The new Marriott International loyalty program is launching August 1. Last week, we saw the broad strokes of how the program would look like from earning benefits and points perspective. But the award charts were tucked away to later. We do know how much would each category cost, but we don’t know which hotel will be slotted there.
We were reliably informed that the new award charts would be put out in the next 4-6 weeks as the chain had over 6500 hotels to put in place. Starwood hotels offer standard room availability on points very reliably, but that costs the program more, in how much they pay their hotels. Marriott works on a different formula, which is cheaper to the program. I guess they are also trying to find the middle point amongst the two as of now.
Here is what to expect come August 1, 2018.
As a rule of thumb, Marriott Rewards members will find their redemption pricing go up. Starwood members, on the other hand, will see the pricing of their redemptions go down. Since we don’t know which hotel goes into which category, we can’t really judge how good or bad is it going to be for us eventually. The first highlights of the new pricing, however, is out now. Marriott Rewards has showcased 5 leisure and world cities in this case.
There is more missing from these charts. Some of the incredible all-suite properties such as Al Maha in Dubai are missing. Also, we don’t know yet about how all-suite hotels would be handled. I mean, I just can’t imagine paying 40,000 SPG points for ITC Grand Bharat, which is an all-suites SPG Category 6 property. So we wait to see how Marriott would work with more hotels moving down the redemption charts as they promised.
What is worrying me although, is the new peak and off-peak pricing. Cat 5/6/7 in SPG have had variable point redemption values so that they have some leeway to charge more points when occupancy is high or expected to be high during that time. The value of using a fixed number of points goes away to being adapted to seasonality on a broader basis though. Although there are bookends at both sides, with off-peak being 20% lower and peak being 20% higher, till the day all hotels don’t get slotted into a proper box, we don’t know if there is going value addition or value erosion.
This is more a peek-a-boo, so I am still not able to create a fair picture of how things will work as of January 1, 2019. But I am appreciative of the fact that things are moving fast and more information is coming through all the time for members.
What do you think about the new opportunities from the merger of all loyalty programs into one? What are your pain points with the Merger? All Good? Or all Gloom & Doom?