SPG Ambassador worth it?

 
Old Aug 29, 2017, 5:38 pm
  #61  
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bhrubin and some others spend quite a bit, vs lots of super cheap nights

do they factor that into things like ambassador assignments, etc
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 6:20 pm
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Originally Posted by scienm
I was once at AMB level and it was so so. Most hotel didn't seem to recognize or know about ambassador level at that time(it was long time ago). But now most upscale hotel knows about amb level and put some priority regarding suite upgrade than other plat members. I think that's enough for me. So I pursue AMB level this year again.
Originally Posted by EuropeanPete
It must be said that I've seen no sign of this as yet...
This debate will rage on forever, I'm sure.

I'm also of the opinion that staying at more of the upper upscale or luxury brand properties has resulted in my receiving better Ambassador treatment--as well as often having shorter stays and/or stays at lower occupancy periods. Yet my recent Nines Suite upgrade at the Nines over the solar eclipse weekend and last year's StR Bora Bora Royal Overwater Villa upgrade show that I sometimes can get amazing treatment even when a hotel is sold out.

I also believe that better/more upscale hotels are better at executing the Ambassador requests that most of us appreciate. Therein lies many of the differences in treatment, were I to speculate. I find this is where complaints about the program can be mistakenly blamed on Ambassadors when they too often should be attributed to poor execution at the hotels.

I'm also of the opinion that Ambassadors are more empowered to do more for those who spend more. There is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this contention, of course, and yet it certainly seems to be more the case for both hotels and airlines these recent years. I suspect that those who spend more are likely to get the most experienced and best "rated" Ambassadors. I'd say that's a pretty smart approach, too, if that were true.

Together, there above are enumerated many variables that I often consider when deciding whether or not one I have received good Ambassador treatment.

Expectations are key. I think my expectations are one of the reasons why I am so much happier and get such wonderful results.

I expect reasonably prompt email replies from my Ambassador...or an email reply from someone else from the Ambassador team. I've always received that. In the rare instances when I've called, I usually but not always hear back in a few days via phone or also email. Most often, I hear back the same day or the next.

I don't always get the answers I want, and I don't always get an answer as quickly as I might prefer. But I also don't assume my Ambassador is at fault when a hotel might not be executing well or providing an answer as fast as I or they might like.

I expect less when I stay at any Four Points, Element, Aloft, or Design hotels...and even most Sheraton hotels. I expect more when I stay at St Regis, Luxury Collection, and even some W hotels. I expect some but not as much when I stay at Westin, Le Mridien, and some W and Tribute hotels.

I expect more when staying for leisure rather than work, or when traveling with my husband rather than alone.

I expect and/or hope for a better upgrade most often when my stay is for leisure and/or is short or during lower occupancy periods...but I care a lot less when I'm traveling alone or for work. I'd rather my Ambassador put out the full court press for the leisure stays with my husband that really matter to me.

I very much appreciate a welcome plate of cheese or chocolates or a bottle of wine, but I still care more about other service. I appreciate a note from the GM or Director of Rooms, but I usually don't mind at all if that's lacking. A great stay for me doesn't have to include those.

I don't always assume my stays for my birthday or anniversary will be the ones where my Ambassador will most shine unless I'm also staying at a luxury or more upscale hotel that executes service extremely well otherwise. I hope for but don't always assume.

I'll be at the StR Punta Mita for the week before my birthday in January--a week prior because I couldn't get the suite award deal for my actual birthday week. I blame no one for that. Yet I still know the StR will treat me well because it's a wonderful StR. I also know my Ambassador will remind them that stay is for a special occasion and encourage them to do some special things for me. Ultimately, though, I just want a flawless service and food/beverage experience...preferably with great weather!

Hopefully, those might provide some helpful perspectives. I know that publicly on FT I am known for getting some of the most amazing Ambassador treatment. I hope that my thoughts above might help others so that they can enjoy similar treatment...and know when to not expect that!
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 6:21 pm
  #63  
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best point there, re expectations at less and least expensive properties, poorly regarded hotels/markets, etc

and communications especially but not limited to higher end properties
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 6:30 pm
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Canada101
Agree -- the inconsistency is what really devalues the program......
+1. It really depends on who you get as AMB. I didn't notice any difference in hotel treatment with or without AMB. It is certainly nice to have a single point of contact for missing stays, promo etc but not much beyond it.

My AMB asked me to alert her if my stays were for special occasions. However, I am not someone who tends to have anniversary every month. My hotel stays are either for business or vacations. I tend to celebrate special occasions at home.:-:
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 6:35 pm
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Originally Posted by bhrubin
....I'm also of the opinion that Ambassadors are more empowered to do more for those who spend more. There is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this contention, of course, and yet it certainly seems to be more the case for both hotels and airlines these recent years. I suspect that those who spend more are likely to get the most experienced and best "rated" Ambassadors. I'd say that's a pretty smart approach, too, if that were true.....
Excellent point. I wonder if there is a soft dollar allocation based on how much revenue you generate? Perhaps Ambassadors can allocate your soft dollar to pay for upgrade or special amenities? The way Ambassador program works has been a mystery to me.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 6:40 pm
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Originally Posted by TerryK
My AMB asked me to alert her if my stays were for special occasions. However, I am not someone who tends to have anniversary every month. My hotel stays are either for business or vacations. I tend to celebrate special occasions at home.:-:
So true for so many, I imagine. I might suggest that you advise your Ambassador about your vacation stays as being special occasions for exactly that reason. Share with him or her that you'd like special occasion treatment for the specific vacation stays that are most important to you--balancing that expectation against their duration, occupancy levels, etc, of course.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 7:41 pm
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this can apply to things like starwood ambassador and many other things >

the way it works for best concierges, at hotels or services, is that the highest referred guest spend, and the average referred guest spend, allows people who are NOT spending at those levels to benefit even though it is lower spend. while the suppliers obviously prefer higher, theyre also ok accepting a certain level of lower because of the quality of referrals they are getting from concierge.

when suppliers know possible/theoretical spend, for business/leisure/repeat/etc, they can make offers based on that. simply by knowing. it doesnt have to be huge, especially when occupancy/etc is low.

clearly hotel status programs pay attention to spend, system wide and at hotels. i find it interesting there are not more published things based on spend. even airlines with their invitation programs based on revenue of referral revenue, they dont publish numbers.

there are all sorts of spend tracking systems, mainly for increasing revenue, but also for rewarding guests as well as rewarding employees/partners.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 9:21 pm
  #68  
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Originally Posted by bhrubin
I'm also of the opinion that Ambassadors are more empowered to do more for those who spend more. There is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this contention, of course, and yet it certainly seems to be more the case for both hotels and airlines these recent years. I suspect that those who spend more are likely to get the most experienced and best "rated" Ambassadors. I'd say that's a pretty smart approach, too, if that were true.
While I agree that it would make sense, I'm not sure that I buy into this.


Originally Posted by bhrubin
I expect reasonably prompt email replies from my Ambassador...or an email reply from someone else from the Ambassador team. I've always received that.
Same here; my Ambassador replies consistently within a day. Part of the problem is that my Ambassador and I are on opposite sides of the world, so when I call during my day, she's undoubtedly asleep. I just call the local Ambassador line, which connects me to the Singapore center, where I've always received excellent service.


Originally Posted by bhrubin
I'll be at the StR Punta Mita for the week before my birthday in January--a week prior because I couldn't get the suite award deal for my actual birthday week. I blame no one for that. Yet I still know the StR will treat me well because it's a wonderful StR. I also know my Ambassador will remind them that stay is for a special occasion and encourage them to do some special things for me. Ultimately, though, I just want a flawless service and food/beverage experience...preferably with great weather!
I stayed there on an award stay for five nights on a Thanksgiving weekend a few years ago after informing my Ambassador that it was for a special occasion. I don't know what she said to the hotel, but they came through with an incredible multiple level upgrade to a huuuuge multi-room suite with an outdoor shower and a large outdoor patio with dining table and chairs as well as a lounger. And the room was totally and beautifully decorated for my then g/f's birthday, with chocolate cake and candles already lit awaiting our arrival. Assuming that your Ambassador knows the same magic words that mine apparently does, I doubt that you'll be disappointed.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Dr. HFH
I stayed there on an award stay for five nights on a Thanksgiving weekend a few years ago after informing my Ambassador that it was for a special occasion. I don't know what she said to the hotel, but they came through with an incredible multiple level upgrade to a huuuuge multi-room suite with an outdoor shower and a large outdoor patio with dining table and chairs as well as a lounger. And the room was totally and beautifully decorated for my then g/f's birthday, with chocolate cake and candles already lit awaiting our arrival. Assuming that your Ambassador knows the same magic words that mine apparently does, I doubt that you'll be disappointed.
^^^

Haha, I also stayed for 5 nights for Thanksgiving week 2015 on an award...and my Ambassador helped me get upgraded to a deluxe suite (sounds like yours, too). Funny, we may have been there at the same time! I'll be back in Jan and used the recent promo to get the same deluxe suite for reduced rates for 5 nights. My Ambassador already helped me negotiate a cash upgrade to the luxury one bedroom villa for our stay.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 9:47 pm
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Originally Posted by TerryK
My AMB asked me to alert her if my stays were for special occasions. However, I am not someone who tends to have anniversary every month. My hotel stays are either for business or vacations. I tend to celebrate special occasions at home.:-:
I have to say that my Ambassador keeps amazingly good track of "special occasions". She seems to have remembered my birthday, my wife's and kid's birthdays, our wedding anniversary and whenever I make a reservation at a property that isn't one where I've stayed at, she makes a point of asking if I am visiting for any special reason.

As a result, I've had amazing treatment at several properties for those special occasions or special trips (when my son or daughter were going for college interviews, for example, she'd make a point of letting the property know and they would send up a special something with the school's logo on it -- a baseball cap, a t-shirt or, once, a cake). She also knows that the real special trip for me every year is the one or two vacations I take with the family and I know for a fact that she goes out of her way to monitor those trips for me.

So I give my Ambassador full marks for being proactive and for really wanting to get to know me and I'm a little surprised that they're not all like that as the ones I've dealt with have generally been equally responsive (although they clearly don't know me or my preferences).

Individual properties are where things can sometimes go awry.

I've had amazing recognition at a large number of properties while also really crappy recognition at others. I don't know why. It just happens and that inconsistency really impacts on the effectiveness of the program.

One thing I have to say -- ever since the merger, every Marriott I've stayed at has been incredible in terms of Plat recognition. I have no idea if they know whether I'm an Ambassador guest or whether they just see the Plat status match but I've always been thanked for my loyalty and recognized as a Plat. They also seem very well versed on the amenities that are part of the program and have proactively offered late check-outs virtually on every stay. The same cannot be said for many SPG hotels (sadly) but I also stay at SPG hotels far more often than Marriott hotels so perhaps frequency has something to do with it.

Originally Posted by bhrubin
I'm also of the opinion that Ambassadors are more empowered to do more for those who spend more. There is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this contention, of course, and yet it certainly seems to be more the case for both hotels and airlines these recent years. I suspect that those who spend more are likely to get the most experienced and best "rated" Ambassadors. I'd say that's a pretty smart approach, too, if that were true.
I'm not sure if there's truth to that simply because I've never been consistently treated either poorly or well. It all seems quite random. (In other words, if there is a formula to how an Ambassador guest is treated, I would think that there would be greater consistency).

I would say most of the time, I am treated excellently and the brand doesn't seem to matter either.

I've been treated excellently at the Four Points Columbus-Polaris, the Westin Grand Cayman, Le Meridien Etoile in Paris, the Westin Munich Grand, the Westin Grand in Berlin, the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport, the Sheraton Brussels (when it was around), the Westin Tokyo, the Sheraton Wall Centre Vancouver, the Westin Diplomat (when it was around), the Four Points Brussels, the Sheraton Omaha, the Sheraton St John's (Newfoundland), aLoft Montreal Airport, the Sheraton Needham, aLoft Lexington, Element Lexington, the Parker Meridien in NYC, the Sheraton Boston, the Sheraton Centre Montreal, the Sheraton Gateway Toronto, the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, the Sheraton Yokohama, the St Regis Beijing, the Westin Beijing Financial District (I think that's the name), the Swan and Dolphin, the Sheraton Indianapolis Keystone Crossing, the Westin Hilton Head, Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam, Sheraton Libertador (Buenos Aires), the Westin St Francis, the Seattle Westin and the Seattle Sheraton and the list goes on. I share these names to illustrate that brand, country, urban vs suburban, culture don't seem to have any impact.

I've also been treated horribly at the W Fort Lauderdale and have received no recognition at all at many, many other properties that are too numerous to mention.

I've also been treated both excellently AND horribly on separate stays at the Sheraton Montreal Airport.

The rate I paid at those properties where I was treated excellently or poorly or received no recognition at all seem to have zero correlation. Some were on points but most were on rates that were either quoted by my Ambassador or were available on spg.com.

I really only care about upgrades when I'm with my family. When I travel on my own or for business, it's more of a "nice" to have (and I sometimes feel guilty that I'm enjoying a suite without my wife and kids).

What I do appreciate about my Ambassador is she knows my preferences and at most properties, I know she pushes hard to ensure they are fulfilled. She knows what my favorite drinks and snacks are and she also knows what my family's favorite drinks and snacks are for those trips when they are with me.
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Last edited by Canada101; Aug 29, 2017 at 10:17 pm
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 11:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Canada101
I've been treated excellently at the Four Points Columbus-Polaris, the Westin Grand Cayman, Le Meridien Etoile in Paris, the Westin Munich Grand, the Westin Grand in Berlin, the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport, the Sheraton Brussels (when it was around), the Westin Tokyo, the Sheraton Wall Centre Vancouver, the Westin Diplomat (when it was around), the Four Points Brussels, the Sheraton Omaha, the Sheraton St John's (Newfoundland), aLoft Montreal Airport, the Sheraton Needham, aLoft Lexington, Element Lexington, the Parker Meridien in NYC, the Sheraton Boston, the Sheraton Centre Montreal, the Sheraton Gateway Toronto, the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, the Sheraton Yokohama, the St Regis Beijing, the Westin Beijing Financial District (I think that's the name), the Swan and Dolphin, the Sheraton Indianapolis Keystone Crossing, the Westin Hilton Head, Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam, Sheraton Libertador (Buenos Aires), the Westin St Francis, the Seattle Westin and the Seattle Sheraton and the list goes on. I share these names to illustrate that brand, country, urban vs suburban, culture don't seem to have any impact.
I note the total absence of W properties from this list....
Originally Posted by Canada101
I've also been treated horribly at the W Fort Lauderdale and have received no recognition at all at many, many other properties that are too numerous to mention.
... and that W is the only property specifically mentioned on this one. Consistent with my experience at W hotels.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 11:33 pm
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Originally Posted by bhrubin
This debate will rage on forever, I'm sure.

I'm also of the opinion that staying at more of the upper upscale or luxury brand properties has resulted in my receiving better Ambassador treatment--as well as often having shorter stays and/or stays at lower occupancy periods. Yet my recent Nines Suite upgrade at the Nines over the solar eclipse weekend and last year's StR Bora Bora Royal Overwater Villa upgrade show that I sometimes can get amazing treatment even when a hotel is sold out.

I also believe that better/more upscale hotels are better at executing the Ambassador requests that most of us appreciate. Therein lies many of the differences in treatment, were I to speculate. I find this is where complaints about the program can be mistakenly blamed on Ambassadors when they too often should be attributed to poor execution at the hotels.

...
I expect less when I stay at any Four Points, Element, Aloft, or Design hotels...and even most Sheraton hotels. I expect more when I stay at St Regis, Luxury Collection, and even some W hotels. I expect some but not as much when I stay at Westin, Le Mridien, and some W and Tribute hotels.

I expect more when staying for leisure rather than work, or when traveling with my husband rather than alone.

I expect and/or hope for a better upgrade most often when my stay is for leisure and/or is short or during lower occupancy periods...but I care a lot less when I'm traveling alone or for work. I'd rather my Ambassador put out the full court press for the leisure stays with my husband that really matter to me.

I very much appreciate a welcome plate of cheese or chocolates or a bottle of wine, but I still care more about other service. I appreciate a note from the GM or Director of Rooms, but I usually don't mind at all if that's lacking. A great stay for me doesn't have to include those.

I don't always assume my stays for my birthday or anniversary will be the ones where my Ambassador will most shine unless I'm also staying at a luxury or more upscale hotel that executes service extremely well otherwise. I hope for but don't always assume.

I'll be at the StR Punta Mita for the week before my birthday in January--a week prior because I couldn't get the suite award deal for my actual birthday week. I blame no one for that. Yet I still know the StR will treat me well because it's a wonderful StR. I also know my Ambassador will remind them that stay is for a special occasion and encourage them to do some special things for me. Ultimately, though, I just want a flawless service and food/beverage experience...preferably with great weather!

Hopefully, those might provide some helpful perspectives. I know that publicly on FT I am known for getting some of the most amazing Ambassador treatment. I hope that my thoughts above might help others so that they can enjoy similar treatment...and know when to not expect that!


Not totally buying this better property = better execution of AMB service. Of course StR allows for better expectations than Element, but once I hit a property as an AMB, all i'm really looking for is the room booked. Upgrades are very nice, but not necessary. Cheese plates, notes from the manager?? have always frankly put 0 value there. I've lived in hotels for >10yrs..the GM doesn't care about me -- its nothing personal...just they have their own lives going on -- why do I want a meaningless note? And while I've never stayed at an Element/4Points whatever, I have stayed at lesser tier hotels than StR where I have received excellent service in response to my status.

My general ennui over AMB program has nothing to do with little perks on property and acknowledgement of special occasions (in fact I expressed disappointment when StR I was at recently acknowledged my birthday) but with actual service provided from AMB program. Again, my view is that my AMB is good, I just feel the program sets her up somewhat to fail in comparison to programs such as United's Global Service.

Totally think if SPG wants to go to spend based status that would make tremendous sense. Then perhaps they'd be more aggressive in their AMB as a service program rather than making it somewhat of a sales center.
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Old Aug 29, 2017, 11:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Dr. HFH
I note the total absence of W properties from this list....... and that W is the only property specifically mentioned on this one. Consistent with my experience at W hotels.
Agree. I would say, however, that I've had zero recognition at other W's (vs the horrible experience I had at the W Fort Lauderdale) and try to avoid them as a result.

I just find their associates AND managers to be very poorly trained and hired more for their "vibe" than their competence. The whole "W Whenever/Whatever" is farcical.
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Old Aug 30, 2017, 12:00 am
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Originally Posted by pruss2ny
Totally think if SPG wants to go to spend based status that would make tremendous sense. Then perhaps they'd be more aggressive in their AMB as a service program rather than making it somewhat of a sales center.
The issue with this in the hotel industry, though, is that many/most properties are independently owned/operated and the rate paid may not have much to do with the profitability of the guest. Yes -- the higher the rate, the greater the revenue generated but that does not necessarily mean that the guest paying the higher rate a few times a year is a greater driver of profit than the guest paying a discounted corporate rate week in, week out.

For example, from my understanding (and I may be wrong), the push over the past few years has been for chains to grow their "entry level" brands such as Four Points/Courtyard over their "full service" brands such as Sheraton/Westin/Marriott as the entry level brands have been more consistent contributors to profitability vs the "full service" brands.

I also believe that when a hotel's occupancy is at 20-30-40 percent, my value as a guest who they can count on to stay regularly at a property increases versus the last minute, unpredictable guest who pays a higher rate. Yes, it would be nice to get that last minute, unpredictable, higher rate paying guest, don't get me wrong. But if they can have me for a 3-4-5 nights and not have to turn over my room vs having a higher rate paying guest for 1 night, I think they'd prefer me at my lower rate.

Anyway, just wanted to add that unlike the airline business, I think the variables in the hotel business may make straight "revenue to status" link tougher.
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Old Aug 30, 2017, 7:05 am
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Originally Posted by Canada101
The issue with this in the hotel industry, though, is that many/most properties are independently owned/operated and the rate paid may not have much to do with the profitability of the guest. Yes -- the higher the rate, the greater the revenue generated but that does not necessarily mean that the guest paying the higher rate a few times a year is a greater driver of profit than the guest paying a discounted corporate rate week in, week out.

For example, from my understanding (and I may be wrong), the push over the past few years has been for chains to grow their "entry level" brands such as Four Points/Courtyard over their "full service" brands such as Sheraton/Westin/Marriott as the entry level brands have been more consistent contributors to profitability vs the "full service" brands.

I also believe that when a hotel's occupancy is at 20-30-40 percent, my value as a guest who they can count on to stay regularly at a property increases versus the last minute, unpredictable guest who pays a higher rate. Yes, it would be nice to get that last minute, unpredictable, higher rate paying guest, don't get me wrong. But if they can have me for a 3-4-5 nights and not have to turn over my room vs having a higher rate paying guest for 1 night, I think they'd prefer me at my lower rate.

Anyway, just wanted to add that unlike the airline business, I think the variables in the hotel business may make straight "revenue to status" link tougher.
thanks...makes sense...and also dovetails in my mind why AMB doesn't compare w/ GS...it just really can't when it's trying to herd a bunch of independent properties.
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