Several months ago, Marriott launched a takeover bid for Starwood. The intervening months have seen a bit of a corporate saga, with alternate bids from Chinese insurer Anbang being received. This has now all been resolved with the merger of the two companies now having received stockholder support. As a result, the first details of the Starwood Integration into Marriott have been advised.
So it is now official – Starwood and Marriott will merge to form a single company. From a timeline point of view, the deal is expected to close mid-year.
From the customer point of view, there is probably more interest in what is going to happen to the loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards in the case of Marriott, and Starwood Preferred Guest in the case of Starwood.
On this matter, SPG have made the following announcement to members::
Since the original announcement, our members have asked many questions about the future of Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®). Soon we will begin the long journey to integrate the very best of SPG and Marriott Rewards®. Through this process, your perspective will help guide these discussions as we consider the following:
- How do we continue to deliver the unique experiences, benefits and rewards you’ve come to expect both in and out of our hotels and resorts?
- How do we take full advantage of the extraordinary new range of hotels, resorts and destinations that will be the hallmark of a combined Starwood and Marriott to add new recognition and benefits for you?
- How do we protect the value of your currency and status, whether your Starpoints® balance, lifetime status or membership level?
Getting answers to these complicated, important questions will take time. In fact, we don’t anticipate launching a newly combined program until 2018. This means SPG will continue to run separately until then. In the meantime, we’re actively exploring ways to build bridges between the two programs to further enhance your experience.
On the Marriott side, and email to members said the following:
The good news is that we have many possibilities ahead of us because Marriott and Starwood both have great loyalty programs. We intend to draw upon the very best of both Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) to provide even more value to our members.
So, at the moment, the expect to launch a new combined program until 2018, although one can’t tell from the quotes exactly what the new program looked like.
Generally, many people find the SPG program to be better for customers than the Marriott program, and there are concerns about what the merger may mean, sepecially if the the new program is more like the Marriott program than the Starwood program.
There is some particular relevance for Australia. While globally, Marriott has a larger footprint than Starwood, in Australia, Starwood has a far greater number of hotels.
The statements from the two companies would suggest that the possibiltiy of a new program is on the table, rather than merging the members of one into the other. Time will tell which way the integration teams go with this.