Today, two storied travel brands that are destined for the scrap heap announced a marketing partnership that only serves to make their imminent demise that much sadder.
Points earned in the loyalty program of Starwood hotels, which will be acquired and absorbed by Marriott, can now be converted at a 1:1 ratio into points in the loyalty program of Virgin America, which is being acquired by Alaska Airlines. And members of Virgin America’s Elevate program can now earn two points for every $1 spent on Starwood stays.
With Starwood points convertible to miles in the programs of 34 airlines, and the 5,000-point bonus when converting 20,000 points or more, Starwood’s Preferred Guest program offers flexibility unmatched by other hotel programs (are you listening, Marriott?), which translates into exceptional value. The addition of Virgin America to the list of transfer partners makes a good program even better. And the ability to earn Elevate points for Starwood stays is a leg up for the Elevate program as well.
The new tie-up is good news for members of both programs. But it’s also a reminder that Starwood and Virgin America’s days are numbered. And for many travelers, that’s very bad news indeed.
Reader Reality Check
I’ll miss Starwood’s Preferred Guest program, and the Virgin America brand. You?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.