks than Delta Medallions are to shift their hotel patterns. That said, I would bet that there are more Delta Medallion members than there are Starwood elite members, so maybe it all balances out in the end :)

What do you think? Are you a Starwood member or Delta flyer? Will this impact your choices of flights or hotel rooms in the near future?

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