For months now, travelers have been anxiously awaiting what will be the outcome of the Starwood Hotels – Marriott Merger, and what it will mean for elite status holders. And voilà – here it is: SPG and Marriott Rewards have successfully linked their programs and offer members of both programs reciprocal benefits, a status match to the highest level and the possibility to transfer points between programs. Sweet deal, I would say!
But let’s look at the details. Both programs have promised their member mutual recognition of their status, and that means that a Gold member of SPG gets Gold membership in Marriott Rewards, or vice versa. Same goes for Platinum. The only thing a member needs to do is to log in to their respective program website (SPG or Marriott Rewards) and connect the two programs via a newly created linking system. It is really easy and just needs a few clicks – and if you’re not a member in the other program yet, it will be the best time to create an account and enjoy elite status benefits on that one, too!
The “fine print” reads pretty fair and it seems members of both programs get a really good deal here. Some restrictions apply to the cross-collection of points: Starwood hotels can only accrue points for SPG, and Marriott brands only give nights and points for the Marriott rewards programme. But the benefits are given regardlessly. For the time being, a member will still need to collect nights or stays in one of these programs to maintain their status, and nights or stays collected in the other will not help in this. It’s a small drawback but we guess all will be solved in 2018 when the two programs are expected to fully merge – probably into something entirely new.
The move Marriott and Starwood have done here is smart – they have given a huge extra to their respective elite customers. At least some of the fears of SPG elite members should be alleviated for the time being. The move is typically Starwood though – totally customer focused and exciting.
We will stay very excited to see the developments the two programs will take in the near future until 2018, when a new loyalty programme will unite the two existing.