All three of these features are things that Starwood offers, which certainly suggests that this was an attempt to make SPG members feel better about the takeover, while also giving something to Marriott Rewards members. Specifically, at the time Marriott introduced the following three benefits:
- The new Marriott Rewards experiences marketplace gives all members, including Ritz-Carlton Rewards members, even more access to a collection of unique, curated experiences.
- For an initial group of elite members of Marriott Rewards, a new elite concierge service will provide them with a dedicated concierge so that their travel experience is both seamless and tailored to their individual needs.
- Guaranteed late checkout will give Gold and Platinum Elite members of Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards increased flexibility and peace of mind when they travel.
So Marriott essentially added something similar to SPG Moments and SPG Ambassador Service, as well as guaranteed late check-out.
Marriott has renamed their elite concierge service
While Marriott has so far only introduced their elite concierge service on an invitation only basis, it’s clear that they’re wanting to test out something similar to SPG’s Ambassador Service. SPG’s Ambassador Service is available to SPG members who earn more than 100 elite qualifying nights in a calendar year.
While I don’t want to read too much into things, it is interesting to note that Marriott’s Elite Concierge Service has recently been renamed Marriott Rewards Ambassador Service. This matches how Starwood refers to their service.
As of now the details of the service haven’t changed — it’s still on an invitation only basis — though it sure seems like they’re choosing to learn from Starwood here. The FAQs about the service provide some insight into what Marriott’s Ambassador Service provides, which is similar to Starwood’s service:
a. 1:1 access to a personal Marriott Rewards contact
b. Assistance before, during and outside a stay with reserving on-property services like spa, restaurant and golf
c. Scheduling ground transportation to and from the property
d. Enhanced recognition on property
I hope Starwood’s Ambassador Service sticks around
I’ve shared my experience with Starwood’s Ambassador Service, which has been nothing short of phenomenal. In fairness, my Ambassador is great, and I know not all of them are as good as mine is. But he really goes the extra mile to put a smile on my face.
This service has repeatedly caused me to book Starwood over a competitor. So I hope Marriott sees the value in the service and keeps it around.
At the same time, I have a hard time imagining that they’ll keep it around with the same qualification criteria that Starwood has.
Part of the reason SPG is so good (in my opinion) is because they’re a smaller hotel chain, so they need a compelling program to be competitive. It takes effort to be loyal to Starwood.
However, now that Marriott has taken over Starwood, they’re the world’s biggest hotel group. It doesn’t take much effort to be loyal to Marriott, given that they have hotels all over the place.
Their top tier status requires 75 elite qualifying nights per year, and I don’t see that being lowered. I also don’t see them offering Ambassador Service for those earning 100 elite qualifying nights per year, since I imagine that would include a lot more people at Marriott than Starwood.
While there’s no substance to the change yet, it is interesting that Marriott’s Elite Concierge Service has been renamed Marriott Ambassador Service. I suspect this isn’t a coincidence, and that it at least signals that they plan to keep the program around. What that looks like in practice, though, is anyone’s guess.
Do you think Marriott will keep around Ambassador Service, and if so, will it look anything like what Starwood presently offers?