How do hotel tie-ups affect loyal guests?

Regular guests worry loyalty schemes may be watered down
The tie-up between Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is likely to be approved today, but loyal guests are worried.
Many regular travellers prefer to stay with a particular brand, say Starwood’s Le Meridien, and are members of the company’s overall loyalty program. Starwood’s loyalty scheme is known to be more generous than Marriott’s, according to the BBC, and members are concerned their privileges may be watered down after the merger.
The good news is that most if not all of the brands in a combined Marriot-Starwood are likely to remain; multi-brand strategies provide a variety of different brands for different customers. Also, 2017-18 is the earliest that any substantive changes to the loyalty programs would happen.
Pros of the merger for loyal Starwood customers include the chance to redeem and earn points at more than 4,400 Marriott properties.
However, cons include the possible devaluation of Starwood points’ “purchasing power” for hotel stays, the removal of generous transfer options to over 30 airline frequent flyer programs, and less pricing competition in locations where Marriott and Starwood properties are located close to each other.
The advice offered in a report by the BBC is that “if you are planning a trip and can redeem Starwood points for at least 2 cents per point compared with paying cash, go ahead and use those points”. It adds that “hotel mergers can often be complicated and unpredictable, so it’s best to keep in mind that SPG points (like most hotel points), will continue to devalue over time”.


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