5 days ago Marriott International announced its path forward with its 3 programs, SPG, Marriott Rewards , & Ritz Carlton Rewards. I wrote about the announcement here. I Really was not sure what to think would happen, and I will now admit, I am skeptically, yet pleasantly surprised!
In 2016 Marriott completed the Merger of Starwood Hotels under the umbrella of Marriott International, making the biggest hotel company in the world. At the time, Marriott also had the Ritz Carlton brand that they kept as a separate company and program as well. These 3 companies / programs have operated separate , sort of for the last 2 years, and will now merge into one program in 2019.
The lead up to the announcement was genius and made many people WANT to watch it. The roll out of the announcement was sort of a flop in mu opinion. Many people stopped working to watch, and I went to a 4 pm Doctors appointment 30 minutes early so I could sit in the parking lot, in the car and watch. After logging on at 3:30pm Central time. we was met with a video with music and a 10 minute count down clock. After the count down it showed an empty stage and about another 10 minutes of waiting before an announcer came on and started showing more videos. By this time I was bored and just went online to find out the information that I needed to know, as it was posted exactly at 3:30 central time and I should have just not wasted time with the “big announcement”. Like I said before, the lead up to the announcement was genius, but apparently the people that arranged the lead up and PR for it, did NOT arrange the actual announcement.
With all that said, I am so far, very please with what was actually announced!
I will be honest with you, I feel like loyal SPG fans really dodged a bullet! I sort of feel bad now thinking Marriott would destroy SPG, maybe they really did want to learn from SPG and do what they did!
From the beginning Marriott has shown positive signs and made good moves with the steps of the merger. This announcement is another great and positive step towards a great program!
First of all, nothing changes until August of this year. Then the rest of the changes will take place February 2019.
In August (Not sure the exact day yet)
- You will have one login for all 3 programs. All your points will go into 1 account. SPG points will transfer x3, meaning if you have 1000 SPG points, they will be 3000 of the NEW points.
- New Award Chart to reflect the difference in points. Since the value of SPG and Marriott points differed, they chose to covert to Marriott points and the new award chart will reflect that.
- New Elite levels. Everyone, in all 3 programs will be converted into 1 of 5 new Elite levels right away, based on what level you are today or at time of switch over (not sure). The new Elite levels are very similar to what all 3 programs already had and in all honesty they did a great job taking care of everyone.
- You can ONLY earn elite “nights”, no longer “stays”, and ONLY for 1 room. Before SPG allowed you to have 3 rooms and earn nights and points on both, NOW, after August, you will earn points on up to 3 rooms, but only earn elite night credit on one room, the room you stay in. This is a BIG downer for me! This is a bit unfair, because if I pay for 3 rooms, why wouldn’t I earn for them? Anyway, this is a holdover from Marriott, and hopefully they will reverse or meet us in the middle somehow.
- Some Higher end properties will cost less because of the new point conversion and redemption chart, especially this year until the new Category 8 goes into effect along with peak times.
- SPG members can supposedly still get status based on SPG rules for 2018.
- to Reach Platinum Ambassador status you will need to spend $20,000. This, to me , is a way that Marriott is weeding out the loyal, but not so rich members like me. I can easily stay 100 nights, but unless I suddenly get rich, I cannot reach $20k in spend on Marriott hotels alone in one year. Luckily its not a huge deal, but…
In 2019 (Feb 1 I think)
- New program name will be announced and the program will finally be one.
- New Category 8 will be announced, along with Peak and off Peak times for redemptions.
- All earning, and elite qualification is based on one program under new rules.
I still have a few questions about the merger.
- Will I be able to earn Platinum 100 this year without spending 20k? According to what I’ve heard SPG members can reach status based on SPG rules for 2018.
- The status conversion table differs from when you click on SPG member or Marriott Rewards member. For example, if you look at the above chart, it is from SPG, and it says a 50 night platinum, which is what I am this year ( I worked on other programs last year too) that I would covert over to a platinum Elite. But if you look at the conversion chart for MR members it says Platinum Elite members convert over to Platinum Premier Elite. Since Marriott and SPH do status matches, I am both a 50 night with SPG and a Platinum Elite with Marriott, so what program do I switch from? I hope Marriott!
- Will the partnership with Delta go away? So far it is supposed to stay until July and then an announcement, I hope it stays because it works perfect that I fly delta and stay SPG / Marriott, and I think many others do as well!
- Will they get everyone excited and next year gut the program? Before the 16th, I would of had to think about it, now I truly feel they will not and they will realize and profit from the value of SPG..
I wont review this change too much as its been written and blogged about like crazy, but I have to say, for the most part, I am very happy with the current and pending changes!
In my opinion, Marriott Hotels, and Starwood Hotels had two different cultures. Neither was bad, but SPG hotels just seemed to get excited about making you go WOW! I just hope, that SPG wins out on the corporate culture struggle that is probably already underway!
I can say I have for several months noticed quite clearly that certain customer service options, being online, or on the phone were handled by Marriott people instead of SPG, as you could tell a different attitude and the feeling you got when you chatted or spoke to CS before wasn’t there. Maybe its just me…
Like said, I’m very happy, for the most part with the changes!
I do have a few silly goals, one being that I stay at all 11 SPG brands before the August change, and that I stay in all the regions SPG has on its SPG Dashboard. I think I will make it, even though SPG stopped giving 10k points for doing that, its just something I feel I need to want to do!
My big birthday stay (s) in Vegas, Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be BEFORE the August change, so really I am celebrating my birthday, and remembering the soon to end awesome SPG program. Good news is, it looks like the new program is very similar.
Thanks for reading, and PLEASE, TRAVEL MORE!!!