Could Starwood’s 24-Hour Check-In Shake Up Hotel Industry Status Quo?

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(Photo: Maciej Urbanek)
(Photo: Maciej Urbanek)

BUSINESS

  • Elite Starwood members get perks & anytime check-ins under new Your24 program
  • Starwood says new policies meet changing customer needs and demands
  • No major hotel chain has yet matched Starwood's offer

Hotel brand Starwood has launched a new benefit for elite members, called “Your24,” which lets members take advantage of 24-hour check-ins.

Your24 is one of several new elite benefits that make the award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest the “richest elite program in the industry,” according to the hotel chain.

The offer is available for Platinum SPG members, who can choose to check in, for example, at 9 pm and will not have to checkout until 9 pm the following day. Platinum SPG members spend at least 75 nights at Starwood hotels every year.

“With the new SPG enhancements, the more you stay, the richer it gets with more points, first-of-its-kind benefits such as confirmable 24-hour check-in, the addition of lifetime status, access to a dedicated Starwood ambassador, confirmable upgrades and free breakfast,” says Starwood.

Starwood has a long-standing tradition of offering benefits for elite members. Its SPG program’s breakthrough policy of “No Blackout Dates” reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. The result: Starwood recently reported that elite membership in its Starwood Preferred Guest program has doubled over the past five years.

This program is strategic financially for Starwood, with the top 2% of guests being responsible for 30% of company profit.

3 PM Check In To Change?

Hotel check-in times are usually set at 3 pm throughout the industry, but Starwood’s move might see this long-held tradition evaporate in favor of customer convenience.

Travel observer-writer Joe Brancatelli from Portfolio.com asks: “Will other chains follow this 24-hour offer?”

Hotels with few exceptions want guests to check in after 3 pm and check out no later than noon. “And it’s too bad if that doesn’t fit your business-travel schedule,” he writes.

This is long-standing tradition is reinforced by the industry’s fear of the difficulties of more flexible policies for customer convenience.

No major hotel chain has yet matched Starwood's “Your24” program, and Starwood's move is tiny in the totality of the lodging universe. “Why? Because even with all of its brands (it operates, among others, Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, and W hotels), Starwood controls ‘only’ about 1,100 properties around the world,” Brancatelli writes.

But observers say the move is a small sign that the hotel industry is moving towards change and that rigid style of hotel management may be changing.

Key Statistics - Global Hotel Industry (source: MarketLine)

  • Worldwide, the hotels/motels industry had revenues of almost $544 billion in 2010. This represented a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6% between 2006 and 2010.
  • The industry’s most lucrative segment in 2010 was leisure, with total revenue of $421 billion, or equivalent to 77.5% of the industry's overall value.
  • Industry performance is forecast to speed up with an anticipated CAGR of 8% for the five-year period 2010 to 2015. This growth is expected to drive the industry to a value of $793 billion by the end of 2015.

By David Wilkening for
David Wilkening is a former newspaperman who worked in Chicago, Detroit and Orlando. He now specializes in travel and real-estate business writing.

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