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American Express and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Predict Post Recession Rise in 'Bleisure Travel'More canny globe trotters set to combine business and pleasure trips
NEW YORK,  May 1, 2010 -- 

New research1 released today (1st May 2010) from American Express and Starwood Hotels & Resorts' loyalty programme -- Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) -- has revealed the trend for 'bleisure travel' (where business trips are extended into a leisure break), is set to become even more popular with post recession business travellers, seeking to save money on trips both in the UK and overseas.

According to the research, a third of the UK's business travellers (33%) have previously taken their partner, children, or friend with them on business and extended the trip into a holiday. However, a further 27%, are now hoping to be able to do so in the future.

The research released today to mark the launch of The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express revealed that business travellers are already looking at ways of maximising rewards and points earned from their business travel spending. Almost two-thirds (60%) of business travellers currently collect rewards and points such as free flights and upgrades, on travel related reward schemes and credit cards. As many as four in ten of them use these rewards or points to subsidise or upgrade their leisure holidays.

Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of SPG said: "With the economy continuing to recover, more and more companies are sending employees back on the road to meet with clients, conduct business and focus on driving revenue. As this increases, it's no surprise that business travellers hoping to maximise time spent away from home would extend work trips into holidays for themselves and their loved ones. At SPG, we are thrilled that our new Credit Card partnership with American Express will provide these guests a way to make the most of their business travel and everyday spend by rewarding them with valuable Starpoints that can be redeemed for leisure stays at our portfolio of best-in-class hotels around the world."

When they do manage to incorporate a little leisure time into their business trip, the research revealed the most popular recreational activities experienced by business travellers to be:

  1. Sight seeing
  2. Dining in the hotel restaurants/bar
  3. Use of hotel gym and fitness facilities
  4. Use of spa
  5. Entertainment such as shows and concerts

Katrina Cliffe, Head of Consumer Cards from American Express said: "With the new Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express, savvy business and leisure travellers can make the most of their everyday spending by earning Starpoints as they spend on the Card. The Card provides a clever way to earn benefits and rewards that can make future trips more pleasurable, regardless of whether travelling for business, leisure, or both."

Only a small proportion of UK business travellers (18%) said they would not mix business trips with family leisure holidays, preferring to travel alone.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express will be available in the UK from 1st May, offering premium rewards to business and leisure travellers.

Key product features and benefits:

  • Enrolment into the Starwood Preferred Guest® programme (see below for more details)
  • 1 Starpoint for every full £1 per transaction spent on the Card2
  • Cardmembers will earn 10,000 bonus points if they spend £1000 on their card in the first three months of Cardmembership, worth up to three free nights in a category 2 hotel
  • Upgrade to Gold Preferred Guest tier after £15,000 annual spend on the card providing 50% more Starpoints at Starwood Preferred Guest hotels and resorts
  • Complimentary Weekend Night in any Starwood Preferred Guest Category 1-4 hotel after £25,000 annual spend on the card
  • There are no limits to how many Starpoints Cardmembers can earn
  • A combined cash and points payment option for even greater flexibility
  • Supplementary Cards - Cardmembers can apply for fee-free Supplementary Credit Cards for friends or family members, meaning more points can be accrued even more quickly
  • Per annum rate of 19.9% variable for goods and purchases (32% APR variable including the £75 annual fee)

Starwood Preferred Guest is made up of nine unique hotel brands including St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element and has 1000 properties in 100 countries. Starpoints earned on spending on the Card, can be redeemed for rewards such as:

  • Complimentary hotel nights without blackout dates
  • Room upgrades
  • Complimentary flights with no blackout dates with over 350 airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines
  • Once in a lifetime experiences such as VIP concert tickets and opportunities to meet celebrities through SPG Moments

What spending on the Card can earn:

Starpoints Reward this equates to :
1000-1500 Room upgrade at Category 1-4 properties such as Le Méridien Vienna, Austria
3000 - 4000 1 night in a Category 2 property such as Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
10,000 Up to 4 nights at a Category 1 property such as Sheraton Sharm Hotel Resort, Villas & Spa, Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
1 night in a Category 4 property such as Aloft Abu Dhabi
15,000 Airline ticket valued at £98-£141 from participating airlines
28,000 5 nights for the price of 4 at a category 3 property such as The Westin Grand Capetown Arabella Quays, South Africa
32,000 2 complimentary weekday nights in a category 5 property such as the Turnberry -- A Luxury Collection Resort, Scotland
50,000 2 Complimentary weekend nights in a Category 6 property such as W New York -Times Square, New York, USA


 Other Card travel benefits3:

  • Automatic Travel Accident Insurance Benefit -- Up to £150,000 in the event of loss of life, sight or limb while travelling on public transport with any airline ticket purchased with the card
  • Denied Boarding -- Up to £150 for meals and refreshments charged to the card will be refunded due to cancelled or over booked flights or if a connection is missed and no alternate travel arrangements are made within four hours or more of original scheduled departure
  • Flight delays -- If a flight is delayed or if you miss a connection due to the original delay and no alternate travel arrangements are made within four hours of original scheduled departure, up to £150 will be refunded for meals and refreshments charged to the card. If the delay exceeds six hours or after 10pm a further £150 will be reimbursed for a hotel stay if charged to the card
  • Luggage Delay and Extended Luggage Delay Benefit -- If luggage is delayed for more than six hours after landing up to £600 will be refunded for essential items purchased on the Card, if the luggage still hasn't arrived within 48 hours a further allowance of £850 is available
  • Global Assist -- Access to a 24 hour emergency line for medical or legal help should the Cardmember, their partner or children travelling with them require it
  • Purchase Protection Benefit -- Up to £20,000 per year or £2,500 per claim covering stolen or damaged eligible items bought on the card for up to 90 days after the date of purchase
  • Refund Protection Benefit -- If a UK retailer refuses a refund on an eligible purchase within 90 days from when it was bought, on or offline, we will refund the purchase price up to a maximum of £250 per item

For more information or to apply for a Card visit: www.amex.co.uk/spg.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world, with 1000 properties in 100 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

About Starwood Preferred Guest
The SPG programme's breakthrough policy of No Blackout Dates at the world's most sought after collection of hotels, reinvented the hospitality loyalty programme when it launched in 1999. By creating a programme centered on its members, SPG has developed the most passionate and knowledgeable membership base in the hotel loyalty space. Through its use of new technologies and innovative channels such as SPG.com, SPG.com/flights, thelobby.com, @spginsider, and others, SPG continues to innovate and lead the industry. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at 890 properties, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once in a lifetime experiences available through SPG Moments, the programme has proven to be a big draw for the world's most frequent travellers, and a significant competitive advantage for Starwood.

Note to Editors:
1 American Express business travel research -- OnePoll surveyed over 1950 UK adults 18+ online in March 2010, who travel either abroad or in the UK twice or more in one year
2 Product factsheet available on request
3 Certain exclusions apply visit amex.co.uk/spg for the complete Terms & Conditions of the Starwood Preferred Guest ® Credit Card from American Express


Contacts

Doug Smith01273 216671doug.w.smith@aexp.comElle Denton01273 212623elle.denton@aexp.comJacquie Goozee+44 (0) 127 321 6674jacquie.goozee@aexp.com

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