It’s been an interesting few years for Marriott. Whether you love or hate Marriott, it would be hard to argue that it’s been all smooth sailing. There were parts of the SPG acquisition that went spectacular. Roughly three years ago, Marriott pleasantly surprised members with news that it was ahead of pace on linking loyalty accounts.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. There was good news on lifetime status, but only after fits and starts. There were negative changes on bookings through travel agents, even after Marriott said they wouldn’t make such a change. And, there was the implementation of peak and off-peak pricing.
Fast forward to present day. Things are much clearer with the new program. But, is it all sunshine and roses? It appears that may be the view Marriott has. CEO Arne Sorenson commented on this in the recent Marriott conference call. You can find a full transcript at Seeking Alpha. Here’s an excerpt of Sorenson’s opening remarks:
In a recent survey of Bonvoy members by an eight to one margin. Respondent said, they preferred the new Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program over either Marriott Rewards or SPG.
There were plenty of folks who really liked the Marriott program prior to the merger. I wasn’t one of them, but I met plenty. I also met plenty of people who loved the SPG program. I’d argue the ratio of people who liked SPG versus dislike was much higher than Marriott. At any rate, I haven’t heard nearly that amount of positive feedback about the new program. The most consistent comment I hear is that the program is fine or underwhelming. These aren’t my words, they’re yours. I’ve heard this from many of you via text, e-mail and social media. Yet, Marriott has a survey that says 90% of Bonvoy members surveyed prefer the new program over either Marriott Rewards or SPG. I’m honestly shocked by that math.
Let’s see if we end up with the same sort of math, take a moment and…..
The Final Two Pennies
On a separate humorous note, do you remember when Marriott grouped all those really awesome SPG luxury properties into the existing chart at integration, creating some unbelievable deals where the best hotels went down in the number of points needed to book? Well, Sorenson calls that out in the call as well. He notes that redemptions overall are up 20%. And, in a response to a question he notes:
I think some of the bookings that could have been made through the first part of 2019 probably not into the middle of 2019 allowed some of the highest category hotels to be — and this is not about peak/off-peak pricing, but it’s about the former highest category hotels. They were on sale a little bit based on the way the minutia of those formula work.
And I think you have some extraordinarily sophisticated folks who watch these loyalty programs and thought this is a good time to reserve some of those redemption stays for that kind of hotel. But I suspect, we will see pretty robust redemption activity as a steady state aspect of a loyalty program going forward.
There you have it. Marriott’s CEO thinks you guys are extraordinarily sophisticated folks. Good job!
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