Marriott International announced the next step in integrating its three guest loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.
The world’s largest hotel company took pains to ensure that elite members in all three programs would find little taken away and discover new additional benefits.
Simply put, in the two years since Marriott acquired Starwood and its portfolio of hotel brands that includes Sheraton, W, and Westin, members of online forums such as FlyerTalk have wondered in discussion what Marriott would take away.
The answer turned out to be “very little.”
“We listened to the travel aspirations of our members,” said David Flueck, the hotelier’s senior vice president of global loyalty programs.
According to Flueck, guests will earn about 20% more points than they did previously.
“Kudos to Marriott,” said long-time FlyerTalk member damon88 in a post, adding that “Marriott has pleasantly surprised me.”
One thing Marriott did not do was tie status levels to revenue, something multiple airlines have done in recent years alienating many frequent-flyer program members. A night at a Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotel is equivalent to a night at a Courtyard by Marriott when nights are counted to calculate a member’s status level.
The changes will go into effect on August 1, 2018, although the three programs will continue to exist until sometime in 2019.
Starting in August, Marriott will introduce a single points currency. Members of one of the three programs will earn ten points per dollar spent on hotel charges, although that will go down to five points per dollar at Element, Residence Inn, and TownPlace Suite hotels, and 2.5 points per dollar at Marriott Executive Apartments. Members with elite status will continue to earn their respective bonuses.
Members of Starwood Preferred Guest will see their Starpoints balance multiplied by a factor of three in a one-time conversion in August.
The unified award chart will feature eight categories of rooms with three tiers of pricing, namely off-peak, standard, and peak.
Marriott is introducing a new elite tier structure with five levels of benefits. Those members who already have earned elite status will receive an equivalent elite status in August. Lifetime status may be achieved in three tiers.
Starting in August, members can combine SPG and Rewards accounts, making it possible to maintain one account and profile where users can see a unified points balance as well as elite-night balances.
Finally, Marriott chose to maintain its credit-card relationships with both American Express and JP Morgan Chase. Both credit-card issuers introduced new cards Monday in conjunction with the announcement, the Chase Premier Plus card, which will offer more points than the current Premier card does, and a “luxury” American Express card that comes with a $450 fee. Cardholders will earn six points for every dollar spent at all Marriott hotels including former Starwood properties, three points per dollar at restaurants and for flights, and two points elsewhere.
Frequent Business Traveler 4/16/2018