Updated on August 4, 2015
Starwood Suite Night Awards (SNAs) typically remain unconfirmed because the standard suites have been fully booked. Some Platinum members use a trick to get a suite confirmed every time. How do they do it? I interviewed a friend to find out how, but doing so could get you in hot water. SPG Platinum Status Sub-tiers SPG implemented a major change to its award program a few years ago which established sub-tiers within its Platinum tier. The more nights you stay, the more perks you get:
- Platinum (standard) – members who have 25 stays in a calendar year
- Lifetime Platinum – members who have maintained Platinum status in any 10 years AND have had 500 nights during the membership lifetime
- Platinum 50 – members who have 50 nights in a calendar year
- Platinum 75 – members who have 75 nights in a calendar year
- Platinum 100 – members who have 100 nights in a calendar year
As noted above, those who have achieved Platinum 50, 75, or 100 receive 10 Suite Night Awards (SNAs) which can be redeemed for upgrades to suites and select premium rooms, which may be confirmed starting 5 days prior to arrival (and subject to availability). If you aren’t a Plat 50/75/100, check out this post on stacking elite credits from multiple Amex SPG cards. Short by 10 nights? No problem.
ISSUES REDEEMDING SUITE NIGHT AWARDS (SNAs)
The two most frustrating aspects of SNAs are:
- Technical glitches preventing the application of SNAs to reservations booked with eligible rates (including award reservations) – details including how to fix the issue explained here
- Successfully applied SNAs to reservation but SPG is unsuccessful in confirming/securing the suite – rendering the SNAs useless for the particular reservation
The primary reason why SNAs remain unconfirmed at the date of check-in is because the standard suite eligible for SNA upgrade has been fully booked (sold out). It’s possible there are last minute cancellations which would redeposit the standard suite into the upgrade pool – but that’s the more then exception than the norm.
THE TRICK, REVEALED
I discovered this trick when traveling with a friend and interviewed him to get the details. I don't usually need a suite because I usually share a room with the Mrs and am rarely in the room. Nevertheless, I am often upgraded to a suite (one of the main reasons Starwood is my favorite hotel chain). My friend, however, often has several additional people sharing the room, making a suite more valuable. This strategy is likely to get him or anyone else who tries in trouble. I like my Platinum Status too much to risk trying this. And it's too much hassle in my opinion. In short, it involves creating several dummy cash reservations for suites and canceling them prior to the deadline:
- Make a reservation for a standard room using your own SPG account and apply the SNAs to the (legitimate) reservation. Most people (myself included) stop here, and sleep with fingers crossed that the SNA will clear prior to check-in
- Confirm the hotel’s cancellation policy is 5 days (or less) prior to check-in. Use different SPG accounts (my friend created dummy accounts under different names) to create dummy cash-rate reservations for standard suites at the same property for the same date. Use a credit card for these dummy reservations that’s different from the one used for the legitimate reservation
- Five days prior to the check-in date, cancel all the dummy reservations. This will free up the standard suites for redeposit into the upgrade pool and your suite night award should kick in.
Interesting idea, but hold on. Besides potentially getting your account shut down and losing your points, there are many limitations to this trick:
- Cancellation policy – some SPG properties have cancellation policies greater than 5 days prior to check-in. Clearly, the trick won’t work if the dummy reservations are cancelled 30 days prior to check-in but the SPG system doesn’t start working on SNAs until 5 days prior to check-in.
- Cash Deposits – most SPG properties do not require deposits at the time of reservation. If the property you have in mind requires a deposit, you probably don’t want to try this trick
- During peak periods, hotels occasionally oversell rooms, including suites. Cancelling the dummy reservations will simply free up the suites to be taken by oversold reservations or those who are wait-listed.
- Other SPG Plats at the same property – it is possible there are more SPG Plats using SNAs than dummy reservations made. For example, if you made and cancelled 5 dummy reservations for suites but there are 10 SPG Plats using SNAs for the same period, the chances of confirming your SNAs are 50%. In other words, the only thing your dummy reservations achieved was increase the chances of clearing SNAs at the expense of blocking legitimate cash paying customers from booking suites, which is a crappy thing to do to the hotel.
CONCERNS / WARNINGS
This trick is unethical and is likely against SPG's lengthy terms and conditions. As mentioned above, this trick is significantly increasing the chances of clearing your SNAs at the expense of blocking legitimate cash paying customers from being able to book standard suites. If a bunch of Platinum members start doing this, especially at the same hotel, I see some people getting their accounts closed and points forfeited in the near future. Personally, I'm not interested in trying this and I do not recommend you try this either. I know this works because my friend has demonstrated this trick on many occasions – and it worked every time. If you have friends who always seem to be getting suite upgrades, this may be how they are doing it. This is similar to the seat-blocking tactic on an AA some have been using to secure a flight upgrade, except this trick follows through with multiple dummy bookings. SPG reserves the right to cancel accounts and forfeit all SPG pts in the cancelled account. There are various ways in which your account may be flagged so do not try this!
Here are a few of my SPG Platinum suite upgrades I have received in the past (no trick was used, just part of the normal upgrade system):
I must stress again: This trick is unethical and is likely against SPG's lengthy terms and conditions. As mentioned above, this trick is significantly increasing the chances of clearing your SNAs at the expense of blocking legitimate cash paying customers from being able to book standard suites. I have not tried this and I do not recommend any of my readers try this. There are various ways in which your account may be flagged and SPG reserves the right to cancel accounts and forfeit all SPG pts in the cancelled account.
A Word to SPG
To Starwoods: Want to fix this issue? Confirm SNAs at the time of booking – similar to Hyatt's Diamond Suite Upgrades. Plats have been complaining about this issue since the introduction of SNAs – with some Plats to resorting to unethical tactics such as suite blocking. Change the terms of SNAs so everyone else has a fair shot.
- Easy Short Cut to Starwood SPG Platinum Elite Status
- No Suite Upgrades All Year And SPG’s Apology
- Apparently I don’t understand how Starwood suite upgrades work anymore…
- Points Miles & Martinis – First experience using SPG Suite Night Awards
- Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Confirmed Suite Upgrades
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“Hey guys, this seems unethical, but I’m going to enable you with a complete walk through anyhow”
“Hey guys, AA allows seat blocking without the need to book/hold reservations – just get past seat selection and viola”
Don’t shoot the messenger…
An easy fix for Starwoods is implementation of a 30 day cancellation policy for cash bookings on standard suites. I guess any cancellation policy > 5 days would work too, but the longer the policy, the more effective the policy.