Photo: John Storey / Special To The Chronicle 2015
Almost two years after its acquisition of Starwood Hotels, Marriott International has set August 18 as the date when it will finally combine its three existing frequent guest programs – Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest — into one. On that date, you’ll be able to book awards on a new platform at new redemption levels- with some increases and decreases.
“For the first time since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, the programs will operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency spanning the entire loyalty portfolio of 29 brands and more than 6,500 participating hotels in 127 countries,” a spokesperson said.
The company said the loyalty programs have a combined membership of a whopping 110 million worldwide. (By comparison, Hilton Honors has about 70 million members.)
Marriott is warning members that starting August 18, its loyalty websites and apps might occasionally be unavailable as the programs are brought together onto a single platform. “This means during this planned system transition there will be times when no one can make a booking, and times when we will only be accepting credit card bookings. As a result of those particular instances, members will not be able to book a redemption stay or have their member number attached to their reservation,” the spokesperson said.
When SPG members do log into their accounts, they’ll see a pop-up with their new 9-digit account number for the combined program. (SPG numbers will no longer work.) Passwords won’t change unless the account holder changes it. The company said some existing Marriott Rewards members might also get new account numbers and will be notified by email or telephone.
SPG points convert to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio.
On August 18, the company will launch a new SPG app with the same functionality as the Marriott Rewards app, including Mobile Requests. SPG points in newly unified or transferred accounts will be multiplied by three to convert them to Marriott Rewards point equivalence in the new account currency.
The company has also rolled out a new combined awards chart that shows both the current and new point requirements for award stays at individual hotels. “Between now and August 18, members should maximize their redemption power by checking out the previously published Free Night Award Chart and deciding if they want to redeem before or after the new rates take effect,” the spokesperson said.
The three loyalty program names will still remain in place for now, but the company is expected to introduce a new identity and name for the unified program early next year. Marriott estimates that under the new unified program, members will earn points faster than before – about 20 percent more points per dollar spent.
Under the new terms, the standard earning rate will be 10 points per dollar spent at all the company’s Starwood, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott brands except for Residence Inns, TownePlace Suites and Element, which will earn five points per dollar. Points will be earned not just on room bills but also on in-hotel purchases. The company will also revise and standardize the number of nights required to achieve elite status levels. A few months ago, we ran a story about the details of Marriott’s plans for the combined loyalty program. You can read it here.
Here’s what points & miles bloggers are saying about this big move:
Gary Leff at View from the Wing blog: “The new program creates winners and losers, mostly taking elements of the Starwood elite program and bringing them over while increasing the requirements for top status given Marriott’s much bigger footprint.”
Ben Schlappig at One Mile at a Time: “This is a huge undertaking for Marriott, and it’s likely to take hours for that to happen, assuming everything goes as planned. At that point it will be a free for all to take advantage of some of the best redemption values we’ve ever seen with the program.”
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
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