Starwood Preferred Guest

Is This One of the Best or Worst Uses of Starpoints?

I was browsing through the SPG Moments website when I came across a recently ended auction that caught my attention. Someone spent 230,500 Starpoints on an AUDITION to sing the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets game. And since this was for an audition that the top three bidder would be competing for, that means two other people may have bid close to the same number of points to compete for the spot:

The winning bid of 230,500 Starpoints for an audition to sing the National Anthem at a Cubs vs. Mets game
The winning bid of 230,500 Starpoints for an audition to sing the National Anthem at a Cubs vs. Mets game

Get your chance to sing in front of thousands at Wrigley Field before the Cubs play ball. If you are one of the top three bidders for this package, you will have the opportunity to submit an audition tape, of you singing “The Star Spangled Banner”, to the Cubs for review. One of the three will be selected by the Cubs to sing before the July 18 Cubs vs. Mets game. The other two top bidders will get their Starpoints back and a pair of tickets each to the SPG Luxury Suite for a game of their choice during the second half of regular-season play. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Please note: All bidders must be able to attend the 18 July 2016 Cubs game and arrive three hours before game start for rehearsal.

The Sing the National Anthem Before a Cubs Game package includes:

  • Opportunity for one (1) to sing the national anthem at Wrigley Field before the Cubs play the Mets on 18 July 2016
  • Two (2) seats for the Chicago Cubs game against the New York Mets on Monday, 18 July 2016
  • Complimentary food and beverages for two (2) while in the suite

Guidelines and restrictions: The three (3) highest bidders for this package will win the opportunity to submit an audition tape to the Cubs. The Cubs will select one (1) bidder to sing before the July 18 game. The two (2) other bidders will have their Starpoints returned and receive (2) SPG Luxury Suite tickets each to any game in the second half of regular season play. 

In college I worked at the LA Staples Center and heard my share of awful singers who couldn’t carry a tune. So it can’t be that hard to get a gig like this. The way the auction works is that the top three bidders will get to audition and the best one gets to sing at the game. The other two will get their points back and receive two SPG Luxury Suite tickets to any game in the second half of regular season play (yes, I copied the second half of that sentence from the SPG website).

In other words, it pays to botch the audition since you walk away with two free game tickets in addition to getting your points back. As for the winner, I don’t know that singing the National Anthem at a baseball game is worth 230,500 points. Unless they’re doing it to get “discovered.” Even so, I doubt it will get them the career break they think it will (“Mariah Carey was discovered after singing the National Anthem at a Knicks game” said no one ever).

An aspiring singer with a decent voice could probably get more attention by uploading videos to Youtube – it worked for Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber – or sending A&R execs a demo tape. If this was at an LA Dodgers game, I’d understand how the exposure could possibly be valuable. Even though tons of people sing at Dodgers games without having to redeem Starpoints for the opportunity. But this is in Chicago. Bottom line, I don’t think spending 230,000+ Starpoints would be the best way to launch a singing career, which is about the only plausible reason I can think of for bidding on a package like this.

To give you an idea of how far 230,500 Starpoints will go, Starwood requires 2,000 – 35,000 points for a free night. That’s a minimum of 6 nights at a top-tier hotel (not factoring the 5th night free) or a maximum of 115 free nights at a  Category 1 Starwood hotel the winner will give up in exchange for singing at a baseball game.

This isn’t nearly as bad as the couple who redeemed 870,000 Starpoints for two business class tickets to Rome (and the fact that Starwood highlighted this redemption in their “fun fact” summary for 2012), but it’s a bit of a head scratcher – especially for the person who actually wants to come out ahead at the audition. For the other two people who lose out, it’s actually kind of a smart move.

What are your thoughts? Is this one of the best or worst uses of Starwood points? 

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  1. I think the only way this is worthwhile is if you don’t get picked. But it can be risky if all three top bidders are doing this with the intent of not getting picked. One of them will have to get chosen and that person will not only lose all those Starwood points, but they’d have to embarrass themselves by singing the anthem in front of 40,000 people. Of course there can always be someone out there with millions of points who might have that as a bucket list item.

  2. I’m willing to bet auditions will not be limited to the three bidders. I’m thinking if you have enough points for the bidding war this is a win win!

  3. Well actually I was one of the top three bidders. I bid that much because I enjoy singing and am a pretty talented singer and have been a life long Met fan. I thought it would be amazingly cool to have that experience and it would have meant more to me than flying in a suite and taking a shower on a plane with my family of 4. I did not want it for a career enhancement, I wanted it for the unique experience. This redemption was actually at about 70,000 points until Dansdeals posted about 45 minutes left that bidding and losing would be a great idea. At that point the cost skyrocketed. This effectively screwed me and whomever bid more than me because it drove the cost up. I thought it was a dick move on his part. I posted a comment on his thread at that time saying that we should game the system to stick it to the banks and not each other but he didn’t weigh in – he showed his true colors by not commenting in my opinion. In the end I was in the top 3 but my audition wasn’t chosen so I know at least 1 other of the top 3 was bidding for real because as I mentioned i’m a very good vocalist (not good enough for this though!). To be honest, part of me was relieved to get my points back. I did have buyers remorse and was a little sick that I spent so many points. I did get my points back and 2 free tickets. I think this has a few lessons in it. First, we should be doing this for experiences and not always be doing the math on what it “might” be worth, and second we need to be a bit more careful about turning against each other. Dan was looking for clicks and thus decided to post a way for us to screw each other. I didn’t end up hurt by it but whomever ended up winning paid at least 100,000 more starpoints than they would have had he not set us against each other. It left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I can kind of see the appeal at 70k, but 250k+ is still a ton of points for something like this (at least to me). I had no idea this auction became a subject of gaming – it seems like way too much work for two free game tickets (are they really good seats that cost a ton?). Sorry to hear that negatively impacted your experience. Hopefully one day you’ll get another a chance to audition and sing at a game. Trust me when I say some of the singers at the Staples Center were truly awful – they must have been short on auditions or something – so if you’re a good singer, maybe you’ll have another shot soon.

  4. Hi Ari – thanks for responding and Yes, I was surprised and annoyed that it became a target to game. The idea was to have everyone submit a terrible audition tape and thus get the free game and a points refund so no risk. The tickets are for a suite and this year they are selling for 30,000 for a pair, last year they sold for half that so the higher price is a surprise. They aren’t selling so fast at that price BTW. I agree it wasn’t worth the work but those that got involved were quite amused with themselves at the thought of the horrible singing tapes starwood would receive. Doesn’t reflect well on any of us in the hobby IMHO

    • $30k or 30k Starpoints? If its the former, then not winning the audition paid off nicely. Though I agree with you and personally wouldn’t bid just for the consolation prize – seems messed up to take it away from people who genuinely want it.

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