How has Marriott been handling the integration of the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs?
Thanks for the A2A, in fact this is a good time to revisit my response of the initial announcement to acquire Starwood by Marriott (Noelle White's answer to What does the Marriott purchase of Starwood mean for the Starwood Preferred Guest program?). Time flies, it is nearly 3 years as the majority of integration has now been completed.With some insider knowledge, hopefully my response is a bit more informative and eye opening for those who are interested. Unfortunately, this is going to be more negative than intended.As of now, 15th September 2022. Marriott is still working out the kinks and integration challenges, for example had you stayed in any of the Marriott (this includes all Starwood properties), you may have an inaccurate activity statement of the actual nights, points, award status, upcoming reservations, past reservations, etc.There is no given statement on when this issue will be fixed, so if you are a tat short on points for something you are planning on using it for, you may have to call up to “escalate” for a solution in the mean time.SPG members were given a one-time 3X total point uplift in August 2022. apologies but this means it will also cost 3X more points to redeem anything you plan, there really is no free lunch and this is just a meaningless exercise for SPG members.Starwood had a more advanced reservation system before they were acquired which Marriott chose not to use, this has resulted in Starwood properties having to re-learn a more ancient reservation system, again resulting in loss or incorrect set of data on the most important information pertaining to guests details (Loyalty Importance, Stay Preferences) or worst (Lost, Unknown Bookings).Diluting the importance of the benefits of SPG program, this will come and is already happening. The recognition program will switch towards Marriott way of running loyalty which is entirely different to Starwood, expect to see less recognition overall, paying more (cash + points) for less, more restrictions with less flexibility, less benefits with the introduction of more tiers compared to SPG program.Come 2022. SPG will cease to exist entirely. There will be a consolidated loyalty program along the lines of Marriott something, you can also prepare to kiss goodbye to the great SPG mobile apps and SPG.com websites.Sure, I admit you do get access to significantly more properties than ever before across all budget and hotel categories. But were you complaining before the acquisition?Personally for me, nope. Lesser is more, quality over quantity. I loved the Starwood offerings of St Regis, W and Westin. More importantly the loyalty patronage that came with being a decade long SPG member.I had positive hopes from Marriott acquisition nearly 3 years ago, unfortunately as with everything, “Shareholder Value” is the most important corporate metric to Wall Street.With that, out goes the recognition of loyalty, along with the dismantling of what was a well-greased, well-ran Starwood program under the pretence statement of driving improvements and giving loyal guests more in return.No thanks, I would take the old Starwood Preferred Guest program any day and twice on Sunday.