Now that Marriott’s takeover of Starwood is going ahead (see Starwood-Marriott merger clears final hurdle following Antitrust Approval in China), members of both loyalty schemes will be wondering about how the two loyalty programmes – Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG for short) will be affected.
Marriott has experience of running two programmes – Marriott Rewards and Ritz Carlton Rewards, so it could carry on and simply add SPG as a third. Or it could rename it “Starwood Rewards”?
It will want to keep the brand (I would have thought), since it doesn’t seem to have the intention of merging the majority of the Starwood brands into the Marriott ones, although inveitably there will be some consolidation, because no one could possibly remember all 30+ brands in the combined group.
Back in April, before a few delays hit the merger, SPG had the following to say:
“Since the original announcement, our members have asked many questions about the future of Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®). Soon we will begin the long journey to integrate the very best of SPG and Marriott Rewards®. Through this process, your perspective will help guide these discussions as we consider the following:
How do we continue to deliver the unique experiences, benefits and rewards you’ve come to expect both in and out of our hotels and resorts?
How do we take full advantage of the extraordinary new range of hotels, resorts and destinations that will be the hallmark of a combined Starwood and Marriott to add new recognition and benefits for you?
How do we protect the value of your currency and status, whether your Starpoints® balance, lifetime status or membership level?
Getting answers to these complicated, important questions will take time. In fact, we don’t anticipate launching a newly combined program until 2018. This means SPG will continue to run separately until then. In the meantime, we’re actively exploring ways to build bridges between the two programs to further enhance your experience.”
Now it looks like things are moving on.
An eagle-eyed frequent traveller spotted a couple of pieces of marketing material in a hotel on a recent trip (see above, and below).
As you can see, for those who have membership of both programmes, there is the promise there for:
- Elite Status Match, and
- Points Transfer
Frustratingly, at the moment the link is not operational – but it will soon if the marketing materials are out there.
Of course there is a long wish list of what members are hoping for in the combined programme. The likelihood of all the SPG benefits being carried across seems slim, although Marriott raised hopes by adding some benefits to its own programme this year.
These included, for Gold and Platinum Elite members, guaranteed late checkout (up to 4pm) if members request it when making a reservation by phone, by using the Marriott Mobile app, or upon arrival at the hotel. The ambiguous words here were “up to 4pm”, since this left the time to the discretion of the hotel, and thus made it meaningless.
In addition it introduced Marriott Experiences as a way of burning points. The value of this depended on whether the experiences were worth considering, and how many points they cost. On both counts it was poor.
More details will emerge when the members.marriott.com link becomes active.
[Edit – it now is live – see our story]
In the meantime, SPG members will hope that CEO Arne Sorensen remembers his comments
We will soon find out.