Hotel Rewards Programs

Rewards Programs - Marriott and Starwood Announce Changes for 2018 - BoardingArea

Excerpt from BoardingArea

Since it’s been two years since Marriott bid to acquire Marriott so it’s easy to forget that the merger only closed 14 months ago.

Quickly Marriott improved benefits introducing 4 p.m. Gold and Platinum elite check-out and trialing an Ambassador service. They also built out experiential rewards. And with the close of the merger they allowed members to elite status match and transfer points at will. Those were all impressive gestures but there’s been little public action over the last year.

Today Marriott still doesn’t have an equivalent suite upgrade benefit or offer breakfast at resorts, Courtyard properties, or on weekends. Those have to be solved. But they won’t be solved right away.

They were never going to be fully integrated in 2018. The most optimistic assessments suggested a minimum of 18 months’ work. And there are two major constraints: 

  • IT work. I’ve never seen an IT project finish early or under budget. They need to get hotels on the same platform, and they need a single platform that they’re going to merge data for members onto. Even smaller acquisitions have taken longer to handle the IT.
  • Credit card contract. Right now Starwood and Marriott have two different co-brand card issuers, American Express and Chase respectively, and their pace and ultimately even program structure may be driven by maxizing revenue across the two banks.

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