It’s time to start seeing other hotel chains

Over the past several years, I’ve been mostly a brand advocate of Starwood and somewhat of a brand assassin of American Airlines. But two recent experiences have flipped my attitudes on their head.
I travel a fair bit for work and, until recently, was Executive Platinum on American, and Platinum with Starwood. When I moved to Florida it become more difficult to fly exclusively on American, and I subsequently dropped to Gold. But, American sent a really cool letter telling me that they valued my business and loyalty and elevated my status for the year to Platinum in the hopes that I could maintain that level the subsequent year.
Starwood, on the other hand, went from confirming my Platinum status for this year on my “my account” page, to then telling me I hadn’t stayed enough times last year and dropping my status without communication in the Spring. I’ve reached out on several occasions and in various media, but just had a conversation with a rep who rudely told me that their system confirms that I didn’t have enough stays and that there was nobody else that I could discuss it with.
So, I see this as a tale of two approaches. American has figured out – in this instance at least – how to insert some empathy into it’s program and communication. But, as for Starwood, it’s time for me to start seeing other hotel chains. Even though I fly multiple airlines now, I still fly American enough to reach Gold or Platinum status each year. Likewise, I probably won’t abandon Starwood completely, but they have definitely gone from the front of my wallet to much further down in the pecking order.
What’s the key for success? Make sure empathy is an integral ingredient in your loyalty, marketing, and communication programs.



  1. Fatemeh Khatibloo says:

    AA seems to understand “proportional customer value:” you moved to a market where they have to compete w/a value carrier (JetBlue) — and where they don’t have nearly as many flights to serve you. Simply put, in that market, you are still an incredibly valuable customer. So, they are treating you proportionally to the other people in that market.

    They also probably know, by your demographics, that your lifestyle has a high likelihood to change again. If they keep you happy now, they don’t have to re-win your business later. That’s smart business. I’m impressed.

  2. customerhelix says:

    Yeah, I agree Fatemeh. Now, if they could just sort out the mess that is MIA, I’d fly them more and might actually get back to Exec Platinum ;-)


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