If you are a Starwood Preferred Guest member (the loyalty scheme for Sheraton, Westin, Aloft, W, St Regis, Le Meridien etc) you will be pleased to know that they have added a new London hotel.
The Great Northern Hotel in Kings Cross station is joining Starwood’s nascent ‘Tribute’ brand as its 2nd property.
The hotel was fully renovated as part of the redevelopment of Kings Cross and reopened two years ago with a definite 1930’s feel. I was, by coincidence, in the Great Northern for the first time last month with John McAslan, the architect behind the Kings Cross rebuild, but that is a story for another day.
I wrote about Tribute in this article. Rather like Marriott’s Edition and Hilton’s Curio Collection, Tribute is aimed at independent hotels which want to benefit from the advantages of being part of a chain but which do not want to be bound by the ‘operating manual’ structure of a normal franchise.
From 9th September, you will earn SPG points when you stay at the Great Northern, and it is also available for redemption. Your SPG status benefits will be honoured.
The hotel is looking good value for SPG redemptions. It is showing as 12,000 points per night – a bargain compared to 25,000 points per night for the Park Tower, W London or Le Meridien Piccadilly. For a random date I picked in October, a cash room was £299 so you would be getting 2.5p per SPG point. Be aware, though, that the entry level Couchette Rooms are reportedly very small.
The hotel itself has just 91 rooms. To quote from the Starwood website:
“Our 91 sumptuous rooms offer complete serenity blending innovative design with bespoke furniture, period features and cutting-edge technology. Uninterrupted views across the strikingly remodelled King’s Cross and St Pancras stations add to their charm.
Discover a new favourite or rediscover a classic amid a distinctive dining ambience. Elegant and relaxed, Plum + Spilt Milk serves seasonal, British dishes with a twist. With its seductive interiors, our Belle Epoque-style GNH Bar is one of Europe’s most glamorous railway bars.”
The economics of hotel marketing in 2015
In an article in the Financial Times, the owner of the hotel explained why he had signed up with Tribute. The figures are fascinating:
The hotel was spending £300,000 per year on ‘search engine optimisation’ and pay-per-click advertising. I am stunned by this, frankly, especially for a hotel with just 91 rooms. HFP ranks OK on Google and my entire SEO expense was £17 for a copy of ‘Search Engine Optimisation for Dummies‘ (which I recommend).
Tribute is a cheaper way for him to sell rooms than ‘generating online buzz’. (If true, he was paying the wrong people to generate his buzz! Head for Points occasionally features interesting hotels in London, eg here and here and here, and I would certainly have written about Great Northern if they had invited me round. Which they didn’t.)
Online Travel Agents generate 45% of his bookings ….
…. but he is paying them 20% – 21% commission.
Starwood, on the other hand, is taking just 4% – 6% of his room revenues.
The move to Tribute is expected to see ‘cost of sales’ as a % of room revenue fall from 18% to 12.5%.
When I was in the Great Northern, I did wonder why it was not part of a chain – especially as there are a lot of tourists emerging from Eurostar just a few seconds away and looking for a reliable place to stay. Whilst I never got further than the downstairs areas, it is an impressive looking hotel and a good addition to Tribute and to SPG.
(Want to earn more hotel points? To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)