Why Marriott’s New Loyalty Program May Make Me Less Loyal

At the beginning of the week we learned the details of Marriott’s new loyalty program, which will be introduced this summer. The new program is getting a mixed response. Personally I feared the worst prior to the news, so I’m pleasantly surprised by the program. Am I happy that Marriott is taking over “my” Starwood? Nope. But at the same time, I think the new program could have been significantly worse, so I’m happier than I was expecting to be, I guess.

I’ve spent the past few days pondering the impact this new program will have on me, and figured I’d share where I’m at on things.

My history with Starwood

SPG is my favorite hotel loyalty program, and I’ve been a loyal Platinum member for eight years. For the past three years I’ve had an SPG Ambassador, meaning that I’ve earned 100+ elite qualifying nights per year (I earn 10 elite qualifying nights per year by having both the personal and business SPG Amex, so that translates to at least 90 “actual” nights per year).

My Starwood Ambassador is phenomenal

The biggest perk of earning 100 elite qualifying nights with SPG in a year is that you get an Ambassador. My Ambassador, Mike, is phenomenal. People have all kinds of experiences with this program, with some saying the program is useless, while others say it completely changes their experience. Of course this probably depends mostly on who is assigned as your Ambassador.

To me, Mike is a reason to stay loyal to the brand. I always feel like he’s watching over my reservations without being intrusive, and sometimes he surprises me in a way that can’t help but put a huge smile on my face. He’s also so incredibly efficient, and even though he works limited hours, I feel like he’s always on top of things.

He’s a huge asset to Starwood, and as far as I’m concerned he should be involved in the development of this program as it’s expanded to Marriott. They need more Mikes.

I’m almost Marriott/Starwood lifetime Platinum

Going forward I’ll have to decide whether I want to go for Platinum, Platinum Premier, or Platinum Premier with Ambassador. Under the new program, you receive lifetime Platinum status after earning 600 lifetime nights plus 10 years of Platinum status. I’m at eight years of Platinum status and am approaching 600 lifetime nights, so within two years I won’t have to worry about earning Platinum status, since I’ll have it for life.

The question will be if it’s worth going for Platinum Premier (75 nights) or Platinum Premier with Ambassador (100 nights).

How I’ll requalify for Starwood Platinum Ambassador this year

Under the new program, you need 100 elite qualifying nights plus $20,000 of qualifying spend to earn Ambassador status. This is the only elite status that comes with a revenue requirement. While the new program is being instituted this year, the good news is that you can qualify based on the old criteria if you stay exclusively with Starwood.

So as long as I earn 100 elite qualifying nights with Starwood directly this year (not factoring in any Marriott properties), then I’ll earn Platinum with Ambassador, even if I don’t spend $20,000. That’s something I plan to do, and it would get me the status through the beginning of 2020.

The $20,000 revenue minimum will be a stretch, especially next year

Let me start by saying that I get why they’re adding a revenue requirement, since presumably Marriott has a massive pool of elites who stay more than 100 nights per year, and they’d have a hard time offering a good program if they gave it to so many people.

On the surface, an average rate of $200 per night isn’t unreasonable, though this doesn’t consider:

In other words, I really only need 85 nights after the 15 offered by a co-branded credit card. Then I could easily see myself booking at least 20 nights worth of awards for stays next year. If that were the case, I’d only have 65 revenue nights in 2019, and at that point I’d need an average room rate of over $300 per night before taxes and fees, which seems very steep.

It will be even tougher next year than in the future. As of this August there will be some amazing award redemption opportunities, and I plan on booking a disproportionate number of nice SPG and Marriott properties on points, given the great opportunity we’ll have for this between August and December.

Is it worth bothering if you’re lifetime Platinum?

That brings me to my current situation. I’ll earn Platinum with Ambassador through the end of next year, and basically at that point I’ll also have lifetime Platinum status. There’s no higher lifetime status to shoot for, and at the same time I’m not sure I can rationally justify spending $20,000 with Marriott when I have so many points to redeem.

I might just move closer to being a “free agent” on the hotel front. I don’t think the difference between Platinum and Platinum Premier will be that huge, so at that point I feel like I’d rather focus more on independent hotels, and use Starwood and Marriott hotels when they’re otherwise the best option, rather than seeking them out.

Bottom line

As much as the new Marriott program is better than I was expecting, after putting some thought into it, I think it may make me less loyal to the brand. I’ll soon be lifetime Platinum, and with the spend requirement for Platinum with Ambassador being steep, given how many points I have to redeem, it just seems at that point it’s not worth being particularly loyal anymore.

The more I look at the new program, the more I feel like they’re not adding enough incremental benefits beyond “basic” Platinum. Staying 35 nights per year (plus 15 elite nights through the credit card) gets you Platinum status, though I feel like for the next 50+ elite nights, there’s not actually that much differentiation. I guess we’ll have to see how hotels differentiate between Platinum and Platinum Premier members.

What impact will the new program have on your loyalty to Marriott and/or Starwood?

Comments

  1. Lucky, I’m with you– I don’t understand what is driving these changes. Yes, the want to standardize across brands, and yes they’re going to have many more elite members. But they’re also increasing their footprint.

    9 out of 10 times when companies tout “changes” to a program, you can bet that it’s a downgrade for the customer. I’m Gold at both Marriott and Starwood as of now but can’t figure out how I will benefit from this merger.

    Is there anything we can do apart from complain through our wallets?

  2. The devaluation of my Gold status definitely has me considering Hilton and it’s aspire card.

  3. Was working through the same thing in my head yesterday. Made Lifetime Marriott Gold last year, so will be Lifetime platinum from now on. So little incentive to do anything but look for the best hotel (with Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton)

  4. The changes benefit road warriors as they are the ones spending the most money on hotels and likely the most lucrative customers. It’s similar to why airlines have revenue elite programs.

  5. With the lifetime Platinum status I see no real reason for you to concentrate your stays on Marriott going forward. They are obviously setting up the highest levels primarily for heavy travelers who travel on the company dime- same as the airlines. That’s pretty clearly the intent of the spending requirements.

    So, fine. Take the lifetime platinum status, enjoy late checkout and breakfast and relatively consistent upgrades, and that’s that. Much like with the airlines, you “play it as it lays”, and have to adjust to their program shifts. They obviously don’t want you to concentrate your lower price stays with them. So don’t.

  6. For some time now it’s generally been a choice of pursuing free nights or elite benefits are loyalty programs and for the most part you weren’t really getting both. Spg/Marriott had been more in the middle than most but now is clearly on the free night side since earning rate can be better over time. Most business travelers aren’t staying 100 nights a year so those programs that have significant benefits for the 30 to 49 night travelers are appealing. Hilton is now the only major program with elites status based in stays so you can get some benefits plus free nights. Getting to Platinum Marriott doesn’t seem practical for most people. I’m splitting my stays between getting Hilton gold and Ihg (given Indigo and Kimpton).

  7. On the surface, an average rate of $200 per night isn’t unreasonable

    Does that include taxes? I assume a decent percentage of those staying +100 nights are traveling on a negotiated/corporate rate which in most cities is going to be less than $200/night at your average Marriott/Sheraton. On the other hand, if you add in parking and F&B that could close a lot of the gap.

    And…if you’re doing a resort trip or two per year with the wife and kids, even with the rooms being free, you could still end up spending a few grand on F&B, spa services and activities.

  8. I’m reading that Marriott comp “Lounge Access” and comp breakfast benefits are changing? (United 1K gives members automatic Gold, so why try?).

  9. It will definitely make me less loyal. The single biggest benefit for me is guaranteed 4PM checkout for Gold members. I’ve constantly go out of my way to book SPG (and now Marriott) properties and have been willing to book rooms that are more expensive than competitors. I don’t do so for Hilton even when I have Diamond status. Now I don’t see myself getting to Plat each year, But usually a little more than enough nights for Gold. And after 2018 that will be 30 nights not going the new Marriott’s way.

  10. Ben –

    So for Lifetime Platinum Status, does one need to meet the current benchmark (10 years, 500 nights, per SPG) by August of this year or by December of this year?

    (and I like that they’re letting people qualify for (annual) Platinum status for 2019 by meeting the current 25 stay requirement in 2018)

  11. I will be grandfathered in as lifetime platinum premier to marriot since I was lifetime plat on marriott. I was also only two years away from lifetime spg plat too (but it does not matter now)

    I found the ambassador program to be useless (lucky, they probably gave you and TPG a better ambassador than normal folks since you blog about). I think i am happy or fjne with most of the changes except the lost of spg points, which were

  12. Those are excellent points. They did not consider that 100 night people are also likely to have a shit ton of points they will ultimately want to do something with when they came up with the $20k requirement. Then again, maybe they did realize this and this may actually be by design to defang the ambassador program in order to clear the way to end it in a couple of years, which would have been very unpopular to do now.

    I also feel like they didn’t think through the implications of wrecking the earn rate on the SPG credit cards. I realized that while I like the majority of the decisions they made on the new program, I will likely disengage since I won’t have SPG point generation keeping me vested in the program.

    I spent close to 100k on the card last year. They think they will make this change and ok I will just have 200k marriott points to spend instead of 300k points under the old rules. But that isn’t what is going to happen. What is going to happen is, I am shifting the entirety of the spend elsewhere. So I will go from generating 300k points a year worth of engagement to zero. I will still stay at marriott hotels a number of times a year, but the hamster wheel is now officially broken which I thought was the point of loyalty programs.

  13. As they are finally starting to cull all the freeloaders. (read credit card and United based status boost/give aeay) I see it as a hugely positive change.

    Spending 20K seems like a very reasonable requirement in relation to 100 nights.

  14. I will be grandfathered in as lifetime platinum premier to marriot since I was lifetime plat on marriott. I was also only two years away from lifetime spg plat too (but it does not matter now)

    I found the ambassador program to be useless (lucky, they probably gave you and TPG a better ambassador than normal folks since you blog about). I think i am happy or fjne with most of the changes except the lost of spg points, which were

  15. What I don’t understand, Lucky, in this post you seem to be 100% focused on the qualification side of the status, but you didn’t mention how the value of the actual Platinum benefits you get while HAVING the status will influence your decision to book an incremental night.
    I think the rationale of the loyalty program is that the benefits you get as a Platinum should already be enough drive your loyalty, not so much your aspiration to earn an even higher status.
    And if you choose more independent hotels, it will be without any Platinum benefits there – how is that going to influence your decision?

  16. Even if you are forced to use points that reduces liability on their books.

    How did you get a million points.

  17. @Lucky

    I hope that you’ll continue to write about Marriott not allowing me to receive elite credit for more than one room moving once August hits.

    I’ve steered thousands of dollars to SPG over the years when I’ve had a group function, and it’s a bad move on their part to not allow me to get that credit.

    Airbnb now looks much more attractive for group outings.

  18. The big losers are SPG LTGolds. Agree that all the comps to Gold doomed any real benefits for that tier. Those of us who earned our status (and may have been targeting LT Platinum) have lost big time and have little or no incentive to remain loyal to the new entity. We had a temporary taste of the much better benefits of MR Gold (breakfast and lounge access, 4p late checkout) but since it took more nights and spending for that status tier, SPG Gold was pretty much MR Silver.

  19. @Jesper
    It’s rather nasty to refer to people who were GIVEN certain benefits by SPG and Marriott via their respected credit cards and loyalty programs as “freeloaders.”
    If you are a true “road warrior” then good for you.
    No need to diminish the other 50% of the people whom are disappointed in the changes.

  20. SPG was unique. SPG was cool because it catered to the leisure traveler who had some cash to burn and life to live.

    I am beyond blessed that I could earn platinum traveling for fun, rather than for work. In some ways SPG always felt like fun and Marriott felt like work.

    Now that Marriott is conglomerating with SPG, my upgrades won’t go as far. My fun won’t feel as fun.

    Let’s see how this transition goes. I have a feeling that SPG members will feel hard done by this in the long run.

  21. Marriott has managed to alienate vast swathes of the SPG membership. Reductions in benefits for Gold, credit card earning slashed, high staying LTPs suddenly second tier; their claim that this will be more than offset by increased earnings is simply risible.
    When they bought Starwood they acquired a huge pool of incredibly loyal customers ( far, far exceeding anything seen at Hyatt, Hilton or Marriott). Any reasonable person designing the new program would have made a critical priority out of ensuring that loyalty stayed firm. Miserable fail, Marriott.
    I’m in point burning mood/mode. I can’t see a bright future for this program going forward ( I have LTP, so not really hugely affected but I won’t be going out of my way to choose Marriott rather than ‘the deal of the day’

  22. @spencer

    Maybe it is a bit nasty. But yes I sleep 75 nights or more at Marriott,I t is a consequence of my travel patterns. So excuse me if I see it as crocodile tears when people complain that their status is being devalued because they suddenly actually have to stay in hotels to retain their status.
    I don’t blame people for using any options that they are given. But I will nag them for complaining about not getting something for nothing any longer. Enjoy freebies while they are around, but don’t complain about them vanishing.

  23. I don’t have to think about my loyalty after the new program – I am long gone and already booking away from Marriott. I can easily make the $20,000 for top tier but am not a road warrior so don’t hit the nights . Hyatt and Hilton take spend seriously and top tier can be attained on base points which are determined by spend .

  24. I’m curious about your positive experience with your ambassador. I have one but she really doesn’t do anything for me. What are some examples?

  25. I have Hyatt Globalist through the credit card (that one day errant targeted promotion) and as a result, I almost never stay at Hyatt anymore! I don’t have to earn status, so I have to spread my nights between Hilton and Marriott/SPG to qualify there. I feel bad since Hyatt is actually my favorite chain. I am not liking the Embassy Suites I am trying out (its a new one which is like a Hampton…) but I am not even considering the Hyatt Place behind it! We do stay at Hyatt Houses due to the kitchen but would pick Homewood Suites over it where we can. Hyatt is trying to add benefits for those that earn vs. those that have it gifted.

  26. Lucky, Do we have any info yet on what happens to the SPG free night (Cat 1-5) that one has chosen as SPG Plat 50 benefit at end of 2017 and is valid till 31 Dec 18? Where would that slot in now with the proposed change of award categories ?

  27. A BIG status “differentiation” was possible only for programs that had, for all practical purposes, only one elite level due to the fact that all the perks and benefits went to top-tier elites, while lower tiers got close to nothing. While, for unclear reasons, programs thus structured appealed to self-anointed travel gurus, the verdict is now in and it is clear that such programs were based on a faulty model.

    Hyatt GP had a Diamond level that got all the perks, and a loftily named mid-tier “Platinum” level that got nothing. SPG, likewise, had top Platinum level(s) that got all the perks, and a largely useless mid-tier Gold level. The result was that both programs were structurally weak because they built a small but insanely loyal cadre of top elites at the expense of a structurally more stable and broader user base that HH and MR were able to build by having mid-tier Gold elite levels that enjoyed pretty decent benefits, as SPG Golds who got matched to the MR Gold elite status discovered.

    That the HH/MR model is more viable has just been attested to by the fact SPG Golds who got a taste of the better MR Gold elite status are now disappointed to be losing it 😉

  28. Lucky, I’m sorry to harp on this, but before you make another statement about the huge number of elites Marriott has, it’d be value-adding to get actual numbers. I have no doubt that there are a large number of elites, because Marriott has a large footprint. However, the ability to give meaningful benefits to elite members of the program is a function of what percent of their reservations are actually made by elite members, not how many there are.

    At the end of the day, loyalty programs are about generating incremental value. At the margin, does the program incentivize people to spend money at Marriott hotels. Silver elite is a joke. Gold elite just doesn’t seem that valuable — 2pm check out is pretty useless for both business and leisure travelers, and I’ve rarely been impressed by room upgrades (usually it means a better view, and I’m never in the hotel room long enough for that to mean much). Breakfast makes platinum valuable, so that’s something to go for. 4pm check out is somewhat more useful. Beyond that, you’ve gotten on the hamster wheel so incremental benefits don’t have to be good; you only get free breakfast, lounge access, and late check out if you stay at Marriott.

    At the top end, there’s no point in spending money on people whose employers have contracts with Marriott. What surprises me is how little effort there seems to be at generating excitement at the low end. For someone who stays <50 nights, there's nothing. Marriott is saying unless you're going to commit to spending at least 50 nights, shop on price.

  29. I agree. Gold members have been hit. True, they don’t stay every week but they do stay quite a bit.

  30. I think the big differentiation is going to be in practice. In the old system, yes, you used to still have certain perks that kicked in at higher nights counts, but the levels did not really change. Methinks if you think you are going to get the same level of recognition as a Plat when Plat Prem/Amb is so clearly defined you are going to be sorry.

    For example, any word on how hotels are suppose to manage the upgrades? I know Plat and above are suppose to get suites but I can see it now already — the blog posts about how you checked in, got a standard room, checked what was still selling, suite was available, go back to desk, they are saving it for a Plat Prem/Amb, etc.

  31. Lucky, what is the possibility that “Mike” provides excellent service to you because he knows you are a blogger?

  32. Who told you to hoard points like a rookie? One million Starpoints?! What happened to earn and burn? And now you’re complaining because you need to redeem them and will have a hard time hitting the $20k spend. Go figure.

  33. With respect to benefits, they now have only one real elite level so I can’t imagine why any mid-level people would stay. I’ll take a wild guess that Marriott won’t be filling their hotels with high level elites every night and at some point will have to re-tool this new loyalty program approach to retrieve former loyalists or cut back on perks and/or raise rates for its elites. The elites might be rejoicing now but the other shoe has yet to drop. After all, there is robust competition offering meaningful benefits to mid-level elites. As a former Marriott 20+ night per year loyalist, I am NOT a freeloader – probably paid more for my stays than the above commenter. Hilton recruited me last year and I made the switch and I’ll never go back, especially now.

  34. I have the years for lifetime platinum, but I’ll be short on nights. Then they move the goalposts on me. I’m going free agent. Hilton Gold has breakfast and can be had with my Amex Platinum, and I’m not confident Marriott will play fair with suite upgrades with so many elites and so many highway properties. My guess is the value of SPG Platinum won’t be maintained after the merger.

  35. 1mm starpoints? Is this onemileatatime or onedollaratatime? You can’t complain about the new Ambassador spending amount + awards not helping towards that, when you didn’t burn such a large amount of points.

  36. I wouldn’t go out of your way when it comes to the higher lifetime status. Spending 20k when you normally wouldn’t isn’t a good move here. Its not really lifetime status. Its status until they decide to change it again. If you were guaranteed these perks for the rest of your life then yea maybe its worth it, but for all we know they will downgrade perks in 2 years. No telling and its not worth it for the slight benefits.

  37. ” What surprises me is how little effort there seems to be at generating excitement at the low end.” – I dunno if the statistics back this up but its an interesting idea. I would think that marriott would want to focus on the midrange people who have like 30-50 stays a year. The top end people are probably with big companies that have contracts and don’t go with marriott because of loyalty programs but go based on the price and coverage. Smaller businesses where the owners may value the loyalty programs more may be willing to spend a bit more money to get the perks since its themselves staying at the properties more so than their subordinates. Seems like marriott would want to use their loyalty programs to give incentive to this group of people to choose them over a competitor. I’d be interested in seeing the breakdown of the marriott customer base and large vs small corporate clients vs number of stays etc if that is out there anywhere.

  38. Lucky,

    1) What would you do if you were nowhere near Lifetime status? Would you continue to book 100 nights a year with Marriott?

    2) I agree with basically every change Marriott made except for not adding more benefits at the 25 night or so level. There are a lot of business travelers that may spend 40 or 50 nights a week on the road and for whatever reason can’t concentrate all of those stays at Marriott. I’m one of them. Making a 25 night level worth striving for would result in more bookings. Now, I may do 10 Hilton nights, 15 Marriott nights, 10 independent nights and 10 luxury nights.

  39. I have been and SPG Platinum Ambassador for 3 years but I have been able to earn my status only because I travel a lot with friends and family and I’m able to book upto 3 rooms under my name and reach 125+ nights. You mentioned that this year, up to 31st December, 2019, SPG members can qualify for the Ambassador status based on the old SPG requirements. Does this mean that from 1st August onwards, if I book 3 rooms, I will get elite night credit for all 3 rooms until 31st December, 2018 ?

  40. Does anyone know how to find out how many years you’ve been Platinum with Marriott? I have 1600+ lifetime nights but not sure how many Platinum years. Do the Platinum years have to be consecutive?

    I sure hope it’s not like Delta Air Lines and their Lifetime status. It’s a joke.

    Aloha

  41. It looks like that unless you are a road warrior, there will be less incentive to stay at Marriotts. If I were not a LTP, I would probably concentrate my stays at Hilton, where Diamond status (although not as valuable as Marriott Platinum) can be had for the price of an Amex Aspire and Gold status (with breakfast) can be had for less. In fact, if going to a resort, I might be more inclined to stay at a Hilton, as at least I can get lounge privileges there. I gave up Hyatt a few years ago when the program became worthless for less than very frequent travelers. I think Marriott’s thinking is that the lure of free stays (likely to be devalued before we can count to 50 nights) will lure the leisure traveler. That is possible until they catch on. This is even more likely when they see the loyalty points from credit cards decreasing too. In fact many credit cards today are just benefit cards, as they are great to have for the benefits, but otherwise belong in the sock drawer. Also, I might be more likely to use Amex FHR/Virtuoso, which get many of the same benefits of status.

  42. I’m really disappointed in the changes. I’m not a road warrior, I’m a leisure traveler and I’ve been loyal to SPG for well more than a decade, getting Gold status through spend on my Amex SPG card every year. That part has been harder since I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve and I’ve moved some spending there (as well as Amex leaving Costco a couple of years ago).
    In 2019, the Amex SPG spend requirement for Gold status goes from $30,000 to $35,000. That may not sound like much but it may be a deal breaker for me. I may just go all in on the Chase card after that and forget trying to get to Gold with Marriott.

  43. Will cancel AmEx SPG and CHase Marriott Card, not sure what happen to the Chase Ritz Card yet. No longer a Marriott loyal. Will focus on Hilton.

  44. Jesper and DCS are correct in their observations as are others.

    The SPG LT Plats and LT Golds that complain really are just mostly bellyaching — as is Lucky.

    Most will still stay with the combined entity because of the perks they already have earned with the soon to be combined programs or those that are within achieving within a couple of years.

    For instance, Norman the LT Gold lamenting the 4 pm late checkout. But Norm, Hilton does not guarantee Late Checkout at all for any status level, nor does IHG, and if Hyatt does, you likely have to be top tier with a huge amount of stays/nights and their much smaller footprint.
    Advantage Marriott.

    Those SPG LT Plats who are over 750 nights, I feel for you and you have a right to be angry, but really, you are going to chuck it all away over that? First, you will chuck away all those Platinum benefits including lounge and breakfast and 4 pm late checkout. Remember, neither of the other hotel chains offers that!

    Nor given the many post of these people, do they seem to be the type who will be happy to share HHonors lounges with simply AMEX Diamond Aspire credit card holders. Further, HHonors does not guarantee late checkout for them. In addition, if they really put a huge number of nights under their belts, at least the new Marriott program does recognize them more via the 50, 75 and Ambassador levels — the other programs – with rare exceptions such as IHG Royal Ambassador and the like — with a much smaller footprint of impressive top tier hotels than the new Marriott behemoth — simply does not have the breadth.

    Sure, you can be a free agent — that is what most judicious hotel elites who don’t travel frequently have been doing all along — and yet, we still managed to obtain LT Gold in Marriott thru years of hard work and judicious planning — and now it is being paid off by soon to be LT Platinum status!

    Many complain now, but Marriott has been exceedingly nice to SPG Golds — when they were given the much nicer Marriott Gold status and all SPG members benefited by Marriott’s generous decision to quantify 1 SPG point as equal to 3 Marriott points — they did not have to do that.

    So yes, the program has been devalued a bit for the top tier elites, but frankly, given Marriott’s huge size and still great rewards benefits going forward, where are honestly the most of you going to do better in finding a rewards program?

  45. @ Hadley, I don’t think that’s really the point though. Sure their huge size makes it unlikely everyone will just stop using them in some capacity, but that is business they are getting because of footprint. The loyalty program is about getting business out of loyalty. Where a customer is going to choose to stay in a Marriott property when he wouldn’t otherwise simply due to the pursuit of status, points and perks. It should be very relevant to Marriott if they made changes that are going to undermine the effectiveness of that jedi mind trick.

  46. As if expecting it, Hilton greatly beefed up its loyalty program to make it more mid- and top-tier elite friendly, and is now keeping a low profile and picking up new members, mostly at the still easy-to-earn Gold level, while Marriott Rewards self-destructs because it modified its well structured and balanced program to try to do the impossible: appease insanely loyal SPG elites.

  47. After chasing status with all the major chains, the LTP with SPG and now to Marriott works for me. I like the Hyatt lounges, but they gutted the program, so now I’ll only stay at a Hyatt if it makes sense for business and just buy club access. I’ll probably stay at a JW when available, but mostly in Asia so not sure I’ll make the $20,000 spend after 100 nights. Large sprawling cities like Houston and LA will definitely be with Airbnb as I can locate in quiet areas with nice wine bars and small restaurants. Small midwestern places and no Marriott presence will be with Holiday Inn as it’s easy to qualify for their highest level elite. I’ve had very disappointing experiences with RC’s, so everywhere else I stay will be at the Starriott with the best lounge. I’m very happy and no more going to out of the way hotels just to chase status.

  48. The industry has been going limited service in a massive way the last 10 years. Limited service hotels make up ~90% of expected hotel supply in the next 3 years (in the US at least). The loyalty programs are likely slowly going to be more geared towards those types of hotels.

  49. @ Hadley

    No, LTPs will keep the lounge and breakfast regardless of how few nights they spend. All that’s forgone for staying fewer than 50 nights is the SNAs (and higher earn rate.)

  50. As a 100 night + Hyatt member (who spent 60 nights at SPG last year too), this is either Hyatt’s opportunity to make their ambassador program worth while and work. Or for Marriott to make a play for converts from other programs.

  51. This is why we need competition not consolidation. This devalued loyalty program is a perfect opportunity for another program to pick up elites. Hear that Hyatt?

  52. Sad to see that the comp for United Mileage Plus Platinum 1Ks to getting a free breakfast is going.
    It was a real benefit to me and I opted for Marriotts whenever i had the chance.
    Now if UA PLatinum 1Ks are translated to Marriott Gold Elite come August, it will be of no use to me.

  53. @ Paolo,

    I know that. What I was stating was that as a LT Plat, even if you are disappointed that you were not granted LT Plat Premier status, a LT Plat certainly has an incentive to patronize the merged conglomerate for the above perks, not to mention possibility of better rooms and points, and a 4 PM late checkout — none of which the other chains can truly supply to them in their entirety.

    As noted, I doubt very much that disappointed SPG Plats are going to like sharing their Concierge lounges with individuals who simply hold an AMEX Aspire card, and who also compete with them for Diamond suite upgrades, as well, by virtue of their holding said card.

    Royal Ambassador supplies an even smaller footprint than than Hyatt in the sense that these candidates likely would not even consider staying in a Holiday Inn property — although I am sure that they would give the Kimpton properties a spin — but that depends on whether they travel within the USA as Kimpton is extremely limited presently overseas.

    Thus, I don’t see many defections to AirBnB among that crowd either since the service would be lacking or non-existent from hotel staff.

    Nope, I think on the whole, in most situations, they will stick with Marriott as it still supplies 50, 75 and Ambassador benefits, albeit at a somewhat less lucrative scale to them and the major competition either does not offer same or has too small a footprint to compete.

  54. Well that’s great Lucky. It means they are losing not only their SPG Golds like me who have been Gold for over 10 years but haven’t quite yet reached Lifetime Gold on nights but they are losing their most loyal 100+ nighters as well who do have Lifetime Platinum status. They’ll lose most of those who only stay loyal because they have a credit card too.

    Perhaps someone had a great idea when they came up with this new programme and said: “Hey, wouldn’t it be a lot easier and cheaper to run this programme if we just lost all our customers?”.

    It would be really great if someone could run an online poll that asks members of the two programmes what their status is, how many nights they typically stay now and how many they will stay after the changes. Then maybe we could apply some simple statistics and work out just what the impact on Marriott’s earnings will be. I reckon that might just make them sit up and listen before it’s too late.

  55. Lucky,

    In your conversations with the head of Marriott’s loyalty program, did they discuss one other tier not mentioned in your article or on their website??

    I am already a LTP and have been for several years now…I am also a Charter Ambassador Member ( I even have the fancy, schmancy metal luggage tag) and I still continue to stay at Marriott properties to the tune of 150+ nights per year, so I always get awarded the current Platinum Premier status.

    How does this tier get recognized/grandfathered in? Do I lose the opportunity to get suite upgrades since I am already at their current highest lifetime achievable level? The new Ambassador stay + revenue requirements will not be a problem for me…perhaps Marriott will create a new Super, Duper Titanium, Adamantium Level for us LTP’s who are already Ambassador Members, Yet Stay 150+ nights and are PP members??

    Thoughts?

  56. So 20k spending requirement on 100 night platinum. How long until there is a 15 k spending requirement on 75 night platinum, and 10k on 50 nights.

    And how long till some of the benefits of these statuses go only to active members, not to the lifetime old timers.

    And how big will the August devaluation be, and the March devaluation, coupled with peak season pricing for all the times that it is worth visiting a destination.

    2018 is year six Starwood platinum for me, and is easy. 2019 is already hoped for trips, enough points , and some of the current pricing being available .
    So it is likely expensive mattress running for three years — at what cost and at what likely benefit ?

    My current choice is how many Starwood points to effectively buy on the Amex card. I know I won’t be buying any more later.

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