The marriage between Marriott and Starwood and the slow merger of loyalty programs is taking place. For the moment without too much breakage but with some points of vigilance.
Reminder of the previous episodes.
Marriott-Starwood a long delivery
2016: Marriott acquires Starwood, becoming the world’s largest hotel group.
2018: after living in parallel for two years the 3 loyalty programs (including Ritz-Carlton owned by Marriott which had remained independent) merge.
First impacts of the merger :
1°) Inflation of platinum members due to the merger of the programs and the accumulation of points between the two programs. The situation should return to normal in 2020 but this year there have been bottlenecks at the upgrade “counter”.
2°) A not too negative evolution for the former members of the Starwood Prefered Guests (SPG) program as the substance of the program known to be one of the best in the world was used as a basis for the new program. Not too much breakage (but a little), but good progress for the former Marriott Rewards members who had never been at such a great party. Fulldetails on the merger of the Marriott and Starwood programs here.
A forceps delivery with a baby that bears the scars. The IT is not up to par, nights are “forgotten”, the mobile application provides less relevant information, the hotel websites are not up to date, and, technically speaking, we can see that everything is not yet connected.
But while the program’s modus operandi was the same for all, the two programs coexisted as brands. You had the choice between the Marriott Rewards body or the SPG body even if the engine and chassis remained the same
As of February, everything will be merged, with a single identity.
When the kings of marketing strike again
On November 25 an information had leaked. The new program would be called “Bonvoy” and the statuses would not be revisited but renamed. “Bonvoy”. So laughable that the frequent flyer community was amused, some betting on a smokescreen to hide the real project of a new program.
But not! Marriott has just confirmed the name change as well as the new statuses as of February 13.
And a little video to get you started.
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A devaluation of the Platinum status
The first thing that jumps out is the apparent devaluation of platinum status to “mid tier” from “top tier” at SPG. You will tell me that the benefits remain the same, but let’s wait and see how they will be delivered.
My instinct tells me that we can expect some very bad surprises in this matter.
The marketing crazies have struck again
There were other things to do than invest in a rebranding and a totally stupid name.It’s not only at Air France that marketing has fun at the expense of the product, but at leastAir France had the intelligence to turn back.
But didn’t Marriott have better things to do?
The mobile application is more than disappointing in terms of content and operation and the “IT” challenge of the merger is still not met, leading to frustration among both customers and hoteliers.
A new Marriott app will be available on February 13 and the SPG and Ritz-Carlton apps will disappear. Let’s hope that this project will be better conducted than what has been done so far.
After falling asleep the difficult awakening
After successfully lulling former SPG customers to sleep, Marriott finally seems to be revealing its game. They bought Starwood for the DNA of a popular loyalty program and are slowly destroying its DNA
The lights are slowly turning orange and what Starwood customers have feared since the buyout is happening.
The famous hashtag symbolizing a type of experience and lifestyle will disappear de facto…but not only because of the name change. Not sure these values are reflected in the new DNA of the group and the program. Unless it serves as a rallying point for some resistance fighters.
I just want to be convinced that there is nothing to worry about but I have my doubts.
More in the next episode.
Photo : Marriott hotel by Cenz07 via Shuttestock
Post edited on 01/17/2018