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Starwood Launches Foursquare 250 Point Promotion

by on May 11, 2011 · 16 comments

in Social Media, Starwood

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Social Media is all the rage these days – Delta is on the ball helping people through their @DeltaAssist Twitter account and hotels have been driving stays through Facebook, like the ill-fated Hilton Garden Inn 10,000 point debacle we all had fun with in February. I personally see the value of social media, because it allows me as a blogger to engage with new readers every day. Every time one of my Tweets gets re-tweeted on Twitter, new eyes stumble upon my site (and hopefully get hooked forever!).

Starwood has been savvy with their online presence for a while and they just announced a new level of social interaction – points for Foursquare check-ins. Per this promotion, you can now earn 250 Starpoints every time you check in at a Starwood property where you have a confirmed reservation (maximum of one check-in per day). Additionally, thru May 31, 2011, they are also “hiding” free resort nights, so every time you check-in, you have a chance at winning a free night.

I’m curious to see how this actually plays out. You have to link your Foursquare and Starwood accounts, so I assume they will be verifying that you actually have a reservation before awarding the points. Not the most sophisticated software, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people ended up getting points even if they didn’t have a reservation (or they made a refundable reservation and then cancelled after “checking-in” on Foursquare.)

Considering you don’t physically have to be somewhere to “check-in” via Foursquare, this could be an easy way to rack up valuable Starpoints. Starwood also allows free transfers between accounts from the same household, so if your family of 10 checks into a hotel, you can then merge all those points to a central account as long as you all have the same address on file. I wrote about this process changing recently in this post – Starwood seems to be monitoring intra-household transfers, so I wouldn’t recommend breaking the rules.

If you’re reading this and still scratching your head saying, “What the heck is Foursquare?” I will tell you. It’s an application you can download on your smart phone that uses GPS to detect stores/restaurants/points of interest and allows you to virtually “check-in” to those locations and leave a comment. For example, you can “check-in” to your favorite restaurant and leave a tip for future customer on your picks for the best menu items. I often see people leaving tips for free wifi codes and other helpful notes that can save you money.

Foursquare then learns all about your habits and can sell that valuable information to marketers. Additionally, companies can offer location-based specials to entice you to visit their establishment. I loaded up Foursquare in Times Square NY and got several specials, including this 250 Starpoint promotion:
1) Get a free gift when you check-in at the Winter Garden Theater and display the promotion on your phone and ticket stub for MAMMA MIA!
2) 250 free Starpoints for checking in at the Manhattan Times Square
3) Free 16oz fountain beverage with entree purchase at Cosi.

Let’s take a look at the T&C for this promo – they don’t explain a whole lot, like how exactly you will get the points or what they qualify as a “qualified stay”:
You must be a member of SPG and have an account with Foursquare Labs, Inc. (“Foursquare”) to participate in the Program. Membership in the SPG program is free at www.spg.com. A Foursquare account is free at www.foursquare.com.
Only one SPG member account may be linked to a Foursquare account, and both accounts must belong to the same person.
Only one check-in per property per member per 24-hour time period.
All Program offers are subject to the terms and conditions found at www.spg.com/foursquare, which may be modified or discontinued at any time.
Program offers may only be redeemed through a valid check-in on Foursquare at an official Starwood property venue.
Program offers will recognize only one Foursquare check-in at an official Starwood property venue per SPG member in a 24-hour time period.
If Starpoints are awarded pursuant to a Program offer, the redemption and expiration of Starpoints is governed by the SPG program terms and conditions.
Program offers may not be combined with any other offers, incentives, discounts or promotions.
Starwood reserves the right to modify or discontinue any of its offers available on Foursquare at any time.
You authorize Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., its affiliates, properties within the Starwood system and third-party service providers (collectively, “Starwood”) to collect, process, use and display information provided by you during the submission process (including any personally identifiable information) for any lawful, business-related purpose, to store the content and other information at and transmit it to various locations, either directly or through its third-party vendors, throughout the world, whether within your country of residence, the United States, or elsewhere; and to contact you regarding the content and other information you provided.
To update your communication preferences or learn about Starwood’s privacy practices, view the Starwood Privacy Statement at www.spg.com, or call 1-877-782-0071 in the U.S. and Canada, or +353-21-4930474 in all other countries to access our privacy information line.
The Program will not affect your communication preferences with other Starwood programs, for which you will need to inform such programs, Starwood directly if you wish to opt out.
You acknowledge and agree that Starwood may receive the following data from Foursquare: your name, email address, SPG number, Foursquare user ID, Foursquare user type, Foursquare venue history, Foursquare user badges and mayorships and check ins at Starwood venues and other venues. To view or learn about Foursquare’s privacy policy, visit www.foursquare.com.
If you choose to opt out of the Program, you may do so at any time by going to http://foursquare.com/settings. Once you opt out of the Program, Starwood will retain all information it has obtained from you or Foursquare to the extent that Starwood needs such information for business purposes, including verifying Starpoints awarded pursuant to the Program.
You acknowledge that the Program uses the Foursquare application programming interface but is not endorsed or certified by Foursquare.
You agree that Starwood is not responsible for any errors or omissions made by Foursquare.
You agree that Starwood is not responsible for any and all technical errors related to computers, servers, providers or telephone or network lines resulting in an unavailable check in.
YOU AGREE THAT STARWOOD AND FOURSQUARE SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY USE OF THE PROGRAM OR OTHER INFORMATION YOU PROVIDED.
You agree to indemnify and hold Starwood, Foursquare and their respective subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, agents and employees harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorney’s fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of your breach of these terms and conditions or your violation of any law or the rights of a third party. Starwood’s failure to act with respect to a breach by you or others does not waive its right to act with respect to subsequent or similar breaches.
You agree that any disputes arising out of or related to these terms and conditions shall be handled individually without any class action, and shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the state of New York.
Starwood reserves the right to modify or discontinue the Program at any time without notice as well as your participation in the Program if you violate the terms and conditions of the Program.
Starpoints, SPG, Preferred Guest, and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood or its affiliates.
All of the Foursquare TM logos (including all badges) and trademarks displayed as part of the Program are the property of Foursquare.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Random Person

    Might not want to “Check-In” everyday, if you don’t really have a reservation. ;)

    “Each month the registered member with the greatest number of foursquare check ins across all hotels will be crowned the Mayor of SPG for that month. The SPG Mayor will be featured on SPG.com/foursquare and asked to contribute tips to the SPG foursquare page (foursquare.com/spginsider).”

  • Sean M.

    TPG,

    I “checked in” today on foursquare during an SPG stay. 250 Starpoints score! No hidden free resort stay for me though I’m one-third of the way there with the Stay Three / Getaway Free promo.

  • The Points Guy

    @Sean- did the points automatically hit your account?

  • http://thetravelinsider.info David Rowell

    You might want to check your claim that you don’t have to physically be somewhere to check in at that place with Foursquare.

    First, if you’re not close to a location, Foursquare won’t bring it up.

    Second, if you’re more than I’m not quite sure how far away from one of the locations it does bring up, you won’t be able to get points for your check in. It will allow you to check in there, but won’t give you the meaningless Foursquare points for the checkin; and I’m assuming it therefore wouldn’t allow you to qualify for the much more valuable Starpoints either.

    David.

  • The Points Guy

    @David- I’m sitting in my office in Times Square and I just “checked in” at the Sheraton several blocks away. Foursquare brought it up with no issues. In fact I just brought up the W downtown and checked in there too- its 4 miles away.

    I agree that I most likely won’t get points for the check-in, but its worth a shot since it required no effort on my part besides linking my foursquare and SPG accounts and clicking a couple buttons.

  • http://thetravelinsider.info David Rowell

    That is interesting. I tried to do something myself before posting, and couldn’t get Foursquare to show me anything/anywhere more than 0.5 miles away, although the ‘Specials Nearby’ offered deals up to 2.4 miles away.

    Maybe that’s the benefit of being in an office in Times Square, NYC, as compared to sitting in my at home office in suburban Redmond, WA? :)

  • Mooper

    @David – The FourSquare extension for the Chrome browser will allow you to check in without a GPS-check. In other words, if FourSquare is being finicky about allowing you to check in because it is deeming you too far from the property in question, try the extension method instead.

  • newdeltaSM

    @mooper- does this get SPG or other points though? The Foursquare page on Chrome web store https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bhngmmmhjmbkdejbeopoijidmgcbkekl
    says “due to Foursquare restrictions, checkins through this plugin will not count towards mayorships” so they may not get you loyalty program points either. Has anyone gotten their points doing this?

  • Sean M

    @TPG,

    The points have not hit my account as of 11:15 PT today. I “check-ed in” using the foursquare app at 6:00am this morning from the hotel lobby wifi (iPod Touch). It was only my 2nd foursquare check-in I just started an account when I saw this promo last night. I also checked out of the hotel at 6am and the points from my stay haven’t posted either. I will repost when the 250 show up.

    The funny foursquare points posted to my foursquare account immediately. Do they have any value beyond foursquare credibility?

  • Mooper

    @newdeltaSM – I’ve received points for TopGuest and other promos using the Chrome extension without fail. There’s no guarantee with this promo, but if you are having location issues, why not give it a shot?

  • Sapan

    “From May 1, 2011, through July 31, 2011, SPG members who check in via Foursquare at any of more than 1,000 hotels and resorts in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program during an eligible stay at that same hotel or resort will receive 250 Starpoints® for each eligible stay. ”

    The above paragraph found in their T&Cs make me think that you will get point if you check-in via Foursquare the day of your eligible stay and not just randomly.

  • Tim

    Bryan, do you thunk that means if you have a 4 day stay you can check in once each day (4 times total) for 1000 points total?

  • Sean

    +24 hours:

    Hotel stay points posted, still haven’t seen the 250 foursquare points. I did save the screen shot on my iPod touch…

  • Sean

    +48 hours: the points posted

    Earn +250 05/13/2011 FOURSQUARE STAY BONUS

    I checked in on foursquare Wednesday morning at the end of a Luxury Collection stay. Bonus points posted overnight and were available Friday morning.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jasper.jones.5667 Jasper Jones

    I am visiting right now! I am wondering where I can find some fresh seafood around here.

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