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Old Aug 17, 98, 1:09 pm   #1
Commander Catcop
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Info on Westin/Sheraton Club changes

Check out www.BizTravel.Com for some info
on the changes coming for Sheraton Club Int'l
and Westin when Starwood combines them Jan 1.
It's in the section marked "BizTravelize" the
CounterIntelligence section.

Some of it sounds good. I'll wait and see.
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Old Aug 17, 98, 1:20 pm   #2
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The Sheraton-Westin article's in the "tactical Traveler" section by Joe Brancatelli in the Biz Travel Magazine section. Good articles besides this topic.
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Old Aug 17, 98, 1:50 pm   #3
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Catman, the article discusses very, very general issues. The big question is: How will existing points (Sheraton & Westin) be valued in the new program? Given similar changes by other FF programs over the years, it's likely that existing points will be worth less (maybe much less) come January 1 than they are today.
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Old Aug 17, 98, 3:59 pm   #4
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I agree with MileKing. I did not find anything in the article which I could construe as positive.
 
Old Aug 18, 98, 4:21 am   #5
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here is the article:

The Shape of Sheraton-Westin Sheraton and Westin, both now owned by the Starwood real-estate investment trust, will jettison their proprietary frequent-guest programs on January 1 in favor of a company-wide plan. Planning for the new program is still incomplete, says Hoyt W. Harper, the executive in charge of the new frequency plan, but he did offer some general answers to my specific questions.

The program will issue credit for stays at "close to 99 percent" of the properties flying one of Starwood's six flags: Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, Ceasars World, St. Regis/Luxury Collection and the new W chain. There will be no charge for membership (Sheraton Club International once charged an annual fee). The program, says Harper, will offer "flexible currency," a euphemism meaning you can either accrue credits in the Starwood program or convert your hotel stays into airline frequent-flyer miles. "Elite" status will be based on total spending as well as the number of times you stay at a Starwood properties. The reward chart will include free hotel stays at all six chains; vacation packages, offered with and without airline tickets; and the miles-conversion option. "We may even add a merchandise component," he says.

When will travelers get a look at the program specifics? "Shortly after Labor Day," promises Harper.
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Old Aug 18, 98, 4:28 am   #6
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I guess that (as always) there are disadvantages and advantages and the overall-judgement depends on your personal preferences (and on the finalized program).

At least the new program could simplify (my accounting) by including more hotels in one program - and I "win" the annual fee.

But I admit, simplifiying and no fees also means: more people will be in the program. And simplifying also means that we "loose" our stategic-advantage of "better knowing" and to be a step ahead of the "crowd".
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Old Aug 18, 98, 8:10 am   #7
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Rudi you left out the biggest disadvantage: higher award levels. The letter I received from Westin implied that this would happen after June 30 1999. I have already mentioned in the Westin column two instances where Westin effectively devalued the credit card partner points and changed the award level from one free night with ten night stay to a dollar based system where on the average more nights are needed for a free night (at the rates I have been paying).

It is unfortunate that Sheraton Club International is being sucked in with these changes. Like Catman, I would also prefer that the programs remain separate.

 
Old Aug 18, 98, 8:53 am   #8
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I recently asked Sheraton about the expected changes and if points would be de-valued, and received the following response today:

Dear Mr. Beck:

Your inquiry about the merger of Westin Premier and Sheraton Club International (SCI) has been forwarded to our office for a response. We appreciate your concern about future changes to these programs.

Please be assured that the concerns of SCI members and Westin Premier's members will be closely taken into consideration when putting together the new program, due to be launched in January 1999. We are making it a priority to protect and enhance the value of our frequent guest program for our best customers.

We believe that the new program will be more rewarding than the SCI program you have grown to appreciate. Our goal is to create the best frequent guest program on earth--an aggressive goal but one which we are confident that we will be able to achieve by year-end. We are not only taking the best elements of each of the two programs, but putting into place some new benefits that you will find exciting and even more rewarding.

Since we are still in development, we are unable to provide details to you at this time regarding the new program. Thank you for your continued loyalty. We will keep you up to date during the course of the year on our developments.

Sincerely,

Rose P. Gurkin
SCI Program Services

E-mail address: sci_program_services@ittsheraton.com
SCI Award Center Telephone: 1-800-247-2582 (Toll-Free)
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Old Aug 18, 98, 12:31 pm   #9
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MileKing and Pgupta011... Upon re-reading the
article the only positive thing about the change is eliminating the 25 dollar Sheraton
fee (I did not mind paying the fee. In fact
I charged it to my Hilton Optima so I get
Hilton points!)

Maybe I liked the article because at least I
got a few facts (plus the fact Joe's a good
writer.)

I should withhold judgement on the changes,
and I wish Westin/Sheraton and all the programs would promptly spell out any dramatic changes instead of "teasing us."

MileKing... I got the same response from Westin and Sheraton (I think it was word for
word with mine!) when I wrote them.

I'm glad that some of you agree with me that
the programs should be kept separate. They
have worked fine that way in teh past and
I have used both for different reasons (sheraton for upgrades, Westin for free nights.)

As I said... I cashed in my Westin (and rolled over SHeraton) for Maui because I don't want to wait 5 years to get to stay there.

I guess the new program will be called "Premier gold" (Or for us Average Aluminum.)
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Old Aug 18, 98, 12:34 pm   #10
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Rudi also makes a good point... more people
will be in the program. That means like
airline travel tougher for us to get free nights and stays at the most popular destinations (Hawaii, the golf resorts, Europe, Asia, NYC)

I know, I know... someone's going to say I'm
complaining. Want more facts! CATMAN
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Old Aug 29, 98, 10:04 pm   #11
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One nice feature of the Westin program is that they have an award good for free business class tickets to Europe. All of the other hotel programs (Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, etc.) only hae coach travel awards. If you travel enough to become an elite member of these programs, one of the last things that you want to do is to fly coach class to Europe.
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Old Aug 30, 98, 10:21 am   #12
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One of the things I predict will go "POOF"
when Westin and Sheraton merge... the business class tickets that JeffKurn mentioned and Westin now offers.

They have to take something away and raise
the award point levels. I'll be surprised if
there are little changes with the new program. CATMAN
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