Marriott launched its new loyalty program August 18, 2018 aligning the benefits of Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. All accounts were moved over from the Starwood platform to Marriott.
However they kept all 3 program names, even though there were no longer differences between the programs. This has to do with contractual obligations. For members all that was left to wait for was the new program name.
As a result it’s fairly anti-climactic that Marriott is announcing the new name and branding for their loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy. This change will happen February 13th.
- This is just a rebrand, there are no changes to benefits at this time.
- As leaked earlier, the names of the top two elite tiers will change. Platinum Premier Elite will become Titanium elite and Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador will become Ambassador Elite.
The elite tier name changes better distinguish Platinum tiers and make clear that ‘mere’ 50 night Platinum is only mid-tier. This is a shift away from Starwood’s strategy to say that Platinum was top tier, and that there were just additional benefits for staying more than 25 times or 50 nights.
Marriott continues the corporate trend of rebranding with intentionally vague names. What exactly is Bonvoy?
- It sounds like bon voyage or good wishes for a journey.
- Marriott’s Chief Commercial Officer Stephanie Linnartz says it “represents more than a loyalty program…providing endless inspiration for members to keep traveling and pursuing their passions.”
The claim to being ‘more than a loyalty program’ suggests they’ve been drinking whatever’s in Hyatt’s water. Meanwhile frustrated members are already calling the program Bonfire.
The rebrand comes at a time when the program has struggled to deliver benefits or a consistent experience to consumers, problems that Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson calls “noise around the edges”.
Marriott had one of the biggest data hacks in history, they’ve had ongoing IT problems delivering member benefits and even getting accounts merged correctly, and members are frustrated with the program. So what are they gonna do? Just like Stringer Bell in The Wire they’re changing the name of the product.
They’ve been putting tremendous effort into this rebranding, but apparently couldn’t do better than this new name. The time and investment comes when their clear focus needs to be on IT. Instead they’re investing in rolling out a “logo and branding…across all consumer touch-points, including on property, marketing and sales channels, digital, mobile and co-brand credit cards bolstered by a multi-million-dollar global media campaign starting in late February.”
The multi-million dollar campaign should have focused on making the basics of the program work.