My post on the new Marriott program includes a lot of detail you don’t find anywhere else, and that I haven’t seen picked up anywhere else. That’s probably precisely because there’s so much packed in there, and I didn’t highlight all of the color with its own headlines or other emphasis.
Starwood has been strong with elite benefits, with its credit card relationship, but weak rewarding in-hotel spend. Marriott was strong rewarding in-hotel spend but weak everywhere else. The new program takes much of Starwood’s recognition program, but not quite all of it. And it attaches that to something closer to the Marriott rewards program, but not as rich.
Together I think it makes for the best large hotel loyalty program, but member unhappiness comes both from the points devaluation relative to Marriott and the tougher qualification requirements for status (including lifetime status) relative to Starwood.
Westin Stonebriar Chairman’s Suite Balcony
Of course we do not yet know all of the details.
- They haven’t released the list of which hotels fall into which redemption categories.
- They haven’t released the program terms and conditions.
- And we haven’t seen how hotels behave in practice.
Over time Marriott hotel award availability should get better, as they eventually move to a Starwood model where all standard rooms are available for points redemption by rule. But how will hotels handle suites?
I agree with One Mile at a Time, and have written in the past, that Starwood was the strongest chain enforcing rules compliance across hotels and fining properties who misbehaved. I suspect that the Marriott program won’t be as strong at enforcement, even though the chain is known for its uniformity in service delivery. So what will that mean for suite upgrades?
We won’t really know until hotels are supposed to have to upgrade Platinums to available suites, instead of just being allowed or even encouraged to do so.
Presidential Suite, Sheraton San Diego Marina
In addition to any requirements in place at Marriott, though, they also have a new incentive system in place for hotels. As I wrote in my initial post on the new program,
In order to drive hotel compliance with all of these benefits that are new for Marriott properties one executive tells me “elite satisfaction is a measurement that all hotels are compensated on this year” and that’s something new.
Satisfaction surveys are going to matter, especially for elites. Take the surveys don’t ignore them.
Tell your friends who are elite members of the Marriott program. Tell other blogs you read to publicize this as well. Reward hotels that deliver elite benefits with great survey marks and at the same time mark down hotels dramatically that do not.