Late last year Marriott surprised nearly everyone when it announced that it would acquire Starwood to become the world’s largest hotel chain. It’s not a “done deal” yet, but seems to be moving in that direction. (NOTE: Be sure to take our one-question poll below!)
Since the announcement, there has been a lot of teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing over what this will mean for members of both chains popular frequent stay programs. Marriott Rewards members generally seem okay with it, but loyal Starwood Preferred Guest members (especially elite members) are worried about erosion of the benefits they’ve come to love.
Marriott has been pretty mum on the subject, but this week its CEO Arne Sorenson told CNBC, “We’ve heard from SPG members loud and clear when they say ‘tell me I’ll be okay.” He continued: “You’ll be okay. I want to make sure we continue to earn that loyalty.” Regarding their respective loyalty programs, Sorensen told Forbes, “They are both extraordinarily powerful programs, and we will make them more powerful and relevant,” but offered few other specifics.
But…Marriott invited TravelSkills editor Chris McGinnis to a forum this week in LA to discuss what all this will mean for frequent travelers, so stay tuned for our report on that!
Anyway, the merger announcement has also prompted a lot a speculation about what Marriott is going to do with all those famous brands that Starwood has hatched over the years. Will they be absorbed by Marriott brands, or will Marriott allow them to maintain their identities as part of the Marriott family? If so, which brands survive, and which ones die? Would it make sense to combine two or three brands into one?
Overall, how do you feel about the Marriott/Starwood merger? Is it a good thing or not? Let’s ask a basic question:
Please click the clear-looking or “vote” button
To get a conversation started, here are some ideas we’ve tossed around recently among friends and and TravelSkills readers– do you agree or disagree?
Westin and Sheraton could easily become standard Marriott properties. While it might seem crazy to dump those two famous brand names, it’s difficult to see how they’d survive in the Marriott family. Could a few become JW Marriotts?
Contemporary W Hotels, on the other hand, might survive the merger, and perhaps bring in the upscale Renaissance or Le Meridien brands which have struggled to capture the hearts and minds frequent travelers.
When combining on the upper end, which brand should survive: Ritz-Carlton or St Regis? Both names are iconic, but the hotels and service are not really that much different. Would it be better to have one or two brands at the top?
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And what about all those “limited service brands” that will collide in the merger, such as Courtyard, Aloft, Residence Inn and Four Points? One Starwood survivor could be Aloft, which proved almost immediately popular and could absorb and modernize other similar Marriott brands.
And what about the handful of new brands that most travelers don’t really know yet, such as Marriott’s Moxy or AC Hotels… or Starwood’s Element or Tribute brands?
And then there’s the hotly contested question of how to combine Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest? Assuming Marriott Rewards is the surviving entity, what features of the popular SPG program should be preserved? And what about the future of the super-popular American Express/SPG credit card? Hmmm. Lot’s to think about…
How would you rearrange or recombine this “Brady Bunch” of brands? Please leave your comments below!
To help get this conversation started, here’s a list of Marriott and Starwood brands for your reference.
- AC Hotels
- Autograph Collection
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- Gaylord Hotels
- JW Marriott
- Marriott Executive Apartments
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Protea Hotels
- Residence Inn
- Towneplace Suites
- Springhill Suites
- Design Hotels
- Four Points
- Le Meridien
- St Regis
- The Luxury Collection
- Tribute Portfolio
- W Hotels
How would you rearrange or recombine this “Brady Bunch” of brands? Please leave your suggestions & comments below! We’ll share them with Marriott execs later this week.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: Should I tip my Uber driver? + Boeing 747 nearing its end? + Bargain hunters travel guide for 2016 + World’s best airline lounge? + Fares to Europe tumble