Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest have announced their promotions for the summer. They take somewhat different paths on how they reward members.
Marriott is focusing on getting their customers to visit multiple brands. SPG is more broadly focused on getting stays of 2 nights or more, regardless of brand. It’s an interesting difference. I’m certain SPG has the tech to pull off a promotion like Marriott. I wonder why one half of the combined company feels like they want to get folks visiting multiple brands while the other doesn’t.
A Little Bit Of Math
For ease of comparison (and because the property list is so weak), I’m not including the 1,500 bonus points for SPG AMEX cardholders in my math.
SPG is offering double points on weekday stays of 2 nights or more and triple points on weekend stays of 2 nights or more.
I value SPG points at a bit more than 2 cents, though I think the current conversion rate of 3:1 between Marriott and SPG is probably a wee bit generous in favor of SPG members. Again, for ease of comparison, I’m going to use a 3:1 conversion rate for my math.
Let’s use a 2-night stay as our example. Under the Marriott promotion, you’d earn 2,000 bonus points if it wasn’t a unique brand, 4,000 if it was a unique brand.
SPG is doubling (or tripling) just the base earnings. That’s pretty standard fare for these types of promotion. If we use that 3:1 ratio, we need to pay $333 for that two-night weekday stay ($167 a night) to earn 666 extra Starpoints. 666 Starpoints converts to roughly to 2,000 Marriott Rewards points. That’s our rough break-even on a 2-night stay at both chains.
When we look at the 4,000 point bonus for unique Marriott brands, we need to generate 1,333 Starpoints to hit break-even. That’s $333 a night. Clearly, weekday stays at a unique Marriott brand are going to be easier to rack up points than a 2-night stay at your average SPG property. $333 is a pretty high nightly rate.
When we look at SPG’s triple points opportunities for weekend stays, the math obviously shifts. Now, we’re earning an extra 4 points per dollar on a 2-night weekend stay. A rate of $84 per night would yield an extra 333 Starpoints per night. So, weekend stays need a much lower paid rate with SPG than Marriott if you’re not staying at a unique Marriott. Double the nightly rate to roughly $167 at SPG to get your comparison to the 4,000 point Marriott bonus for unique brands.
Obviously, a one-night stay is better booked with Marriott if you can get at least two in during the promotion period.
The Final Two Pennies
Marriott clearly comes out ahead on the side-by-side comparison in many scenarios. For starters, all stays count, not just stays of 2 nights or more. Marriott’s tremendous size and coverage comes into play as well. It should be easy to hit at least 3 or 4 different brands for the typical road warrior. If my math is right, that 4,000 point bonus is going to provide more value for most stays.
It still surprises me that SPG isn’t mimicking the Marriott promo. The Marriott promo is on whole more generous than the previous one. That being said, I still don’t think we’re moving back to a time of more rewarding promotions. Take advantage of 4,000 bonus points per stay while you can!