Virtually every major airline and hotel program offers “elite” status, certain privileges that you can earn by flying a certain amount of miles, staying so many nights or spending a lot of money. What many people don’t know, though, is that several of these same companies offer “secret” status that you may not get, no matter how much you spend.
Airline levels are better known than their hotel counterparts. At least the airlines admit their existence, anyway. Delta has “360,” American has “Concierge Key” and United has “Global Services.” There’s no set criteria for receiving these tiers. Rather, airlines tend to give them to VIPs, people who control travel dollars at their company (for example, the head of the corporate travel department at a large company) or extraordinarily profitable individual customers. You’ll receive priority upgrades, direct phone lines to agent and/or pre-arranged transfers at the airport.
Hotels are much more secretive about their premium tiers. Marriott does have Platinum Premier, which they give to the top couple of percent of customers every year, although there aren’t many benefits that are different from the usual platinum. On the other hand, they also offer Five-Star status. Members are hand-picked by Mr. Marriott himself, and include people such as the board of directors. Very little is known about the privileges that members receive, but thing of them as the VIPest of VIPs.
Starwood VIP No Longer?
According to one source, as part of the Marriott merger, Starwood is eliminating its VIP program. This is not the first swipe that Starwood has taken at the program. A few years ago, when the merger was announced, the company knocked a bunch of members off of the list. Now, it appears that the program is going away altogether. Originally, it was meant for travel influencers or property owners, although the company was a touch more liberal about giving it out than Marriott. While there were a few perks that came with the status, the biggest one was a guaranteed upgrade to at least a standard suite (but usually better) at the time of booking. It looks, though, that Marriott continues to align the programs, and the VIP program was one victim.
I guess that it was good while it lasted for those who had it.
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