My Starwood Ambassador Experience Has Ended and I Don’t Really Care

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Update: The offers mentioned below for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards from American Express has expired. View the current offers here – personal, business.

At the beginning of 2012, Starwood updated their Starwood Preferred Guest program to include multiple perks for those frequent guests who stay for 50, 75 or 100 nights at their properties. Some of the perks which I have written about in the past were pretty cool, including updated amenity benefits, higher point valuation and more. Here is the breakdown of the SPG Platinum Tiers:

SPG 50 Nights Benefit

  • Take an upgrade when it matters to you most. Receive 10 Suite Night Awards which can be redeemed for upgrades to suites and select premium rooms. Confirmed starting 5 days prior to arrival and subject to availability.

SPG 75 Nights Benefit

  • 4 Starpoints for every eligible US dollar spent – a 100% bonus over the Preferred level, and the richest earning bonus in the hotel industry.
  • Your24™ – have the flexibility of choosing your check-in. For example, check in at 9 p.m. and check out 9 p.m. day of departure.

SPG 100 Nights Benefit

  • Our highest level of service. Imagine having a single point of contact who can help make everything fall into place when you travel. That’s exactly the kind of personalized service SPG ambassadors provide. They handle everything from room preferences to restaurant reservations to special occasions. Just tell them what you need, and they’ll work to make it happen any day of the year.

The concept of SPG100 is great, it provides the immediate high-level personal relationship that a dedicated and loyal consumer deserves. It gives you a point person who you can always go to to help you with all of your needs, all of the time. Of course if the program worked exactly as planned than it would be ideal, and sadly SPG100 is far from.

When I got to 100 nights in 2012 (thanks to the Personal and Business SPG Amex cards which each give 2 stays/5 nights towards status, plus some additional bookings I made) I was obviously very excited about the prospect of this program, as I travel extensively and having a person assist with my bookings and needs would save both time and energy.

Ambassador service comes with the 100-night level.
Ambassador service comes with the 100-night level.

But herein lies the problem, and the reason that I was not a fan of the program: I was supposed to have an ambassador who would help me, and although I did, the ease of contacting and connecting was difficult. I was supposed to be able to email the ambassador directly with any requests (adding a name to reservation, making a change to room type, etc.), however every time I would email them, it would take at least a few hours to get a response and for me, a lot of my requests are last minute/need immediate assistance.

That being said, they did forward my response to an international team when my ambassador was out of the office, but I never really felt like major things were happening for me. To me, it honestly always seemed quicker to simply call the dedicated SPG Platinum line  and complete the request right then and there. So all-in-all, in theory this is a great perk, but in reality, it just wasn’t cutting it for me.

Maybe the program has gotten too big? Or maybe my expectations weren’t set appropriately?

I imagine that this is what my ambassador's phone looked like...
I imagine that this is what my ambassador’s phone looked like… ;-)

I’m a huge fan of SPG,  but at the end of the day, I would rather stick with the SPG 75 benefits and stay the other 25 nights at more unique hotels or airbnb properties (as I did recently in Dublin) or even at other chains to diversify my spending portfolio.
When I first posted about the SPG Ambassador experience it seemed like I wasn’t alone judging the comments on this thread. Though I’m curious whether my experience is normal or not. Please share your Ambassador stories and experiences!

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