Here’s How Marriott Could Make SPG Members (Relatively) Happy

With the Marriott takeover of Starwood now a sure thing, the realization is soon setting in for SPG members that our beloved program will eventually go away. When you look at member impressions of the merger, the general sentiment is that Marriott Rewards members are quite excited about it (“we’ll be able to redeem points at cool Starwood hotels soon, and might even pick up some elite benefits”), while Starwood Preferred Guest members are dreading it (“SPG is special precisely because they’re not Marriott or Hilton or IHG, so like every other merger up until now, things will get worse”).

Merger

While Starwood Preferred Guest isn’t supposed to be merged into Marriott Rewards until 2018, I was really pleasantly surprised when Marriott introduced some new benefits earlier in the week, including late check-out, an experiences marketplace, and testing a concierge service for their loyalest members.

Marriott-Benefits

Unfortunately Marriott screwed up the execution, and reinforced many of the concerns SPG members had about the merger. As it turned out, the late check-out benefit was worded as follows: “guaranteed late checkout, which could be as late as 4pm.” That’s absolute bull, because that means a hotel would be following the terms in offering an 11:30AM check-out when the check-out time is 11AM.

After quite a bit of customer feedback I’m thrilled that Marriott introduced a real guaranteed 4PM check-out at all their hotels, except resorts and convention hotels (this is the same benefit which Hyatt and Starwood have).

To me, guaranteed late check-out was one of the big competitive advantages which SPG Platinum had over Marriott Platinum. Since we’ve seemingly been steering Marriott in the right direction, I figured I’d share the three things that Marriott Rewards could do to make this SPG loyalist happy (or at least as happy as possible).

Marriott should add complimentary elite breakfast at resorts

Here’s the Marriott Platinum breakfast benefit:

Daily continental breakfast, light snacks and beverages for members and one guest in the Executive Lounge at JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance® and Marriott Hotels®, Delta Hotels® (limited participation), (resorts excluded).

In the U.S. and Canada, select hotels will provide 750 or 1,000 points in lieu of breakfast in the event the lounge is closed.

At JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance Hotels® and Marriott Hotels®, Delta Hotels® (limited participation) (Resorts, Courtyard Hotels, EDITION® Hotels and AC Hotels are excluded).

I know Marriott has a lot of brands, but this is the perfect example of what drives me crazy about them. I wish they’d just have a single policy rather than so many exclusions and limited participation.

But the worst part of Marriott’s breakfast benefit is that elite members don’t receive breakfast at resorts. This is so silly and backwards. A lot of business travelers can expense meals when they’re on the road for work, and then the reward for all their time traveling for work is a vacation with their loved ones… and that’s where they’re having to pay for breakfast.

I’ve never seen an explanation for this policy, but it’s ridiculous, and needs to change.

St-Regis-Bali-Resort - 27
Breakfast at the St. Regis Bali

Marriott should do something about suite upgrades

Marriott takes the same approach to top tier suite upgrades that Hilton does. Here are Marriott’s terms:

Complimentary Room Upgrade: Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member’s personal guestroom. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites.  All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis, as determined at the time of check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability and identified by each hotel. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club.

As a point of comparison, here are Starwood’s terms:

Platinum members: Platinum members receive upgrades to the best available rooms, including Standard Suites, subject to availability for the entire length of stay at time of check-in. Not offered at Aloft® or Elementhotels.

Marriott simply says that Platinum members receive a complimentary upgrade subject to availability, which could include something like a room with a desirable view, a room on a high floor, a suite, etc.

Marriott isn’t saying that you’ll get a suite if it’s available, but rather that at the hotel’s discretion they can upgrade you.

Meanwhile Starwood promises the best available room subject to availability, including standard suites.

The distinction is that with Starwood you’re entitled to the suite if it’s available, while a Marriott hotel could have two dozen open suites, but not upgrade a Platinum member, and still be within the terms.

On top of that, Starwood gives Platinum members who earn at least 50 elite qualifying nights 10 suite night awards, each of which can be used to confirm a suite upgrade as early as five days out, pending availability.

Here’s the thing — I’m not actually suggesting that Marriott should entirely adopt Starwood’s system. I’m just saying that they should change their current system. I hate a loyalty program “promising” a benefit which is entirely at the discretion of the hotel.

Marriott’s suite upgrade policy is no different than what they tried to get away with for their late check-out policy. “We’ll offer you late check-out, subject to availability, as late as 4PM if the hotel feels like it.” A hotel could be completely empty and they’d still be within their rights to deny you a 4PM check-out. It’s the same with suites.

I’d like to see Marriott promise something, whatever is. Either offer unlimited suite upgrades subject to availability, or even eliminate the verbiage saying members may be upgraded to suites, and instead add some sort of confirmed suite upgrades.

Basically, don’t make us be like our favorite Hilton HHonors fanboy who shows up at the front desk with a laminated card with the terms of the program, which he’s incorrectly interpreting. 😉

W-Taipei
Suite at the W Taipei

Marriott should convert lifetime status fairly

Both Marriott and Starwood offer lifetime status. Lifetime status is based on the lifetime of the loyalty program rather than a member’s lifetime. Given the rate of consolidation, you have to wonder how much that’s worth nowadays.

The requirements for Marriott lifetime status are as follows:

  • Lifetime Silver Elite: 250 nights + 1.2 million points
  • Lifetime Gold Elite: 500 nights + 1.6 million points
  • Lifetime Platinum Elite: 750 nights + 2.0 million points

Marriott-Lifetime-Status

Meanwhile the requirements for Starwood lifetime status are as follows:

  • Lifetime Gold: 250 nights + 5 years of elite status
  • Lifetime Platinum: 500 nights + 10 years of elite status

I don’t envy the role the programs have in converting this lifetime status, or for that matter, in converting Starpoints into Marriott Rewards points.

But if they’re going to keep the same benefits, converting Starwood Gold (which gets guaranteed late check-out, a 50% points bonus, and a further perk with every stay) to Marriott Silver (which gets you basically nothing) wouldn’t be fair. Yes, matching that to Marriott Gold would be generous, but that still seems more reasonable than Silver.

Bottom line

This is the first time we’ve seen a hotel merger of this scale, where the programs are both popular with their respective members. If we thought combining airline programs was complicated back when the major US mergers happen, this is infinitely more complicated, given how different the programs are.

The above are three things which I hope Marriott takes to heart. Of course I also hope that Starpoints will convert into Marriott Rewards points at a fair rate, and that a decent option for airline mileage transfers will stick around after the merger.

What changes would you most like to see from Marriott Rewards with the integration of SPG?

Comments

  1. While I support this view, I highly doubt Marriott would implement most of these wishes.

    Some of their MR policies are definitely puzzling though for a brand that prides itself on consistency.

  2. Some of what you say applies to me but in truth, very little – and I’ll bet I’m typical of, if not your readers, then most SPG members.

    1. Ritz Central Park is 70,000 points per night. St Regis NY is 30,000 per night. I get the overwhelming majority of my points through credit card spend. They will be pricing me out of the vacations I covet. We’ve gone to the St Regis Bahia Beach for four years in a row with some family. If it becomes 280,000 points for five nights, ain’t gonna happen.

    2. I work very hard to get to 25 stays to retain my SPG Platinum status. I’ve done so for about 10 years. I’m not a road warrior. The number of stays Marriott wants for top tier status, no matter what the perks, are beyond many of us who are not business travelers but rather leisure ones.

    You folks who spend 100 night a year or more on the road deserve everything you earn. As a leisure traveler who has had an absolutely amazing 10 years, most in suites and in fabulous places around the world, I guess all I can say is that it’s been a great ride. I see no rational way I can make top tier Marriott.

  3. @Steven S You have to remember that 1 Marriot Point shouldn’t equal 1 Starpoint. Even if Marriott converts points at the rate of 2 Mariott points for 1 Starpoint, 30k Starpoints becomes 60k Mariott Points, which isnt far off from 70k. Furthermore, I think Marriott’s program awards more points per dollar than SPG does. It’s not something I’d actively worry about, including elite status requirements, until we hear more

  4. I think you’re saying Hyatt and Starwood have guaranteed late check out except at resorts and convention hotels, but your wording makes it seem as if all Hyatt elites get 4pm. Unfortunately, Hyatt Platinum only gets you a 2pm late check out while SPG Gold gives 4pm.

  5. While breakfast at resorts is one thing, it truly blows my mind that courtyards do not offer free breakfast to Plt members. That and no free water are my biggest issues with the Marriott program. As a road warrior who is on per diem, free breakfast and free water that honors and Spg provide add up to range able savings

  6. For me, the most important parts of the SPG program are the airline transfers and suite availability, with breakfasts decidedly in 3rd place. Late checkouts are ok, but it’s not always easy to take advantage of them.

  7. @David W not if he get most of your points from regular credit card spend like he said. Marriott’s CC only gives you 1 point per dollar so he would need to spend 70k for that room instead of 30k with the SPG card. They need to change their earn to 2 pts per dollar if they want to keep the massive credit card spend Amex gets with the SPG cards. No one is going to use a Marriott card outside of hotel stays.

  8. What I want to know is will Marriott carry over SPG member’s lifetime status nights towards the merged program? Many people including myself have banked hundreds of nights and I wouldn’t want to start from zero! Will they allow current members of both programs to merge lifetime nights?

    The whole late check-out announcement was a very serious blunder on Marriott’s part especially knowing SPG members are watching them like hawks! I’m happy they quickly set the record straight.

    Marriott would be wise to increase the earning rate on their credit card outside Marriott hotels I don’t use it because most other cards give you a much better return including the Amex SPG card.

    Marriott is going to have to WOW members with new and innovative benefits because right now all their “enhancements” over the last few years is playing catch-up with Starwood and Hyatt and it’s not news.

  9. I don’t get why this is complicated for Marriott.

    Keep the chains separate, match status, match the superior benefits.

    Round up to the nearest status in a gesture of goodwill if the stays/nights don’t align perfectly.

    If they really have to then accept both Starwood points and Marriott points (whatever they are called) at both chains scaled to value for each category.

    For example:

    Category X SPG hotel equals X number of Marriott points or X number of Starwood points.

    Category X Marriott hotel equals X number of Starwood points or X number of Marriott points.

    Incentivize members of both programs to use the other program through a fairly scaled points system

    Those low level Marriott hotels should be scaled for stay and night credits if it’s such an issue.

  10. @Dave

    That is a frustrating situation that dissuades me from the Courtyard chains even as a lifetime Plat Elite member. I have debated the issue with Courtyard management before from the point of view of principle (not that it costs a lot although I can have a superior bfast with that price at any independent establishment) and many times have been offered the free breakfast – but their loyal customers really shouldn’t have to. On the other hand, I rarely stay at the Courtyards and find the management to be very accommodating at their premium chains.

  11. I’m a lifetime marriott platinum and a lifetime SPG gold. I stopped staying at SPG properties at the end of last year, as the only reason I was doing it was to get progress toward lifetime platinum. I made the hopefully reasonable assumption that Lifetime Platinum marriott would get Lifetime SPG Plat. Fingers crossed! (i.e. conversion going the other way)

  12. I don’t understand your priorities – you think nothing of spending a lot of money on frivolous expenses, higher end hotel rooms or expensive tickets, but then complain about breakfast? Just go to a nice cafe when you’re exploring the new town (if you actually do end up exploring the town instead of staying in a hotel having hotel experiences only).

    Hotel breakfasts and lounges are a seriously bad thing to have on vacation because it actively reduces the time spent on local experiences.

  13. There is a reason SPG members, especially elites, are so loyal to Starwood: Starwood guarantees benefits that make the stays worthwhile when compared to the competition.

    Marriott benefits don’t come close…which is why Marriott elites are more willing to stay elsewhere.

    It’s very simple for Marriott: continue to match many of the guaranteed benefits for SPG to the current MR program in anticipation of the new merged program that’s coming. Guaranteed 4 pm check out is fantastic for Golds and Platinums. For Platinums, free breakfast is a no-brainier at chains that have that capability. For Platinums, comp’d standard suite upgrades are also a no-brainer at chains that have that capability. Whether Marriott wants to mimic Starwood’s SNAs or Hyatt’s DSUs, Marrriott would do well to offer one or the other (probably the SNAs since it keeps all SPG Plat members happy while making all MR Plat members even happier for the new benefit.

    ALL of those will inevitably come with higher threshold requirements for earning Gold or Plarinum status in the eventual merged program. SPG members used to earning Gold with 25 stays might be disappointed with a new requirement for 35-40 stays, but with so many more properties from which to choose this seems a fairer threshold. SPG members used to earning Platinim with 50 stays might be disappointed with a new requirement for 60-75 stays, but again there will be so many more properties from which to choose. That then permits Marriott to create its Ambassador/Concierge level at 100 nights for its best Platinum elites.

    Marriott also will need to include Ritz Carlton into the fold of the newly merged program. If Marriott learns anything from SPG, it is also that St. Regis benefitted from its affiliation. Ritz Carlton can learn the same lesson. Having St. Regis and Luxury Collection in the same umbrella was aspirational for all SPG elites and members and ENCOURAGED further loyalty. Having Ritz Carlton in the same umbrella will be just as aspirational for both MR and SPG elites and regular members.

    Marriott easily can earn the trust and loyalty of SPG elites…and improve its trust and loyalty among its own MR elites. By giving more by encouraging more stays and more nights with the merged company, Marriott will have earn d the best loyalty in the industry.

    As SPG 100+ night Ambasaador level here, I can say that St. Regis and Luxury Collecrion (as well as W) have had much stronger interest and loyalty from me for my leisure and occasioanlly business stays than would otherwise be true. We used to stay entirely in Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula level accommodations, and even Aman propertites, when traveling for leisure. But the suite upgrade and points earning potential made us consider St. Regis and LC a lot, so much so that we’ve not stayed for over 5 years in a FS wherever there happens to be a St Regis! Even now, we are at the St Regis Bora Bora–where we were upgraded to the Royal Overwater Villa for a 6 night stay! The marginal difference between the FS and StR here are completely obviated by the opportunity for such an upgrade that never would be available otherwise. That’s how Starwood has earned us as very loyal customers across all of their brands. Marriot can do the same by allowing us the opportunity to enjoy comparable benefits with the SPG line-up and its own brands,especially Ritz Carlton.

  14. This long-time Platinum SPG’r has no hope of a pleasant outcome here. Just look what Marriott did in the acquisitions of Renaissance and Ritz-C. I simply do NOT trust them, and so far they have said NOTHING to make me believe them. Arne from Marriott is just spewing BS with no specifics imho.

    The big ? I have is when will get to see the life size photos of Bill Marriott (and his horse) at every W and St. Regis? I am sooo looking forward to that Marriott std. (not).

  15. SPG is only better for those who earn points on credit card. Marriott is far more generous overall. Who gives a crap about the Credit card people who don’t contribute much at the hotels. I get plenty of suite upgrades at Marriott throughout the year. I’d like to see free breakfast at CY and resorts. But other than that I don’t see SPG to be any better. I especially like rewards plus. Free United status has come in handy way more than the silly crossover rewards

  16. @Ryan says: “SPG is only better for those who earn points on credit card. Marriott is far more generous overall. Who gives a crap about the Credit card people who don’t contribute much at the hotels.”

    Right on the money because it echoes my thesis on…

    …How Travel Bloggers Contributed to the Demise of Starwood/SPG

    The catastrophic failure of Starwood and, consequently, of SPG, came about because — and travel bloggers’ touting of the metaphysically high value of unbonused spend on the SPG AMEX and the “transferability” of the resulting starpoints contributed — people no longer needed to stay at Starwood properties to earn starpoints. They just needed to get the SPG AMEX and put all their general spend on it to earn starpoints without ever stepping in a Starwood hotel. No revenue stays, well, no revenue. Period! Regrettably, that boneheaded model was of Starwood’s own creation. How?

    Is it not strange that a hotel loyalty point currency’s greatest selling point is that it can be transferred to miles for redeeming for airline award tickets? Well, that is the starpoint’s claim to fame and it is no accident. SPG made it that way on purpose…or by accident. Like all companies that run a loyalty program, Starwood had to constantly decrease their financial “liability” due to all the starpoints that they awarded with every sale but could not claim full cash credit for the equivalent of the monetary value of the points awarded until the points were redeemed, forfeited or simply got “broken” [never spent for whatever reason]. Although it can tie up billions of a company’s revenue, Starwood did not want to decrease this financial liability by encouraging members to redeem their points for FREE stays like all other programs do (“Say what?! Give those spoiled, insufferable members free stays at St. Regis? No way!”), so they made their hotel awards, especially “aspirational” ones, very expensive to redeem starpoints for. To make sure that starpoints were redeemed before the liability broke the company, SPG made it very favorable to transfer starpoints to miles for redeeming for airline award tickets [and bloggers went wild with the b.s. about how their transferability makes starpoints the “single most valuable points currency there is!”]. Marriott, Hilton and other programs are different: they decrease their liability by encouraging members to spend their points on free stays at their properties [or on innocuous stuff like magazine subscriptions], which is the better hotel loyalty program model, IMHO. Starwood’s model was flawed to the core. Touted by travel bloggers, the SPG model led to people preferring to earn starpoints through general spend on the SPG AMEX rather than getting them through revenue stays at the ridiculously expensive Starwood hotels!

    So, due to the flawed model, pushed incessantly by travel bloggers, that encouraged people to earn starpoints without ever staying at Starwood properties, the company’s growth got anemic, stockholders bitched, a CEO got canned, and on the auction block Starwood found itself!

    Marriott would do better to dump the SPG AMEX and the model that encourages members to earn points through CC spend that is not associated with hotel stays. After all, Marriott is a hospitality company whose bottom like depends on, yes, putting heads on beds and not butts on premium airline seats!

    G’day!

  17. So you’re saying a weekend a month at a Starwood for 10 years should guarantee Marriott Gold for life? That’s crazy talk.

    With fewer program choices, lifetime status should be getting tougher to earn, not easier.

  18. You’re kidding yourselves if you think this is going to play out any differently than any of the airline mergers.

    Mergers are about scale and/or eliminating competition. Scale: when you control a huge chunk of the market, loyalty matters less. Eliminating competition: there’s no reason to fling freebies at guests when they have fewer choices. Given those two variables, what possible motivation does Marriott to retain the juiciest features of the SPG program? Starwood wouldn’t have put itself up for sale if its properties and loyalty program truly commanded a market premium and a leading position. Spoiling elites doesn’t make for good business when consumer choice is reduced. Benefits will be cut, points devalued, and loopholes closed.

    Poster DSC has it right. Hotels, like airlines, will in the future be focused on rewarding the people who actually patronize their services, not the people who rack up hundreds of thousands of points through credit cards. And just like the airlines, they’re going to direct the majority of their attention (and the associated rewards) at price-insensitive business travelers. That’s where the money is, pure and simple, and those are the folks who will reap the rewards in the consolidated hotel world.

  19. @James S: “You’re kidding yourselves if you think this is going to play out any differently…”

    +1

    What passes for “objective analysis” in travel blogosphere is seldom more than one blogger’s wishful thinking or bias. Consideration is seldom given to the inherent conflict between the “free” stuff that members of a loyalty program would like to have and a for-profit company’s only objective, which is to make money for its stockholders. Managing the interface between those two competing goals is what spawned the loyalty or travel blogger, whose full time occupation is to spill much cyber-ink touting the superiority of one program over another, or expounding on a specific program’s benefit without wondering why one loyalty program would be so “generous” (give away more “valuable” stuff) as to be less “competitive”. The answer is that most loyalty program benefits are really pretty much the same!

    Case in point: the host of this site, @Lucky, did much contortion in this post to try to argue that the following proves that SPG room upgrade terms and conditions are better and more “generous” than Marriott Rewards’ because “at Starwood you’re entitled to the suite if it’s available.” Got that? “Entitled”, which is also quite telling…

    SPG Room Upgrade T&C:
    Platinum members: Platinum members receive upgrades to the best available rooms, including Standard Suites, subject to availability for the entire length of stay at time of check-in. Not offered at Aloft or Element hotels.

    Marriott Rewards Room Upgrade T&C:
    Complimentary Room Upgrade: Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member’s personal guestroom. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites. All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis, as determined at the time of check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability and identified by each hotel. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club.

    A simple syntactic analysis would readily establish that those two clauses are virtually identical. Marriott’s fault? They spelled out what SPG simply designated as “best available room”! Nowhere does it say that a SPG platinum is “guaranteed” a suite upgrade if one is available, and such a “guarantee” would be meaningless because if a property does not wish to upgrade a platinum member to a suite all it can say is that there is no availability. But a blogger’s relevance is to parse such language and come up with the most favorable interpretation even if such an interpretation has never been endorsed or suggested by a program. Another common but bogus claim is that Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrades are not capacity-controlled. Where did that come from? Not from HGP. Travel bloggers simply made it up! A HGP official, in fact, shot down the notion, telling @Gary Leff (paraphrasing): “Suites will be first sold for revenue before they are considered for free upgrades!”

    Well, you get the drift: delusion is rampant in travel blogosphere…

    G’day!

  20. News flash to idiots like DCS…all hotels/airlines LOVE miles/points being sold to credit card issuers (aka, free revenue) vs. ones that flyers/stayers generate while interacting with the program.

    http://blog.wandr.me/2014/06/the-two-types-of-award-points/

    More miles/points are earned by cards than by actually flying/staying these days, and the share of those is only increasing.

    AA/DL/UA aren’t causing their “downfall” by selling miles to Citi/AmEx/Chase and getting billions in return.

    Thus, the argument that the SPG AmEx somehow ended Starwood as a going concern is just about the dumbest statement ever uttered on these blogs.

  21. Furthermore – enough with the off-repeated claim that “the single most valuable benefit of SPG is transferring points to airlines”. It’s a nice benefit that I’m guessing <2% of SPG members regularly take advantage of.

    Here's a nice long list of reasons why SPG is arguably the BEST program at incentivizing its members to use its points on, you know, its hotels:
    – Industry originator in "no blackout dates"
    – Annual/lifetime stay/night credit for points usage (don't think Hilton does this, oops)
    – Cash & points options (another way to use points for the consumer / eliminate a liability off the balance sheet…and of course still getting lifetime credit)
    – Full benefits on any award stays (including upgrades, which one doesn't have to beg for…unlike Hilton)
    – Use points on F&B, spa services, etc. while in the middle of a paid or award stay
    – There's also SPG moments, a smart way to offer experiences (and likely at a low CPM rate for members), but one which can help to incent points-rich loyals to part even more with their points
    – And of course, a nice ability to transfer points to airlines (which, since you're not in business and generally not aware, is a reduction in liabilities off the company's balance sheet, always a smart move)

    So stop making up nonsense drivel, and go back to your lab. G'day dummy!

  22. I have been much pleased with my Marriott Gold status. Yet I am concerned that with the merger they may increase the level needed to gain access to the Club Room. We have almost always found that opportunity very worthwhile. The newly renovated JW lounge in London was one of the best, but with the Athen’s lounge close behind. That guaranteed access is a hugh benefit which I much appreciate. I guess I will remain catiously optimistic while we wait to see how Marriott accomplishs the merger.
    RCR

  23. I have been a Marriott Platinum for about ten years now. I have never been upgraded to a suite for even a one night stay. Clearly, not an incentive to stay at Marriott. The ability to stay within Marriott properties almost anywhere I go is the primary reason for me as I cannot, thankfully, get to a high level of elite with two chains.

  24. My previous post was somehow deleted – but here’s the short form:

    1. Airlines and Hotels are making billions (with a B) of dollars off their credit card portfolios
    2. They love this, as it’s “free revenue” in a sense (as illustrated here: http://blog.wandr.me/2014/06/the-two-types-of-award-points/) – versus miles carried on the books as a liability (via actual hotel / airline activity)
    3. More points/miles are now generated via cards vs. actual hotel stays / airline flights (and it’s only increasing)
    4. Thus, it truly is the height of stupidity (yet not unexpected for DCS) to claim that, somehow, the SPG Amex caused the “downfall” of Starwood.

    Get real son.

  25. @Bill on April 23, 2016 at 6:15 pm — LOL. Your wish list of what Marriott should learn from SPG is simply that Marriott should do a wholesale transformation of their Rewards program so that it is essentially replaced by the soon to be defunct SPG program! How delusional, not to mention arrogant, is that?

    Remember that it is Marriott that bought Starwood and not the other way around, and that it is SPG that went bell up and not Marriott Rewards! BTW, Marriott elites do get upgraded plenty. I am just a lowly Rewards Gold — which is 100% a better 2nd tier elite status than SPG Gold — and I have been upgraded to a suite 3 times (once at RC Georgetown!) even though I have not stayed at more than 6 Marriott properties in total.

    BTW, if SNAs are so great why did SPG decide to offer Plat 50s other perks as alternatives to SNAs? I will tell you why? They were no better than complimentary upgrades!

  26. I’ll take the bait, since no one else will.

    First, it’s pretty stupid to compare Marriott Gold (50 nights) to SPG Gold (25 nights, but easily done with more like 10-15). Not sure if you’re just trolling, or actually that dumb. Anyways…

    SPG is about choice – it’s the best program about giving you choices (see post a few up). I’ve never had an SNA fail, and it’s nice to have an advance, CONFIRMED upgrade (without resorting to bullying the front desk clerk).

    Not all Plat50s were happy with their clearance rate, so SPG gave them a choice to take an alternate gift. Most Plats kept on with the SNAs, versus other gifts that only had a value of about $100.

    BTW where are the Hilton SNAs? Night/lifetime credit for points stays? Transfer bonus? Wait, it doesn’t have ANY of those, AND ~80% of the properties are low-end/budget style options? Wow, sounds like a crappy offer to me.

    (mic drop)

  27. @DCS No, they are not identical. SPG terms state that if a suite is available, you are entitled to an upgrade. With Marriott, you MAY get upgraded, and it may not even be to a suite. Marriott is limited to availability which is determined by the hotel, you’re not entitled to anything. Surely you can read English?

    Kudos to you if you managed to get a free suite upgrade at Marriott, but you are not entitled to it. So no, the T&C are not the same for both programs.

  28. SPG Room Upgrade T&C: “Platinum members receive upgrades to the best available rooms, including Standard Suites, subject to availability for the entire length of stay at time of check-in. Not offered at Aloft or Element hotels.”

    @Doubting Thomas — Are we reading the same T&C or are you simply regurgitating the ones that bloggers have filled your head with over the year. There is NO “entitled” or “guaranteed” anywhere in the SPG T&C for room upgrades. It is a made-up interpretation of what the T&C state.

    Although it is not stated explicitly that availability is determined by a property, it does not need to be because that is always the case, especially for highly franchised properties.

    Like I said, delusion runs rampant in travel blogosphere.

    G’day!

  29. Delusion runs rampant in travel blogosphere, but apparently more so among SPG loyalists. Marriott acquired Starwood and not the other way around. Deal with it.

  30. This is the type of Disclaimer that governs virtually every loyalty program. The following is straight out of the SPG (r.i.p) T&C and represents the extent to which they “guarantee” any service, amenity, or benefit:

    “All services, amenities, and benefits of Elite Preferred Guest Membership Status are subject to change or substitution at any time without notice. In addition, all services, amenities and benefits are subject to AVAILABILITY AND SUBJECT TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EACH SPG PARTICIPATING HOTEL [all caps used for emphasis]. Not all services, amenities and benefits are offered at all SPG Participating Hotels. Starwood may correct benefits shown as available or credited to an SPG Member at any time.”

    That is why there have been reports of the “guaranteed” 4pm late checkout benefit being denied due to lack of availability, which makes any so-called “guaranteed” benefit the same as for any other program that states upfront that the benefit is subject to availability.

    G’day

  31. Delusion runs very rampant… In your mind. I never said the word entitled or guaranteed is literally in the T&C, it’s the translation of availability = suite upgrade. Surely you’re intelligent enough to translate groups of words? At SPG hotels if a suite is available, it should be yours. At Marriott, that’s not the case.

    Have you ever thought that perhaps YOU are the one who is interpreting the T&C incorrectly? Everyone is reading the forecast for Antarctica and saying they would freeze while you’re claiming you would melt from the heat.

  32. @Thomas says: “Delusion runs very rampant… In your mind” …

    … and then he immediately proves that he is delusional: ” I never said the word ENTITLED or guaranteed is literally in the T&C, it’s the translation of availability = suite upgrade”….

    ….after claiming earlier: “SPG terms state that if a suite is available, you are ENTITLED to an upgrade.”

    I am intelligent enough to recognize bullshit when I see it. You keep repeating the same garbage even after I have reproduced not just the SPG T&C that say nothing about any elite being ENTITLED to a suite upgrade, but also the disclaimer that makes it clear that each participating hotel determines availability. This means that the property calls the shots since they determine availability and “availability = suite upgrade”.

    Let me write out the SPG T&C the way Marriott wrote theirs out, by spelling out “best available rooms” in the SPG T&C and see if you’ll finally stop deluding yourself:

    “Platinum members receive upgrades to the best available rooms, which include rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms, rooms with preferred views, or Standard Suites, subject to availability for the entire length of stay at time of check-in. Not offered at Aloft or Element hotels.”

    See? Syntactically and lexically, there is no substantive difference between the SPG and Marriott Rewards or HHonors, for that matter, in the T&C for room upgrades. Stop deluding yourself. All three programs will upgrade their elites to better rooms, including suites, depending on AVAILABILITY as stated. I am ALWAYS upgraded to the exec floor as HH Diamond, and have been upgraded to a suite more than 90% of the since 2012. As a Marriott Gold, who can also be upgrade to better rooms, including suites, I have scored 3/6 suite upgrades…

    Goodbye!

  33. Only a moron can’t spot the difference between the Marriott & Starwood T&Cs with respect to suite upgrades. It’s painfully clear to everyone…except a single troll.

    (BTW, I’m guessing he is berating Marriott FDCs to achieve a 50% suite upgrade rate, given there is no shortage of MR Plats here & on FT basically saying “I can count on one hand the amount of suites I’ve gotten in the past 5-10 years. Shameful.)

  34. All you guys do is cry like babies. You didn’t earn these statuses nor, your companies paid for all these nights and stays. As for you guys crying about your lost vacations, once again, you’d think if you travelled so much, you’d be making bank. If you aren’t making bank, and can’t afford to take a nice vacation…..maybe find a new job….

    One last thing no one cares what you guys think, whether your platinum or diamond. Pretty soon your only choice will be Marriott, Hilton, or a distant third Hyatt. They control the game, threaten to leave one, just do it. You’ll come running back when they buy each other.

    I read these articles for the entertaining comments, keep on crying babies.

  35. For the record, I have my own company…so nobody else is paying for these nights/stays but me. I’m the high revenue customer every hotel chain wants, and I’ve been with SPG for a while now as it most meets my needs for business travel and gives me the best perks I want for leisure travel. Hyatt is very nice, but there just aren’t enough to meet my needs for work. Marriott and Hilton have properties everywhere in the USA, but not so much abroad–but their aspirational properties leave little to be desired so far.

    Some seem to think that Marriott should just continue as it is now. Fair enough. Yet Marriott by its own admission covets the high value customers that SPG has more than any of these other big chains. Marriott isn’t going to get as many of those if it doesn’t adopt some of the core elements of SPG. Marriott’s gains in this acquisition aren’t just about SPG properties; Marriott also specifically mentions the high customer loyalty and revenue that SPG elites bring to Starwood that no other hotel chains even remotely approaches. Marriott wants that elite loyalty, especially from the high revenue SPG elites. Marriott also doesn’t want to lose those elites to Hilton or IHG if it can avoid it.

    ALSO, SPG has far more coverage outside the USA than Marriott. Marriott needs to find a way to keep those foreign customers. Marriott loyalty program details don’t get the job done…and most people commenting herein have no clue how many choices are available abroad.

    No one knows what Marriott will do. But the name calling between some of you in here is absurd. Everyone knows what they WANT Marriott to do with its new loyalty program, and yet no one has any clue what Marriott WILL do in the end. We all are speculating here. Whining about another’s speculation is as useful as whining in general–totally useless.

    I’m likely to keep my business with the new Marriott unless the screw the pooch with elite loyalty benefits and elite redemptions at top aspirational properties. If Marriott screws that up, there’s no reason to be brand loyal at all–I can just stay at whichever property is most appropriate in any of the bigger chains or boutique properties or luxe properties as I need…and then stay at whatever luxury properties I want for leisure as I want. The only reason I prefer SPG luxury properties now is because I almost always get suite upgrades…which isn’t true at Four Seasons, Amanresorts, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Carlton, Peninsula, Rosewood, Banyan Tree, Oberoi, etc. where I’d normally stay for holiday. If suite upgrades and the like go away with Marriott, then there’s no reason for me to bother with St Regis, Luxury Collection, and W or Ritz Carlton, Edition, or the budget antiseptic luxury of JW Marriott.

    Others are welcome to see it differently. I could care less.

  36. I agree, I am a SPG member and just transferred my points to the Marriott in Vail – I am platinum with Starwood and when I asked about the breakfast they said that hotel does not participate in the program. That would never happen with Starwood, how come a franchisee gets to dictate corporate terms? I will avoid the Marriott hotels whenever possible – I am sure they will screw the SPG members and when they do it’s time to check out Hyatt and Inter-Continental.

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