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”).
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.
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).