Virgin hoping Starwood hotels deal is a steal
With more than 1200 hotels worldwide and six properties to open in the Australia-Pacific region by June, Starwood has more than 30 airline partners, but none in Australia.
“We have talked to many airlines around the world, we have 30 airline partners globally and Qantas isn’t one of them,” said Starwood’s regional vice-president, Sean Hunt. “Virgin, frankly, were faster to the table.”
Frequent-flyer programs are seen by analysts as a buffer to the natural shocks in the airline industry, but the challenge for any such loyalty scheme is striking a balance between monetising the brand and rewarding the most loyal customers.
Qantas’s frequent-flyer business is valued at up to $3 billion. It has been mooted the airline could sell the program, but analysts are against any sale arguing it would harm Qantas’ earnings.
Under the deal announced today, Velocity members can transfer points earned from staying at Starwood Hotels into Velocity points. Starwood’s brands include St Regis, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Westin and W Hotels. “It marks a major milestone; we now have an Australian carrier we are working with, we have other airline partners around the world, but it is good to have one here in Australia,” Mr Hunt said.
“This will allow Starwood to better tap into the market of travellers and extend the company’s global reach.”
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