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How is the Marriott / Starwood merger for you? News from Loyalty 2017

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As I mentioned yesterday, I am at the Loyalty 2017 conference for three days this week.  The most interesting session from Day 2 was a presentation by the head of Marriott Rewards on the integration between that scheme and Starwood Preferred Guest.

Here is a fairly stunning number – the crossover of active Starwood Preferred Guest members with active Marriott Rewards members is just 11%.

This is, apparently, well beyond the wildest dreams of Marriott when they bought the company.  What it means is that the size of the combined Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest entity will be far bigger than the 85 million members estimated at the time of the deal.

marriott starwood merger

Marriott is proud of the work they have done so far, especially their attempts to win over loyal Starwood guests.  The fact that you could immediate status match between the two schemes and transfer points between them – literally within 5 minutes of the deal being legally completed – helped to ease the concerns of members.

No information was shared on how the two programmes will be integrated.   Some of the key points to emerge were:

Starwood elites were over-rewarded, because it was necessary.  With a small footprint, Starwood needed regular guests to make an effort to choose its properties.  Whilst it wasn’t said, this is simply not necessary under the new structure where guests have over 6,000 hotels globally.

Marriott is learning a lot from Starwood – it needs to learn how to serve the ‘elite luxury travellers’ who frequented the top SPG properties and it needs to learn more about how to reward members via experiences instead of more free stays

There is, apparently, a definite trend of members hitting Gold (mid tier) status and then moving their business elsewhere, presumably to secure status with a secondary chain as a back-up

Starwood’s ‘Suite Night Awards’ are something that impresses Marriott – allowing an elite member to lock down a guaranteed upgrade on stays which are important to them.  A suite upgrade on an overnight business trip is often not appreciated and the failure to get an upgrade on a ‘special occasion’ stay creates annoyance.

Let me be honest.

I have, so far, been proved wrong about the integration of Marriott and Starwood.

I saved a fortune on an upcoming trip to Kyoto by being able to use Starwood points to book The Ritz-Carlton, at a time when it was selling for £1,000 per night (peak cherry blossom season).  I was also able to book the new The Ritz-Carlton desert resort in Ras Al-Khaimah for a few nights during October half term for just 40,000 points per night (= 13,333 Starwood points) despite the £600 per night price tag.

Long term, of course, I may be proved right.  The simple laws of economics mean that reduced competition is likely to lead to reduced need to reward via a generous loyalty scheme.  To date, though, none of us could have asked for anything more from Marriott.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (August 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (38)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Ian says:

    Since status matching with SPG gold in December I have had 5 paid stays with Marriott (4 at Marriott branded properties and one at a JW). I’ve only been given an upgrade once. Is one out of five typical?
    I have very much enjoyed the lounge access though!

    • DonnaS says:

      No, as Marriott Premier we are upgraded 98% of the time. We have learned tricks like calling the property directly for the upgrade and/ or checking in online.

      • Ian says:

        Interesting, when you say you check in online, do you use the app?

        I was quite disappointed on my last Marriott stay as not only did I not get an upgrade, but I looked online and saw that better rooms were still available AND the rate for the weekend I had booked had fallen by about 35%!

  • DonnaS says:

    Traveling to St. Maarten, there are no Marriott properties, so I transferred points to SPG. Very easy and pleasant, however I am curious as to why the exchange is so uneven. Marriott/Ritz-Carlton has high end properties too.

  • SLS says:

    is there anything i can do with 500 marriot points? can’t transfer them out and they expire in a month.

  • startupflyer says:

    I have been pleasantly surprised, joined the accounts and transferred Marriott points to SPG for a redemption yesterday, all transferred and booked in under 10 minutes. Gold in both programs so I won’t see any difference upgrade wise.

  • Waribai says:

    Yes, very happy with the merger. Have booked a week at Domes Elounda in the summer as part of a flight+hotel package and hopefully 162k avios will be hitting my BA avios account very soon.

  • Jon says:

    Reader here whose main scheme was Marriott, and since the merger, have checked out a number of Starwood hotels, and benefited from some great suite upgrades!

    I don’t think Starwood lets you see lifetime points, so really curious to see if they will handle this in the merger.

    I was pushing for lifetime gold in Marriott before the merger, and hopeful that post-merger it will take me over the edge.

    Another few months to wait..

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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