Marriott Bonvoy makes the first move to launching a co-branded credit card in India

Launching a hotel co-branded credit card in India has been a much-wanted on the wishlist of various frequent travellers, who bring home their experiences from other markets and would like to have a co-branded card here as well. However, for card companies, they are still not open to the concept of launching a hotel co-branded credit card. This is based on my discussion with a couple of people pretty high up the ladder in the loyalty business in India working with hospitality companies. As per them, various RFPs have been done with banks over the years, but nothing to fruition.

Having said that, it seems that we might now be able to see the first hospitality company in India, and the largest one in the world actually, finally make a move to launch a co-branded credit card in India to put its loyalty programme in the hands of more people. Marriott has put out a new opening for its’ South Asia office (based in India), hiring for a Manager – Cards and Partnerships, India.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card India

Till so far, very few markets have attracted the attention of Marriott to be able to offer a co-brand partnership. These include the USA where Marriott is co-brand partners with Chase and American Express both (Amex was SPG’s partner and Chase was Marriott Rewards partner pre-Marriott Bonvoy), United Arab Emirates has Emirates NBD, and American Express in the UK are some of the partner banks for Marriott Bonvoy.

As you can see, Marriott Bonvoy has big plans for India. For one, their 3-year partnership with Mumbai Indians as Loyalty Partner is an instance of how they want to spend money to raise the profile of the Marriott Bonvoy programme in India and attract more members to the programme. This is not the first brush of Marriott with Cricket, and back in the day Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest have both sponsored IPL teams earlier on as well.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card India plans

There are some great insights into Marriott’s plans for India with this posting:

  • Marriott intends to get bigtime into Co-brand cards and points transfer partnerships into India, and launch products into the market shortly.
  • Manage existing relationships with Chase, American Express & other global partnerships
  • Develop new partnership models with airlines in the market to drive profitability
  • End to end responsibility of launching a new airline partnership in the region
  • Manage all tactical marketing opportunities with respective banks Travel Marketplace & Marriott Redemption
  • Support global travel marketplace strategy
  • Develop local redemption options for Marriott Bonvoy members in the market
  • Localize Marriott International’s award-winning loyalty program(s) through innovation partnerships, breakthrough communication strategy & activation

Obviously, with over 120 hotels in the Indian market and many more in the pipeline, Marriott has determined this is the right time to engage with the Indian customers and become a dominant loyalty programme in India. Remember, the only dominant programme in India before this was JetPrivilege, which had spun its web with over 150 partnerships, including over 20 airlines and many bank partners. With everything going in the Indian marketplace and the lack of a loyalty programme with a strong share of voice, Marriott Bonvoy might have sensed the opportunity to take the space.

This is a clear insight into Marriott’s plans for India. High visibility, and positioning Marriott as an excellent opportunity for earning and burning points to be used for free stays in India. Co-brand cards are one high visibility way, as these allow non-frequent guests also to earn points and miles through daily use of the card and hence engage with the programme on a day to day basis. So, the Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card India then, is a go!

Who could be Marriott’s potential partners in India?

Err, everyone I guess? It is not clear so far that Amex and Marriott might be exclusive in India, but there is a high probability of them having cooperation in India. Not just that, there could be partnerships with one or many banks for transfer partnerships. HDFC Bank and Yes Bank come top of mind to be on such a platform. Marriott could potentially try and bring Club Vistara on their partnerships platform where 3 Bonvoy Points = 1 Club Vistara would become a reality.

Bottomline

Marriott is putting its weight behind financial products in India, which might mean free nights may get faster soon.

What do you make of Marriott Bonvoy’s intention to launch co-brand cards in India? Which bank are you rooting for to be partners for Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card India?


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