The first major decision from Marriott International after their merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts was to provide reciprocal benefits to each of their loyalty program members.
Marriott International purchased Starwood in an estimated $13 billion deal. This deal allowed Marriott International to become the largest hotel company in the world. Marriott launched 30 new brands and expanded their business to over 5,700 hotels.
Reports indicate that Marriott owns approximately 1.1 million rooms in over 100 countries. This major decision enabled the members of the Marriott Rewards program and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) to link their accounts at the official site of Marriott, so that they could earn and redeem their reward points.
In an interview, Marriott CEO, Arne Sorenson said, “We did want to deliver real benefits to our customers immediately.” She also added that the two programs will continue as separate and Marriott will focus on product and technology enhancements.
Sorenson also confirmed that their merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts will approximately double the presence of their company in lucrative regions such as Africa, Middle East, and Asia. This is one of the biggest hotel mergers in the recent years. Prior to this merger, IHG and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants also entered into a merger last year.
Even though many individuals have showed their likeness towards this recent merger, executive director of the Master’s of Hospitality Management Program at Georgetown University, Gray Shealy, feels that the merger will be less rocky. “They’ve had tons and tons of time to prepare for it,” Shealy said. “If anyone is going to do it as smoothly as possible it would be Marriott. Airline operations are so wildly different than hotel operations.”
Senior hotel research analyst at Baird, David Loeb stated that a lot more options would be available to the Marriott customers because of this merger. Loeb said that the options might not be available over the entire industry. “It will be tougher and tougher for smaller companies to compete. Consumers do like choice,” he added.
Sorenson has also confirmed that they are planning to retain the existing brands of the company. “We think we’re advantaged and our customers are advantaged by having more choice, not less,” Sorenson said. He also added that Marriott plans to “provide as clear a distinction as we can between the brands in terms of product and service so that our customers can have a sense of what each brand stands for.”