Fortunately Marriott Rewards is already starting to adopt a few aspects of the Starwood Preferred Guest program, like guaranteed 4PM check-out, an experiences marketplace, and a concierge service for their most valuable members. Only time will tell what the new program will look like, but based on Marriott’s sneakiness so far in implementing changes, I’m not holding my breath for further positive changes.
Marriott has hotels everywhere, so the truth is that they don’t have to be quite as rewarding as Starwood. You can be loyal to Marriott pretty effortlessly, while being loyal to Starwood takes effort.
The Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs will continue to be run independently, likely through the end of next year at a minimum. I’m grateful for that, since it means my great Starwood experience isn’t going anywhere yet.
However, I’m finding myself in a situation where it would be practical for me to make several Marriott stays in the near future, and for that matter I’d actually like to sample some more of their hotels to get a better sense of what I can expect. I totally understand that the two hotel groups don’t offer reciprocal elite benefits yet, which is fine, since the takeover is still in the early stages as far as the customer experience goes.
Nonetheless I sent an email to Marriott Rewards explaining I was a Starwood Platinum member with 100+ elite qualifying nights last year, asking if they offer any sort of status match or challenge (as other hotel chains do).
Here’s how Marriott Rewards responded (in part):
Marriott does not match statuses with other hotel chains. However, on behalf of Marriott Rewards Guest Services, please allow me to extend the offer of a Gold Elite Status challenge. If you accept this offer, your account status would be upgraded to Gold Elite after the following terms have been met.
In order to achieve this status, you must accumulate six separate paid stays beginning with the date your account is registered for the offer, through March 31, 2016. This is a one-time offer, and would be effective within three business days of your acceptance of this offer.
Once you have accumulated six separate paid stays, your account status would be upgraded to Gold Elite through January 2017. To retain this status for all of 2017, you would need to accrue the qualifying number of Elite nights during 2016. The Silver Elite level requires 10 Elite nights, the Gold Elite level requires 50 Elite nights, and the Platinum Elite level requires 75 Elite nights.
So basically Marriott will offer me a mid-tier challenge where I get Gold status after six stays, but in the meantime I have no status. Thanks but no thanks.
I understand Marriott doesn’t historically offer status matches, though from Marriott’s perspective you’d think they’d want to offer something to start getting Starwood loyalists staying with them. After all, a lot of Starwood loyalists split their stays between Starwood and another hotel chain, given Starwood’s limited global footprint. Wouldn’t it be better for Marriott if those stays start being at their hotels, rather than at Hilton, IHG, etc.?
But as someone who more than double qualifies for Starwood Platinum status, a Gold challenge where I only get the status after six stays is a non-starter.
I’ll be sticking to Hyatt, Starwood, and Hilton for now (which gladly matched me to Diamond status based on my status with other hotel chains).
While I wasn’t expecting to be successful based on my historical understanding of the Marriott Rewards program, I figured I’d see if anything has changed. To anyone else who was interested, expect to be disappointed if asking for a match or challenge.
No, I wasn’t expecting them to outright match me to Marriott Platinum, but at a minimum it would be nice to have the status during the challenge period, especially since they were just offering a challenge to a lower tier.
Marriott, I think you could generate quite a bit of additional business if you started offering something to Starwood elite members, at least on a requested basis.
To Starwood loyalists — would some sort of a status match/decent challenge get you to start staying with Marriott over another hotel chain?