Is Marriott Breaking Starwood Preferred Guest?

a staircase with red carpet and stairs in a building

More than a year after the marriage of Marriott and Starwood was finally approved, it’s fair to question where we stand.  I count myself amongst the people who may have gotten a bit too excited when Marriott and SPG rolled out some customer-friendly changes pretty much immediately.  Plenty of exciting things to come, right?

Mergers of this size take time, many systems need to be integrated.  The red tape involved is almost unfathomable.  One of the best stats to illustrate this is a number Maya Liebman, CIO of American Airlines has referred to in the past.  When US Airways and American Airlines merged, they had over 700 instances where two systems would need to merge.  Now that a year’s worth of water has passed under the Marriott/SPG bridge, what do we know that we didn’t last year?  Not much.

Will Marriott and SPG become one loyalty program?
If so, when?
When will a stay at a Marriott hotel count towards status with SPG, or vice versa?

These are all good questions.  I think it’s fair to assume we would have received some answers by now.  I’m especially surprised there’s been no news at all on a timeline of when the two chains will consider the sum total of a customer’s business at both chains when evaluating what elite status level they’ve earned.

The vexing part here is that figuring that out shouldn’t be hard.  Follow me for just a minute.  Marriott and SPG have the plumbing to link your accounts and status match. That means they have a subset of customers who they have verified which accounts match which.  Running database queries on that combined list isn’t hard.  What happens next might be difficult.

At that point, you’d have two numbers.  Edward Pizzarello had 10 nights at Marriott properties last year and 45 nights at Starwood properties (not real numbers, but let’s go with it).  Now, someone needs to tell the computer that this customer is at the 50-night elite level.  Maybe that’s a complicated process.  Maybe there’s some opportunity for some fraud/mistakes if a manual upgrade process is in place.

But, isn’t it worth it to try putting something in place?

Marriott Breaking Starwood Preferred Guest
Hotel Danieli, Venice. One of My Favorite SPG Hotels
What About Lifetime Status?

Starwood Preferred Guest has a fairly rewarding lifetime status program.  Marriott’s top-tier status isn’t as rewarding and is harder to attend.  So far, Marriott has been dead silent on what will happen with SPG customers who have already earned lifetime status.  Marriott did roll out some improvements to their program that matched SPG. They appeared to do so begrudgingly.  Is that an indication of how Marriott will handle lifetime status?

Are There Any Current Indicators?

Have there been any instances recently that would point to Marriott’s intentions?  Not really.  Uber and SPG killed their partnership yesterday.  But, that could be as much an indication of Uber’s growth in other areas as it could be of a shift in Marriott’s strategy on partnerships.

I had something of a bad experience at a SPG property last week.  I tweeted about it and got a direct message from SPG telling me the property would follow up with me.  When the property hadn’t responded after a day or so, I replied back to SPG on Twitter letting them know I never heard back.  A week later, no reply from the hotel or SPG.  That’s a bit atypical from my normal SPG experience.

Earlier this year, Marriott rolled out their own version of SPG Moments with some pretty cool offers.  It was an example of Marriott mimicking the SPG way of doing things.

These are a few small examples in an otherwise big picture.  The problem is that there really aren’t any other indicators of what to expect in the future.

The Final Two Pennies

There are a number of ways I could have titled this post?  “What Does Marriott Plan For SPG?”  or “Is Marriott Preparing To Make SPG Better?”.  Maybe I’m revealing a bias by assuming silence and a few small downsides represent long-term negative outlook.  Some smart folks I know are still extolling the virtues of what SPG Platinum status can get you, betting that things will still be rosy in 2018.  I’m certainly open to being wrong here.  I just don’t see any clear indicators of improvement after a somewhat promising start.

It’s been a year.  I can’t help but ask, “What’s next?”

The post Is Marriott Breaking Starwood Preferred Guest? was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. Both systems/companies have been going downhill the past year or more and I have to agree with your doubting prognosis…. In this case, no news means bad news!

    1. We have had good luck with both systems over the years. I currently work for a company that has been working to meld two accounting systems and make us whole. It’s not been smooth despite Management’s claims to the contrary. This will take time and won’t be smooth no matter what promises are made. Stay loose for a while.

      1. Cecilia, I’ve stayed loose but I’d really like to know what to expect next year. Preferably before next year. I’m already booking rooms for 2018 when I don’t know what the loyalty program will look like.

  2. Actually, there is a way to link both Marriott rewards and SPG rewards and thereafter enjoy, if you have attained it, your elite status at either chain. Marriott has also announced what the conversion is for points between the two programs. Contact Marriott for details.

  3. Interesting article.. I have been a marriott member for many years and have earned elite status. I am also an SPG member. I am currently planning an event and am using hotel rooms and breakfast at the ” W ” in New York City.

    My questions are:

    Will I get more points using an SPG credit card vs just using my Marriott Card ? I do not currently have a SPG credit card but will apply for one if necessary.

    Will I get extra ( triple ) Marriott points by using my Marriott Credit Card like I do when staying in a Marriott hotel?

    What is the conversion rate to switch my SPG points to my Marriott points ?

  4. One of the best things about SPG was the friends and family discount program. When Marriott took over, the first thing they did was eviscerate that benefit. What once were unlimited nights with deep discounts, are now limited to two weeks per year (for the employee and their families combined) at ridiculous rates (often higher than on websites like Kayak and Expedia). Marriott has proven repeatedly that they care about neither their customers nor their employees.

  5. I’m lifetime Plat with Marriott, and for the most part, satisfied with the program. I’m now retired, but I still travel, albeit less. (32 nights this year). At Marriott, I typically continue to be treated like an elite guest. My admittedly limited experience with Starwood (5 nights) has been something less. I’m an optimist by nature, but couple this with cutbacks in CL offerings and devaluation of Marriott Rewards points, I’m not expecting much in the way of additional perks and benefits from the merger. (Aside from having more places to earn and use points.) That’s actually okay with me as long as they don’t start making cuts. I also find it something of an irritant that points need to be transferred to or from MR to SPG programs in blocks. What’s so complicated about simply multiplying or dividing by three?

    1. Bill, it’s one thing not to make changes until March, 2018. It’s another to not understand what those changes will be as we get close to the end of 2017. I’m making plans now for 2018 having no idea what the SPG program will look like. I believe it will still exist. But, if it’s closer to Marriott’s top-tier status, I wouldn’t recommend committing that many nights.

  6. We have been SPG elite status for a number of years and are still wondering the same things! Starwood swears nothing will change but, of course, everything can change. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak.

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