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Starwood Hotels puts Uber in driver?s seat with loyalty partnership

Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Uber are teaming up to offer the hotel brand?s Preferred Guest members the ability to earn more rewards points each time they take a ride with an Uber vehicle, displaying that cross-partnerships are imperative for marketers in the transportation and hospitality industries.

Starwood is ramping up to bolster its already strong mobile strategy even more with the new partnership, which aims to combine high touch and high tech to provide guests with streamlined transportation modes and more engagement with the loyalty program. Members of the SPG program can now earn one Starpoint for each dollar spent on Uber rides.

?This one-of-a-kind partnership extends the recognition and rewards our SPG members receive when staying with us into their rides with Uber,? said Chris Holdren, senior vice president of SPG and digital for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, New York. ?By enhancing their travel experience and making it easy for SPG members to earn Starpoints during every Uber ride, we?re creating a deeper relationship with our most valuable guests.

?Starwood has been focused on transforming our guests? experiences?not just when they?re staying with us, but throughout their entire journey,? he said. ?This partnership with Uber joins our partnership with Delta Airlines and a few others to look at the end-to-end travel experience. 

?As we add partners who are similarly focused on delivering a great experience for their consumers, we?re confident our guests will choose Starwood and SPG for all of their hotel stays.?

Enhancing travel
Consumers interested in taking advantage of the extra Starpoints can link their existing Uber and SPG loyalty accounts to After customers complete a qualifying stay at any Starwood Hotels property around the world, the points will automatically be credited to the user.

Loyalty customers can also enjoy bonus earnings while in-stay at a hotel, with Preferred members receiving two points per dollar spent, Gold and Platinum consumers receiving three points per spend and four points per spend awarded to members of Platinum 76+.

Consumers in any market worldwide, including China, Brazil, the United States and Europe, can participate in the partnership?s offerings.

Starwood Hotels has long been a proponent of strong mobile strategy, fuelling it to invest in travel rewards. Last fall, the hotel brand rolled out a mobile application that enabled customers to select a specific room based on exact preferences and requirements, such as fireplaces, balconies and corner rooms (see story).

The catalogue app helps general managers and associates as well with keeping track of available rooms.

Most importantly, Starwood is one of the premiere hotel marketers entering the sector of mobile room keys, which allow guests to unlock their rooms with their smartphones via a Bluetooth connection instead of using a physical key (see story). Essentially, the process functions similarly to the way a customer can tap-and-go when paying for an Uber ride.

#SuiteRide surprises
Uber and Starwood are celebrating the partnership with a promotion titled #SuiteRide in five worldwide cities. Uber riders that are also SPG members can link their accounts and choose the ?SPG? car option within the Uber app when getting a ride on Feb. 28 for a chance to win a branded hotel experience on the road and also collect 15,000 Starpoints.

The 15,000 Starpoints may be redeemed for a complimentary night at a category 1-5 Starwood property.

Consumers that receive the opportunity to ride in an SPG vehicle will experience amenities and features from Starwood?s nine brands, which include Sheraton, Westin, W, Aloft, Element and St. Regis.

The vehicles will be placed in London, Dubai, San Francisco, New York and Mexico City on Feb. 28 between two p.m. to seven p.m. local time.

Social media fans can also follow along via the #SuiteRide hashtag.

?Travel is inherently mobile, and mobile technology is not only changing how guests search and book their travel, but is giving us new ways to interact with our guests,? Mr. Holdren said. ?At Starwood, we?ve nearly reached the tipping point where almost 50 percent of our site visits are through mobile devices, up from 13 percent just three years ago.

?In the last few months we were the first in the hotel industry to announce SPG Keyless, fundamentally redefining the age-old check-in process by enabling guests to bypass the front desk and open their room door with the SPG App on their smartphone. We are keenly focused on merging high-tech and high-touch to give our guests the very best.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York