It’s been over a year since Marriott completed the takeover of Starwood hotels in September 2016. The merger also resulted in Marriott becoming the world’s largest hotel company, with over 5700 hotels in their portfolio, spread across 30 brands.
Not just that, it has now become India’s largest hotel company too. Marriott, along with Starwood & Ritz Carlton portfolios, has a total of 80 hotels operating in India now, along with 18000 rooms and on track to making it a 100 hotels soon.
A great thing that came out of the merger was the fact that Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest became interoperable and offered status match and points transfers opportunities from day one. Ajay accelerated his SPG Platinum status through the SPG Member Exclusives promotion and the result is that now he an SPG Platinum as well as a Marriott Rewards Platinum elite.
Now Marriott has been quite vocal about the idea of combining all the 3 loyalty programs into single one, though a program of this volume will take some time to fully integrate. Yesterday, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest both sent out an email with an update on what members can expect for 2018.
Here are the changes for 2018:
- Introducing Hertz Partnership – Starwood Preferred guests will be able to earn points with Hertz rentals next year onwards. Both Marriott and Starwood Platinums will get Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status which entitles members to complimentary car upgrades besides other benefits. Starwood Ambassador members (those who complete 100 nights every year) and Marriott Platinum Premiers will enjoy Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle status and benefits.
- Starpoints will not expire for Starwood lifetime elites members matching their status perk with Marriott.
- Marriott status buyback and rollover nights will end in 2018 – Therefore only 2017 nights earned in excess of status requirements will roll over to 2018. The excess nights in 2018 will no longer roll over to 2019 when the full integration of programs is expected. Also, Marriott Rewards has a nice feature where members can buy back their status for a certain number of points which will end this year. Ajay bought back his Marriott Rewards Gold status for 25000 points this year and we used the benefits of complimentary breakfast and lounge access at the Marriott London Parklane, JW Marriott in Bengaluru and at the JW Marriott Sahar in Mumbai.
For now, all the 3 loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG will continue to operate as separate programs and members will continue to have the ability to link accounts and transfer points. However, we still don’t have any idea on what the combined program in the future will look like.
Sometimes, no news is good news. This just means that we can continue to benefit from the benefits that both the programs offer separately. And that program merger should be a good one year away at least for now.
What are your thoughts about the 2018 changes to the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest program?