Marriott Bonvoy Launched Today, Replacing Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest

Marriott has officially launched a new name for its loyalty program today. There’s no more Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest. There’s now only Bonvoy.

  • We knew what Rewards meant. That’s all about earn and burn.

  • Preferred Guest was all about how a loyal member is treated.

  • Bonvoy literally has no meaning. It is not a word.

  • Yet Marriott has spent untold millions coming up with it, market-testing it, and producing materials.

  • When they have underinvested in actually getting the program to work right, and when they could have just not planned to charge members more for award nights (and increasing top pricing again later in the year).

Here’s Marriott’s announcement. Literally nothing changes besides names — the name of the program, and the names of the top two elite tiers (75 night Platinum becomes Titanium and 100 night Platinum becomes Ambassador Elite), the names of the co-brand cards. And, of course, Chase becomes the exclusive issuer of mass market consumer cards, and American Express of business and premium consumer cards for the program.

With Bonvoy Marriott claims to have literally created their own language for travel. Kind of like Esperanto. I wonder if anyone will speak it?

Joe Brancatelli suggests Klingon. More people actually speak Klingon, though. Either way they could kill two birds with one stone, fight online travel agencies and promote Bonvoy by hiring William Shatner to represent the rebrand. (SideStep once had Patrick Stewart as its spokesperson.)

Unfortunately they haven’t provided a translation guide on their website, but I’ve started working on one. Given their IT challenges here’s what I’ve started with:

Many Marriotts will have complimentary cocktail parties to celebrate Bonvoy, which I guess is like toasting the end of something great. We’ll see 9-to-1 increases against decreases when hotels change award categories March 5, and then later we’ll see the introduction of low season pricing. As a result the most expensive Marriott redemption will go from 60,000 points per night March 4 to 100,000 points per night at some point this year when Marriott figures out the IT.

If I had been running the program I’d have simply called it Marriott Rewards, or if I felt the need to rebrand to represent the end of the Starwood Preferred Guest program I’d have called it either Marriott Preferred Guest — or reverted to Marriott Honored Guest, the original name of the chain’s loyalty program.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Sad. The end of an era. Can you refer me to post(s) about what new card/s I should consider replacing the SPG with?

  2. I don’t think Marriott Preferred Guest makes sense as although that doesn’t sound bad in itself the acronym MPG does not sound enticing for a hotel chain. MPG I think Miles Per Gallon.

  3. How about they take some of that investment and have proper agents and personalities in the call centers the way SPG did?
    A dedicated phone for program assistance missing stays points etc
    A guest satisfaction dept for guest relations
    Instead of 30 minute to 3 hour hold times with condescending impatient miserable agents who hate their jobs (quite a large number)

    How about managing wtf you have before implementing bird brained ideas that mean essentially nothing except stroke the egoes of management that think they know what their doing by launching gobbledygook initiatives
    How about surveying members before making these as$$in## changes to see how the membership perceives them
    I’m willing to go Hilton where possible even giving up my late check out just to spite their poor management capabilities
    Signed noise around the edges lifetime Titanium

  4. Marriott…Bonvoy…whatever is a mess. First the major data breach and then this? So much for “rewards.” Thank goodness I channeled last year’s travel to Hilton!

  5. I am continually amazed at Companies, Websites, etc. that think fixing something that is not broken is a good idea.
    Maybe Hyatt will welcome me?

  6. Hey, I hope Marriott keeps right on track. Sure, I can’t log in to the website without calling up every single time to have them “reset” something. Yeah, the call center must be the last bastion of slavery based on the enthusiasm of its inmates. And, true, they gave all my personal info to every identity thief in the world.

    But, on the positive side, their IT is so bad that sometime last year I ended up a Platinum Premier despite staying with Marriott less than 20 nights. And I note that I’m now a Titanium member of the “Good Jour…” program.

    I need to stay at an airport Sheraton tonight so, yes, I expect to be annoyed at check-in as usual – but I’ll be getting free hor deourves and a free breakfast that I didn’t earn! It all evens out in the end. 😀

  7. It’s a real stretch to get ‘bon voyage’ from Bonvoy. Plus isnt’ that telling your guests goodbye before they even get to you?

  8. I run a Brand Consultancy. While Marriott, nor Starwood, are clients I may be able to shed a little light on the logic behind the name change.

    Branding is about managing expectations. Here are a few ways the new name is likely trying to capitalize on that.

    1) The degree of change in Brand Identity (think name, logo, colors, etc…) lets the members know the degree of change to expect in the program. A name change tells members to expect significant change. This may also mitigate risk if those changes turn out to be less than anticipated (Keep in mind, anyone who reads blogs such as View From The Wing, is far more likely to be affected by these changes).

    2) While you may not like the name Bonvoy (derived from bon voyage) it does check all the boxes from a usability point of view. This is far more difficult than most people think especially as this is an international program which is complicated by language (slang, pronunciation, etc…), trademark issues (fabricated names are far easier to trademark and provide greater legal protections), social media handles, the list goes on.

    3) There are likely legal reasons for changing the name such as liabilities related to facets of the old program (web pages, brochures, etc…) still in circulation and local laws that govern such programs. Technically, they haven’t just renamed the programs. Legally this may be a new program.

    4) The differences between the programs are easier to manage under a new name as the new name provides a more natural way to communicate differences in the programs. For example, When a representative is explaining why something is no longer true, they can respond “Under the new Bonvoy program…”

    The biggest question you have to ask is; “Are you upset with the name or the terms of the program?” For me, it’s the latter. They could call the program Kevin; it wouldn’t repair the devaluations.

  9. They STILL haven’t fixed my status which infuriates me. I was a SPG Lifetime Platinum. I’ve called, written & tweeted. No one can figure out why it doesn’t show up. As far as I’m concerned, Marriott lied. And Bonvoy is a joke.

  10. Marriott rolled out Bonvoy before it was ready. The Rewards Plus benefit, which allows top Marriott elite tiers to link Marriott and United Airlines MileagePlus accounts in order to take advantage of the UA MP status upgrade, no longer works. This is terrible timing, as the UA MP status upgrade expires every February 1st and has to be re-applied for.

  11. Having previously worked for the agency that developed and ran SPG and now BonVoy, the issues around technology is that Starwood was state of the art (or close to it) and Marriott is still using binary. Many of the SPG programs couldn’t transfer to the Marriott system so they were either eliminated or are being re-built to work with their 70’s era technology (and that’s early 70’s).

    The agency did do a ton of work on the name with Marriott, but still don’t like it, seems incomplete, appropriate for the program as it stands today. Hopefully after consolidation is complete, it will be easier to fix the reward and loyalty history issues verses it be scattered across three different systems. Time will tell. I hope the program is a success for my friends who still work at the agency, but I still don’t like the name.

  12. Marriott Honored Guest implies that the guest is honored, which is obviously not the case with Marriott currently, and will be even less the case in the future. Marriott prefers to view customers with disdain. Good call by Marriott not to use this name again.

  13. Another WOH in the making. I somehow lost 3 Suite upgrades in the process surely will get them back, I value “Titanium” as I did “Globalist” with equal distain. But then I am of the older generation of travelers enjoying my LFT T status, I hope

  14. @ghostrider – Globalist is far better than Titanium in my experience. I just completed a 4 week trip, with 2 Hyatt stays and 2 Marriott stays as parts of the trip. Hyatt upgraded me to a suite 2/2 times, Marriott 0/2 times even with SNA’s. I fervently wish that Marriott was better than they are, but that hasn’t been the case for me. Either way, I sure wish you the best to enjoy your lifetime status. As to the generational aspect, I’ve still flown Pan Am more than any other airline, so I hear you.

  15. Checked into a Marriott today and they did not know the program started until I showed them the change in the app. Plus when I said “Titanium” I was given very quizzical looks. I have asked at other properties and they had not been briefed on the new program. They will get there.

  16. Couple things….

    1) Most properties especially franchised / 3rd party managed properties have not yet received the Convoy tier differentiation training. Checked into a property today and they too had no idea what was going on. I asked about a suite upgrade (I’m Ambassador Elite) and they said the suite upgrades are reserved for the highest level tier only – duh. When I showed them my profile pin the app they said they were unfamiliar …I asked again for the upgrade and they said their hands are tied because of Marriott Corporate Rooms Control ??? So I asked for the manager on Duty and very politely explained the situation and lo and behold – Ambassador level benefits appeared. Sadly, the manager didn’t even explain the situation to the front desk agent.

    2) Why do you call it simply BONVOY ? It’s Marriott Bonvoy – and believe me they are emphasizing the Marriott name !

    3) Was told the SPG app would deactivate – which it did last night. Was told to download the Marriott App a few weeks ago and that it would automatically update to Bonvoy today – it did not. I had to reinstall Marriott Bonvoy from the App Store. What’s more, as of this am 2/13, I couldn’t find Bonvoy in the App Store – I had to link to it from the message on the Marriott International App….ugh.

  17. So I’ve been SPG Ambassador for 4 years – after Aug 2018 “merger” – lost my Ambassador name & contact info on the app and desktop/website versions. Was told this would be rectified on 2/13 – still nada. Curious if any other Ambassador level members have this same problem…..?
    (Luckily I had my Ambassador’s contact info saved)

  18. Have had SPG Ambassador for 4 years – after Aug 2018 “merger” – lost my Ambassador name & contact info on the app as well as the desktop/website versions. I was informed that this would be rectified on 2/13 – still nada.

    Curious if any other Ambassador level members (especially legacy SPG Ambassador Level members) have also lost the contact info for their Ambassador? How is this a special service when they don’t list the contact info for your dedicated Ambassador ?

    Luckily I saved my Ambassador contact info…but still….come on Marriott !

  19. Have had SPG Ambassador for 4 years – after Aug 2018 “merger” – lost my Ambassador name & contact info on the app as well as the desktop/website versions. I was informed that this would be rectified on 2/13 – still nada.

    Curious if any other Ambassador level members (especially legacy SPG Ambassador Level members) have also lost the contact info for their Ambassador? How is this a special service when they don’t list the contact info for your dedicated Ambassador ?

    Luckily I saved my Ambassador contact info…but still….come on Marriott !

  20. Checked into a Residence Inn tonight and they were having a big reception. Big buzz, new room keys. Bam! I will be patient with them but may likely head back to IHG. We shall see….

  21. Well overnight, while I was asleep, they cancelled a whole 5 night reservation for me starting this weekend. Great when you are crossing the Pacific – and kind of really want a hotel to stay in when you arrive, jet lagged. The hotel itself still has the reservation, correctly, which is good – but the “Bonvoy” App and Marriott in the US think it is cancelled. Makes you not feel real comfortable at the start of a trip. Certainly not a BonVoyage type message.

  22. I have one answer! AirBnB. We went to Rome and Venice and instead of sitting in a Marriott watching CNN international we enjoyed the cultural aspects while getting an entire lavishly appointed apartment (not shared) for under $200.00 per night next to Piazza Novana and Saint Mark’s Square. That’s the real reason Marriott cannot afford to provide incentives, there isn’t any more margin in business travel due to the lack of appetite for business waste.

  23. Gary, you are correct. Bonvoy literally has no meaning. It is not a word.

    However, “Bonvoyed” apparently means, “I’ve been f*cked” as in “I’ve been Bonvoyed.” Many of the reader comments on this blog from fellow road warriors have expressed their displeasure of being bonvoyed. The website http://www.bonyoved.com has many additional examples of Marriott guests being bonvoyed.

    This month, I was bonvoyed when the hotel business center had no internet for over two weeks.

  24. Bonvoy is bougie for “bon voyage” which means good travel. The whole marketing of the concept tells you how bougie it is especially for their credit card which is $450/year!

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