Starwood Hotels and Resorts recently announced it will launch a loyalty scheme for meeting and travel professionals next month, on October 15, 2014.

micenet AUSTRALIA was among a select group of international MICE media invited to the official launch of the scheme, known as SPG Pro, at the St Regis Bangkok.

The all-new loyalty program is a clear indication the international hotel group, which has a strong presence in the luxury leisure market, is now focusing its sights on meetings and increasing its market share in the business events sector.

SPG Pro will combine the existing B2B loyalty schemes Starwood Preferred Planner, Starchoice, Starwood Pro across all 1200 Starwood properties globally.

Starwood president and CEO, Frits van Paasschen, said SPG Pro was designed to leverage the strength of its award-winning SPG consumer loyalty program, which drives 50 per cent of the group’s occupancy.

“We’re focusing our loyalty lens on B2B to cultivate stronger and more personal relationships with our global customers.”

Currently, B2B accounts for nearly 70 per cent of Starwood’s overall room revenue and includes corporate travel, meetings and events, and leisure and wholesale travel.

“SPG Pro will help us extend our reach beyond our managed accounts to attract new business, regional organisations and a next generation of travel professionals,” senior vice president, Starwood sales organisation, Christie Hicks, said.

“New global travel patterns are driving more corporate, leisure, and meetings business than ever before and with each 1 per cent share shift in this business, we add $80 million in revenue,” she said.

The launch of the $30 million SPG Pro program is the largest and most expensive B2B marketing program in Starwood’s history.