Last week I outlined some quick facts regarding the Marriott and Starwood merger. We knew the merge was set to happen at some point in August. Today, Marriott gave us an official date.

HOTEL MARQUÉS DE RISCAL, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL

On August 18 a new era will begin for the 110 million members of Marriott International’s award-winning loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). For the first time since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, the programs will operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency spanning the entire loyalty portfolio of 29 brands and more than 6,500 participating hotels in 127 countries.

On August 18, members can expect the following program changes:

  • Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts will be able to combine their accounts into one, creating a unified profile with one points balance (Starpoints will be multiplied by three), and Elite-Nights earned.
  • Book, earn and redeem across the portfolio of 29 participating brand, 6500 hotels in 127 countries all in one place, on any of our digital, mobile and voice reservation channels including www.Marriott.com and www.SPG.com.
  • A new SPG app will launch, mirroring the functionality of the Marriott Rewards app, including Mobile Requests.
  • Earn more points:
    • 10 points per dollar spent for stays at most properties
    • 5 points per dollar spent at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Element
    • 2.5 points per dollar spent at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay properties
  • On average members will earn 20% more points per dollar
  • Full-folio earn on room rates, restaurant and bars and qualifying incidentals charged to the room
  • SPG members will see their points balance triple
  • Achieve Elite status faster with new qualifying tiers
  • Members can enjoy new benefits and elite status levels
  • More properties to choose from to achieve status
  • New for SPG members – Silver Elite status at 10 nights
  • New for Marriott Rewards members – Gold Elite status at 25 nights and Platinum Elite status at 50 nights.
  • Combining accounts means some members will have enough nights to qualify for higher elite status.
  • Easier to redeem everywhere and for less
  • Nearly 70% of properties are getting less expensive or staying the same when redeeming points for free stays with the new award chart announced last month (52 percent of hotels will move to a lower redemption rate and only 31 percent will go higher.)
  • Members can redeem for stays using the new Free Night Award Chart
  • Category eight hotels can be booked at category seven rates throughout 2018
  • Introduction of off-peak and peak rates on top of standard in 2019 will make sought-after properties more affordable
  • No blackout dates

 

All SPG members will receive a new 9-digit account number that aligns with the specifications of the new system.  The new account number will appear through a pop-up when they log into their account. Your passwords will stay the same unless you choose to change it. Some members of Marriott Rewards will also receive a new account number. These members will receive an email with their new account information or a call from our customer engagement centers.

Expect you wont have access to any of  your Starwood or Marriott accounts on August 18

A representative from Marriott has stated

“On August 18 starting early morning (U.S. Eastern Time) our sites and apps will periodically be unavailable as we migrate our systems to one, new platform. This means during this planned system transition there will be times when no one can make a booking, and times when we will only be accepting credit card bookings. As a result of those particular instances, members will not be able to book a redemption stay or have their member number attached to their reservation.”

To help members navigate the different dates, they’ve assembled a few pro-tips:

  • Between now and August 18, members should maximize their redemption power by checking out the previously published Free Night Award Chart and deciding if they want to redeem before or after the new rates take effect.
  • Anticipate the outage on August 18 and book their stays in advance or wait until later in the day

What we learned

  • August 18th is the date.
  • SPG Credit Card benefits will change August 1 regardless of the August 18th date. 
  • They will be merging existing nights between both programs which could mean you could earn a higher status. If you have spent 12 nights in Marriott’s this year and 13 nights in Starwood properties you would now be a Gold Elite Member with 25 nights instead of a Silver member with Marriott or have no status in the SPG program.  Expect this to lead to a lot more elites and less upgrade availability across the board
  • Any status that you currently have will be valid until February 28, 2019. Status earning in 2018 will be valid until February 28, 2020. If you qualify for status with both Marriott and Starwood in 2018, you status will be valid until 2021.

What we still don’t know

  • We are still not sure how Marriott will handle existing Hotel and Air vouchers. It seems like they are being oddly quite which hopefully indicates that they plan to honor them. So make sure you purchase your package before August 18.
  • We don’t know how long the systems merge will take. Marriott has planned the outage for August 18. With a project of this scale, I would not be surprised if the outage carried past that date.
Are you planning on booking any travel before or after the merger?