Starwood and Emirates partner on loyalty programme

Alliance to bring new markets to Starwood hotels in the Middle East

Starwood's Frits Van Paasschen and Emirates' Thierry Antinori at the launch of Your World Rewards in Dubai.
Starwood's Frits Van Paasschen and Emirates' Thierry Antinori at the launch of Your World Rewards in Dubai.

Starwood and Emirates yesterday announced the launch of the Your World Rewards programme to provide reciprocal benefits to both companies’ loyalty members.

The alliance will see Starwood Preferred Guest and Emirates Skywards members benefit from elevated earnings and benefits when they fly with Emirates or stay with SPG participating hotels.

“This is a way for us to access a new set of travellers and bring loyal travellers who have an affinity for high-end brands into our system,” said Frits Van Paasschen during an interview with Hotelier Middle East yesterday in Dubai.

“This is the beginning of a deeper relationship where we can explore opportunities to create unique point of access experiences for guests and travellers from both sets of brands."

The announcement comes in the wake of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ launch of SPG Key last week, which allows guests staying at Aloft, W and Element hotels to access their rooms using their mobile phones, bypassing the need for a key card from reception.

The new alliance between Emirates and Starwood will, according to Van Paasschen, open doors for similar future innovations between the two companies to simplify the travel experience.

“With the combination of unique experiences and technology that we can develop together to make travel simpler and easier, I think there are many ways we can take this into the future,” he said.

Van Paasschen admitted that while the company currently has no like-for-like agreement with other airlines, Starwood may look to airlines in other markets to form similar partnerships.

“For this region this would be the only airline we might work with, but around the world this is something we will look at elsewhere,” he commented.

Van Paasschen stressed that while the partnership with Emirates is a regional alliance, it presents a global growth opportunity.

“What’s most exciting about this is the access points that it provides around the world. In virtually every market in which we operate SPG accounts for over half of our occupancy so this is really a global growth opportunity and it’s not really focused on any particular market.

“It helps us not only in Dubai but in the 140 cities to which [Emirates] flies. This gives us another entry point to be able to talk to travellers, some of whom are our guests but many of whom aren’t.

“We see ourselves as a global player and Emirates likewise, they’re not a regional player. They’re giving us access points to Rio de Janeiro for example,” he commented.

Starwood Preferred Guest membership has grown 400% in key emerging markets over the last five years.

The Middle East is SPG’s third fasted growing market behind China and India and one of the top 10 travel destinations for SPG members.

Starwood expects to grow its footprint in the Middle East by 70% over the next five years.

The company currently has 82 operating hotels in the Middle East and Africa and more than 20 more are expected to open by the end of 2015.

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