Marriott Hotels & Starwood Hotels will merge today, now that the final regulatory approval has been received. One of the best parts of the merger will be that you will be able to get benefits across the 3 reward programs that are operated by Marriott as of 23 September morning in the US of A, from day one. Here is what we know so far.
Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest will offer reciprocal status matches
You can right away start to match status across all the 3 programs on the plate. Here is how the status matches from one to the other. So, if you have high status on one program, it will be interoperable on the other programs as well (via a status match) as per the following chart.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards & Marriott Rewards are already aligned, so you are basically getting the opportunity to match your Starwood status with Marriott/Ritz-Carlton status to see whichever is the higher one, and win. This does not offer you the ability to combine your accounts yet and get to a bigger status counting your nights or points in both programs. That is envisioned for 2018.
Starwood Gold members benefit here, because this now allows them to access Marriott Rewards Gold Status which comes with free breakfast at many a properties, not an offering on their own program.
And while you are at it, you will also get the option to freely move your points between programs at the ratio of Marriott Rewards’/Ritz Carlton Rewards’ 3 points = 1 Starpoint. This is fair value I’d say and no one is being short-changed in this transfer.
You will be able to move around points amongst both the programs at whatever frequency you like, till the programs are integrated into one. For instance, you feel you are short some SPG Starpoints for a stay, you can transfer from your Marriott Rewards account and convert the equivalent number.
However, this interoperability via Status Matches & Points Transfer is only going to be valid till the time the companies figure out the best way forward to merge all the programs. Word via Gary @ View From The Wing is, Marriott is focusing on making a brand new program rather than merging all the programs together into Marriott Rewards and cherry picking features. That is what happens when you have a loyalty program that is better than your own I guess. This is not anticipated to happen before 2018.
The Status Match & Points Transfer is now live
Yes it is. Colour me impressed because on day one of the merger, the companies are putting their best foot forward, offering everyone the opportunity to be treated in a better fashion across all the hotels of the new merged entity. You just need to head to members.marriott.com to make it work and connect your accounts. While Status Matches are instantaneous, the transfer of points will take a few hours.
Still a lot of work to do, but with a headline announcement this big and in the favour of customers, I think Marriott is up for taking the concerns of their memberbase on board, and genuinely welcome them into the fold as they expand their footprint with the Starwood takeover. After all, customers moving business away from them due to concerns about loyalty beat the purpose of loyalty altogether, and here is one battle (hopefully) won for Marriott because now I guess they’d be looked at favourably by both sides of members (Marriott as well as Starwood)
What do you think of the interoperability of both these programs?