Will Marriott Status Match SPG Platinum Members?

With Marriott’s takeover of Starwood a sure thing, us loyal SPG members are having to come to terms with the fact that we’ll soon be Marriott Rewards loyalists unless we change our behavior.

Merger

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-Benefits

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.

Marriott-GRU-Airport
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport

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.

Marriott-Club-Lounge
I would have only received club lounge access after six stays

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).

Bottom line

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?

Comments

  1. @ Lucky — FYI, SPG Plat to Marriott Gold challenge has been standard. I did it a couple years ago with the same conditions so this isn’t something they’ve done recently. If they are going to do anything different, I’d think it’d be closer to the merger of the programs.

  2. How are you supposed to accumulate 6 paid stays before March 31, 2016? You’d need a time machine…

  3. “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.”

    Suppose you were planning on taking up the challenge, how do you plan on going back in time?

  4. Ben, as many nights as you stay in hotels, I believe you will get Lifetime Platinum Premier in no time with Marriott!

  5. One way to pull this off without too much pain would be to book through Amex FHR, if applicable. That would give you the FHR benefits while building up your stays for status.

  6. you need to come to terms that your SPG loyalty is gonna become Marriott loyalty soon… or increased Hyatt loyalty in your case unless Marriott throws you some incentives as a blogger.

  7. My question is the reverse. Given I am Marriott Platinum (75 nights) will Starwood match me to SPG Platinum (only requiring 50 nights) prior to the merger? I already have Gold through Amex Platinum card.

  8. Wait, you got Gold challenge? I got Silver challenge (as a SPG Plat & Hyatt Diamond) meanwhile I have no status during the challenge. Literally makes no sense, so I cancelled all Marriott stays this year. At least if I had “Taste Of Gold” (Gold status given while doing Gold challenge) then I would have finished it.

  9. Thanks, Lucky. Hmmm. I’m actually in the opposite situation—Marriott Platinum, but with a few opportunities for potential SPG stays coming up (which would otherwise go to Marriott or Hyatt). I wonder if SPG would consider matching a Marriott Platinum to the SPG platinum level before the merger is completed. Has anyone asked about this?

  10. I had a recent stay at a Ritz Carlton in Cancun and had some really bad experiences. They didn’t seem to care when I politely brought it to management’s attention. F-This if this is what we can expect from Marriott to spill over into our beloved SPG luxury collection, st. regis, and other properties.

  11. It seems that Marriott wants nothing to do with loyal members of the SPG family until the pre-nup is signed and the marriage is consummated – and even then, they might ignore us at the Thanksgiving dinner table!

  12. I don’t know what a lot of you talk about. I have been Platinum with Marriot since probably 10 years ago, several of these years I have not even get close to the number of night stays and it only has take to politely ask a supervisor to extend the status and it always has been done. I have excellent service from Marriott, I am elite with SPG and O have not even experience half of the good service I get from Marriott. I am coming back from a three weeks trip to India despite only booking the most basic stays I only got suites including the presidential suite two times without having even to ask for. I am vegetarian and always the chef will call me to prepare dishes for me (complementary) even yesterday in Madrid I wanted to do some shopping and they sent me I their car (once again complimentary) I hear you all complaining about Marriott Rewards but it seems to me you don’t even really know how good it is.

  13. Marriott doesn’t offer status matches, and it hasn’t had enough time to begin absorbing any of the elements that make SPG so popular. So I’m not sure why Lucky or anyone else is getting their hair in a bunch!

    I’m SPG Plat 100+, as well, and I’m also Marriott Gold (via RewardsPlus being United Lifetime Premier Gold). Only this year have I stayed at a few Marriotts to test them out: Courtyard New Haven (where there is no other competition aside from the worst Omni ever) and the Renaissance Providence (which turned out to be a VERY nice hotel, indeed).

    The fact is that SPG Platinums have NOWHERE to turn to match what we enjoy now. Hyatt, which comes closest, isn’t nearly as good–no suite upgrades, after all, and the DSUs don’t work on award stays–and doesn’t have nearly enough properties to satisfy most. Hilton and IHG and Marriott currently all offer watered down elite benefits compared to SPG and even Hyatt. Marriott may not be great now, but it’s no worse than Hilton or IHG!

    I got the Hyatt and Hilton Diamond status due to the status match craze. Shockingly, I have yet to want to stay at a single Hyatt or and have stayed at only 1 Hilton (The Franklin Chapel Hill, Curio Collection). The places where Hyatt would be attractive are NOT the places where I’ve traveled or will travel thus far. The places where Hilton has upscale properties are more limited than I realized–lost of budget properties and solid Hiltons, but few really upscale properties. IHG has even fewer.

    Turns out the Renaissance and JW Marriott properties are the closest groups that approach with any frequency what SPG already has in its portfolio. Yes, Hilton has Waldorf, but there are so few. Yes, Hyatt has Park Hyatt, but there aren’t enough of anything else.

    While everyone is whining about Marriott, no one seems to have noticed that Hilton and IHG aren’t any better than Marriott. And Marriott at least has more upscale properties from which to choose than the others for the most part. Hyatt has the upscale properties…but not even close to enough to suit most people’s travels.

    Marriott is learning. I’m pleased that they might match my SPG Ambassador with a Marriott equivalent. I’m pleased that they now offer guaranteed 4 pm late checkout. That’s better than Hilton or IHG and the Ambassador is better than Hyatt. NO ONE is offering GUARANTEED suite upgrades now other than SPG…so we can cross our fingers and hope for Marriott to develop that.

    Marriott isn’t as good for elites as SPG is. But Marriott seems to be working towards what SPG elites are hoping for more than Hilton and IHG. Hyatt doesn’t have enough properties, but if they match your travels, then I can understand why people might migrate to Hyatt.

    Otherwise, I am starting to stay at more upscale Marriotts to test the waters. I am an SPG Plat who likes NICE properties–so I’m more interested in the luxury and upper upscale brands like StR, W, LC, Westin, LM, Tribute, and Design. So I’m testing out the Marriott brands that are comparable to those, like JW Marriott, Renaissance, Autograph, and of course Ritz Carlton…and maybe a few Marriotts. So far, I’m fairly reassured.

    The hotels are there. The hotel quality is there. The question is what will the elite benefits for Marriott be in the end. Only time will tell. But whining about Marriott without recognizing they are still better than Hilton or IHG is ridiculous.

  14. Do you have any Marriott status, say from a credit card. It used to be you could get a 3 month trial once a year- when you got status during the trial. But after the United partnership giving UA silver elite and lots of folks doing the platinum challenge to get US silver elite Marriott stopped matching. About a year or so ago you could challenge (where you got status for the trial 3 months) up one level- so if you had silver form a Marriott card you could challenge to Gold- which is the goldilocks level as you get lounge access and possible discretionary upgrades (but you will do well if you let the front line employee limos that they have upgraded rooms available online for awards that night (that is that you know that they have empty upgraded rooms available). So if you have Silver (or gold) I suggest you can try a status trial to the next hired level to start just before you next stays. See it helps to actually read the comments

  15. With all these travel industry mergers, anybody that expects any post-merger program to be as good as it used to be will likely be very disappointed. Recent history has taught us this with airline elite status and we get frequent reminders periodically.
    That aside, I sure they’re working on some kind of Marriott/Spg reciprocal elite benefits once the merger closes.

  16. Thanks for this post and Marriott’s reply to your status match request demonstrates how hugely disappointing the outcome of the merger portends to be for SPG Platinum members. I already have Marriott Gold status thanks to the Ritz Carlton card and the United 1K partnership. Marriott and Hilton do maintain nice airport hotels which work for a one night stay before an early flight. The only time I was ever upgraded at a Marriott was at the Marriott HKG, my favorite airport hotel when arriving into town on a late flight.

    Yet, we all knew that this merger was not going to be easy. Like you I pushed for the Hyatt and Hilton Diamond status match and will have no problem maintaining that status and have been enjoying the upgrades. Hyatt is the only brand close to SPG standards in treating its elite members well so there are options to deal with disappointment.

  17. When the merge is complete what is expected to happen to SPG platinum members? Will they get the top tier status with Marriot? What about the SPG gold and Platinum for life. Are they going to have to start over????

  18. I agree with the email. They shouldn’t be giving it away because if they did, you’d blast it to kingdom come. Good move Marriott.

  19. I am confused by the expectation that SPG Platinum should match Marriott Platinum. If you look at both the number of nights required to qualify and the benefits, it is clear that SPG Platinum matches closest to Marriott gold. Both require 50 nights and both are the minimum level that give lounge access, free breakfast, etc. I am gold level with Marriott, SPG, and Hilton, but the benefits are dramatically different between these programs. I consider SPG and Hilton gold to be of minimal value but Marriott gold is extremely valuable, so it is not really fair to call Marriott gold mid-tier.

    As far my personal experience goes with Marriott, I receive an upgraded room nearly every stay and have been upgraded to some amazing suites. At my last stay in Lima two weeks ago, I was easily able to get a 7pm check-out. Housekeeping even offered to clean my room in the morning before my late check-out.

    Lucky, you should try the gold level challenge if you really want to understand Marriott rewards.

  20. Due to antitrust regulations, until the merger closes, Marriott cannot do anything to indicate any special treatment or incentive to customers of Starwood anymore than would be offered to another competitors customers. It’s not unusual for a company to treat the merging company even less beneficial than from other competitors to be even more careful. Any violation could scuttle the entire merger! That’s why at this point all they can do is adjust their own program for its own members.

  21. @dmodemd
    Thanks for that clarification, it makes sense. But why on earth didn’t they just say that from day one rather than leave SPG members confused by the whole thing?

  22. @David – it is very fair to call Gold “mid-tier” on Marriott BECAUSE it is exactly mid-tier!

    SPG Plat maps nicely to Marriott Plat, as 1) Marriott Plat gives you a 50% point bonus, similar to SPG Plat, and 2) it’s considered “top tier”, which is what’s more important than the amount of nights required to get to that level (Marriott is an outlier with that amount of nights for both mid and high tier compared to other programs)

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