Marriot announces new program for Reward Members
Ever since Marriot International Inc. acquired Starwood Hotel and Resorts Worldwide inc. a year and half ago – members of both companies’ rewards programs have wondered whether the two plans would combine – and what perks they’d lose in the bargain. On Monday, Marriot announced its new integrated loyalty program with a benefits package that allows customers to keep lifetime status under the old programs and at the same time, increases the rate at which they points through hotel stays by an average of 20 percent.
Members had “a lot of anxiety around what’s going to happen when you merge the programs,” David Flueck, Marriott’s senior vice president in charge of loyalty, said in an interview. “What will be welcome news, and almost surprising, is that we didn’t use this as a time to make the programs less rich -- we’re actually investing more in our members.”
Marriots acquisition of Starwood created the worlds biggest hotel company with 30 brands and more than 1.2 million rooms. More than half of Marriots room revenue comes from loyalty members, many of whom book stays directly, rather than online travel agencies.
Marriott Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson called the loyalty program “the name of the game for the future.”
Hotel owners pay Marriot for points awarded through stays. Theoretically, increasing member benefits could raise their expenses, however Fleuck said the company reduced the cost to landlords by 15 percent, sharing the proceeds from the newly negotiated credit card deals with the banks.
“What will be welcome news, and almost surprising, is that we didn’t use this as a time to make the programs less rich -- we’re actually investing more in our members.”
The changes are due to start in August, but some of the programs features havnt been announced or will not take effect until next year. Marriot has yet to announce what the new program will be called.
When interviewed regarding the new program, “It’s the vacation stuff that matters,” said Alex Diacre, a longtime Starwood loyalist. “I can handle the grind of work travel if I get to use points in my personal life.”
Marriott International, Inc. is a leading global lodging company with more than 6,500 properties across 127 countries and territories, reporting revenues of more than $22 billion in fiscal year 2017. Founded by J. Willard and Alice Marriott and guided by family leadership for 90 years, the company is headquartered outside of Washington, D.C. in Bethesda, Maryland.