We have been following the proposed Marriott–Starwood merger with interest, as these two powerhouse names in the travel industry join forces. At the end of March, the third-party consortium which was led by Anbang Insurance Group pulled their offer, leaving the field clear for Marriott and Starwood to continue with their planned shareholder meetings to approve the deal.
Both company’s shareholders overwhelmingly approved Marriott’s purchase of Starwood, and the merger is expected to be completed by the middle of this year. One of the biggest questions for the consumer has been what the rewards programs will look like following the merger, as both companies have unique programs for rewards.
Marriott has begun to share what their plans are for rewards going forward. For a time, it appears they will attempt to run two parallel programs, until they can complete the integration into one new program for all the brands involved.
Some of the elements of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program that Marriott has indicated they are including in their new rewards program will be an Experiences Marketplace, Elite Concierge Service and Guaranteed Late Check-out.
The Experiences Marketplace will give Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Members the opportunity to redeem points for special events, including sporting events, theater tickets and other interests. This is expected to be available to existing Marriott Rewards members in late May.
Elite Concierge Service and Guaranteed Late Checkout will be benefits available to elite members of the Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards programs. The Elite Concierge Service will match a member with a concierge to help them plan for their “unique needs” before, during and after their stay in a Marriott property.
Marriott is planning to make this service available first to an introductory group of Elite U.S. members and expand from there. Guaranteed Late Checkout will launch worldwide on May 16 and is a benefit for current Gold and Platinum Elite Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carton Rewards members.
The value of being a rewards member with Marriott has increased with these announcements and should be a relief to those in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. We can’t wait to see how the implementation of these new benefits goes, and will continue to watch the completion of this merger and its effects on the travel and hospitality industry.