There’s big news in the hotel industry this morning. I woke up to the following Tweet:
Marriott, one of the biggest players in the hotel industry, is buying Starwood. Scott Mayerowitz had the scoop this morning, and it’s a big scoop. For those of you who like to leverage loyalty programs for wonderful vacations, it’s probably a bad scoop as well.
Fans of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program should love this announcement. They get a number of top-notch properties in markets where Marriott may already have a presence but likely nothing as special as properties like The Hotel Danieli in Venice or the Arion in Greece. It adds some overlap in the Four Points and Sheraton brands for properties at the bottom of the market as well.
For Starwood Preferred Guest fans, there’s not much to love if the loyalty programs get combined, something I would view as highly likely. When we were talking about a combination of Hyatt and Starwood, the discussion was about two chains much more similar in size. But, given how big Marriott is (roughly 3 times as many properties as Starwood) and how many members Marriott Rewards has, that’s likely the surviving program.
If SPG does get folded into Marriott Rewards, SPG elite members stand to lose such benefits as suite upgrades for Platinum members and lifetime elite status that’s much more valuable than the version offered by Marriott.
Other benefits that could go away are SPG’s incredibly generous transfer ratio to airline partners (1:1 with a 25% bonus for larger transfers), a more generous version of Nights & Flights and the credit card relationship with American Express.
For me, the biggest loss is the devaluation of my lifetime Platinum status with SPG. I have elite status with Marriott through my United Airlines elite status but haven’t stayed at a Marriott hotel in years.
There is the potential for a DOJ review here for market share issues, but I don’t see that as being a serious impediment.
Lots more to come on Scott’s early scoop this morning.