Marriott and Starwood customers are eagerly waiting news about their hotel loyalty points after both of the giants agreed to merge. The former just announced that they signed a deal for the acquisition of Starwood for $13.6 billion, a move that will make it the largest hotel company in the world. The first offer was made last November for $12.2 billion, and then there was one for $14 billion last week. Shareholders will now decide what will happen to the loyalty points that customers have racked up.
NerdWallet expert Sean McQuay says that if you are staying at properties like Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis and Le Meridien, it is a fairly good bet that your points won’t be worth as much. Chances are the Starwood’s points program will be devalued to what Marriott is offering right now, mainly because the former is among the top competitive programs in travel right now, with points reaching a rate of 2 to 2.5 cents. Marriott on the other hand, gives about 1 cent per point, and that has to be earned through hotel stay.
Despite any changes that may happen to both programs, it is not likely that customers will see much of a difference. It is not every day that two hotel brands with such strong customer bases merge. It will take about a couple of years from the time that the merger is announced to when the loyalties merge, a lot like what happened with American Airlines-US Airways. If you didn’t follow that, the merger itself was in 2013, but their rewards programs did not completely merge until 2015.
Marriott Rewards, along with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards program, has about 55 million members, while SPG currently has around 21 million members, according to the umbers the companies have let out. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company was acquired in 1998, even though it didn’t have a rewards program at the time that deal was struck. One thing is for sure: Marriott and Starwood combined will keep customers happy, and the interim is likely to be full of temporary promotions for guests of both enterprises. Promoting the merged brand will be easy, but that doesn’t mean it won’t benefit existing and new customers in the meantime.
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