There’s been a lot of buzz around Marriott’s loyalty program integration lately, but it seems like an announcement is coming sooner than we thought. In fact, it appears as if the new Marriott Rewards is coming on Monday.
Ever since Marriott announced its acquisition of Starwood, there has been a lot of speculation and apprehension as to what the combined loyalty program will look like. Starwood loyalist, in particular, are concerned that the hospitality giant will gut their beloved program. But, recent rumors have been somewhat reassuring in that regard. After all, if the rumors are true, Marriott will be keeping all of Starwood Preferred Guest’s current elite tiers. However, the rumors leave MANY questions unanswered, though it looks like we won’t have to wait long for answers to those questions.
Don’t Miss What’s Next
I’m not sure how I missed this. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been on Facebook much? But it appears that Marriott will be making a major announcement regarding loyalty program integration on Monday, April 16, 2018. Few details on the announcement are available. However, we know the announcement will take in New York and will be live streamed on Facebook. The announcement will take place at 4:30 p.m. ET, 10:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time.
Implications for Me
Details on the program integration are something many of us have been waiting for for years. And, though I’m on the Marriott side of the program, I have a lot of apprehension going into this change. Why? Because I’m nearing some major milestones in the program. As a seven-year member that travels infrequently, I’ve been able to amass 375 lifetime nights via stays and credit card spend. And in that time, I’ve accumulated a total of 1,043,000 lifetime points. What this all means for me is that I’m set to earn Lifetime Silver Elite status (lol) very soon. And at an average of 50 nights per year, I should be able to achieve Lifetime Gold Elite in the next few years as well.
Of course, those thresholds could change in the combined program. And that would suck big time for me, especially since I’m so close! What’s more, my strategy does rely quite a bit on earning EQNs through credit card spend and other opportunities. So if those options change or go away, well things could get a lot harder for me. At that point, I may even need to walk away from elite status, depending on how the new credit cards look. But, those credit cards may or may not be part of the discussion either, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
The New Marriott Rewards is Coming on Monday, Final Thoughts
Finally getting insight into what the future of Marriott’s loyalty program will look like is exciting. However, the program integration, as I’ve said many times before, is a great source of anxiety. It all but guaranteed, after all, that the new program will have built-in devaluations; especially since Arne Sorenson himself has stated that a goal of the new program is to reduce program-related costs for hotel owners. But Team Arne also acknowledge the importance and the concerns of SPG members. So seeing how all of these concerns are balanced will be very interesting.
But my primary concerns heading into this are surrounding elite member benefits and lifetime qualification. It would be great to see my current benefits as a Marriott Rewards Gold Elite (lounge access, etc.) preserved under the new program as a Platinum. Further, I’m hoping that lifetime qualifications remain similar so I can remain on-track to earning those statuses. I’ve got my fingers crossed, but I’m not holding my breath. As we’ve all learned from all the airline mergers, it’s best to hope for the best but expect the worst.
I have a feeling I will be disappointed in the changes in that it will make it harder for those mid level travelers (like myself) to climb up the ladder.
Too bad they measure loyalty by the $ and not what is in our hearts! XD
I have been waiting with patient expectation for the new cards to come out. I have put on hold getting the Amex Plat card just to see what the Marriott Amex will offer.
You are so close! I hope this change doesn’t hurt your track record. I’ll be watching Monday! Thanks for the info!
Island Miler says
lol! Right, SeaTexan? If only! Same here. I’ve suspended all new card acquisitions until we learn more about the new Marriott cards. And thanks! I hope this doesn’t do too much damage to my qualifications either. It would be a total gut-punch if it does. Fingers crossed!
“50 years per night” too funny typo. Maybe you are thinking of Wyndham and how those nights feel :)
Also you stay infrequent but in 7 years you have 375 nights. That doesn’t seem all that infrequent to me.
I’m worried that the program will devalue overall. I’m also wondering how the United Silver benefit will be effected. I’m close to that after moving my 100+ nights a year from IHG to Marriott this year. I should have known better.
Island Miler says
Hah! Thanks for catching that, DaninMCI. You know, never stayed at a Wyndham, but a night at the Maui Seaside certainly feels like 50 years. Never again, though that wasn’t my choice either…
Anyway, I’d say a huge chunk of those 375 nights came from credit card spend and the annual credit card bonus. I dump all the reimbursable expenses on that card, so that’s how I’m able to maintain status. In reality, I probably spend about 10 to 15 nights per year in a hotel.
I’m thinking the United Silver benefit should be safe for you, especially since with 100+ nights a year, you’ll easily be a Platinum Premier in the new program. But I’d expect a devaluation, as Arne says the new program will bring cost savings for hotel owners too.
Like you I am close to qualifying as a lifetime Marriott Gold. I am a leisure traveler and credit card holder as well, consequently it has been a long process. Monday will be the day of enlightenment and we will know where we stand. If the new program negates my loyalty, I will become a “hotel free agent”. I became an “airline free agent” a number of years ago due to negative program changes and I have no regrets.
Island Miler says
Same here, gm1. I was very loyal to American until DP and crew took over. Now I’ll more or less fly anyone, though I try to stick with Alaska or Hawaiian. Likewise, if Marriott’s new program isn’t to my liking, I won’t automatically give them my business anymore. I would, however, like to try to remain with a single program. My backup was supposed to be Hyatt, but then World of Hyatt… And we all know how that went. If anything, my backup will likely be Hilton at this point.
Kevin B says
4:30pm Monday, huh? Right after the market closes. Can’t be good or they would announce while the market was open.
Island Miler says
An excellent point, Kevin!
I for one am on the optimistic side. Seeing as i was one of the people who used points to buy back platinum status, and this year i dropped to gold i want to get the status back.
I hope the Amex card will be just like the Hilton card, i have the Ritz Carlton card but will drop it and get the PREMIUM marriott card granted i had hoped that Ritz would be the NEW high level card so i wouldnt lose the NEW yatching boats that Ritz has for next summer.
Ill be happy to pay for top tier status 350 to 450 will be more than worth it for me and my family.
Island Miler says
I’ve thought of using points to buy back Platinum in the past, however, doing so deducts those points from your Lifetime Elite totals too. And the points are really the only portion of the qualification holding me back right now. I too hope the new cards will be similar to the new Hilton ones, but we’ll see. The Ritz-Carlton is somewhat lackluster nowadays, especially given its annual fee. But the credit card is the only part of all of this in which I’m a little optimistic.
I too think the credit card will be a big factor in retaining loyalty. I have the new Hilton Aspire card and consider it one of my most beneficial cards, especially since it gives me automatic Diamond status, to say nothing of the $250 airline rebate program, and a free weekend night at any category level hotel. The $450 annual fee more than pays for itself. The annual night alone can be used in the Maldives or Koh Samui where rates top $500 a night. Combine that with a 5th night free award and you are literally saving almost $2000. If Marriott comes out with a card like that, I am hopping onto the application in no time. These premium cards come in handy in so many ways. We’ll know tomorrow at 4:30 pm.
Island Miler says
That’s the hope! But we shall see.