Earlier today we learned that Marriott’s takeover of Starwood is expected to close in the next couple of days, following the Chinese Ministry of Commerce delaying their approval of the deal.
As we’ve witnessed in a countless number of mergers in the airline & hotel industry so far, nothing typically changes overnight after a merger, at least from our standpoint. The deal closing has significance for investors, but unfortunately for the rest of us it’s a very drawn out process.
My hope is that Marriott will shortly gives us a timeline of what we can expect. I understand that they won’t likely reveal everything about the future of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest in the next couple of weeks, probably because there’s a lot they’re still figuring out themselves. However, I do hope that they’ll provide a timeline of what we can expect in terms of reciprocal benefits for members, program integration, etc.
As I look at the future of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, I realize that I have a lot of questions but very few answers.
With that in mind, I figured I’d compile a list of the 10(ish) questions that I’m most curious about in terms of the future of SPG & Marriott Rewards. In no particular order:
- When will there be reciprocal benefits and points earning/redemption opportunities between Marriott and Starwood?
- What will happen to Starwood & Marriott lifetime status? Will Starwood lifetime Platinum convert into Marriott lifetime Gold or Platinum? Will Starwood lifetime Gold convert into Marriott lifetime Silver or Gold?
- At what ratio will Starpoints be converted into Marriott Rewards points? 1:2? 1:3?
- Will Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards even merge, or will they run parallel programs, just as Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards are separate programs, even though the benefits overlap?
- What will the qualification tiers be like with the combined program?
- Will American Express or Chase be taking over the credit card contract for the combined program, or will we perhaps see both issuers have co-branded cards, just as we’re seeing with American (which has a relationship with both Barclaycard and Citi)?
- If Starwood Preferred Guest is merged into Marriott Rewards, will there be any official suite upgrade perk for top tier members?
- Will the combined program continue to offer Ambassador service as a published benefit, similar to what Starwood does now for those with 100+ elite qualifying nights per year?
- Will Marriott Rewards introduce any lucrative opportunity to directly convert their points into airline miles, other than through their Hotel + Air packages?
- Will Ritz-Carlton Rewards continue to be run independently? If so, going forward it could make sense to just earn status through the Ritz-Carlton credit card, given that you can earn Gold or Platinum status quite easily through the card.
What are you most curious about?