Since this post has a limited shelf life, I'll toss it back on top.
Jim Cramer just nailed it when comparing Starwood's stock price movement (flat) to Marriott's (rising) stating, "Arne Sorenson knows how to unlock value" - and as a shareholder I'd have to agree that at least for the time being, that's dead on accurate. With the success of acquistions, new development, and the apparent seeds of economic recovery momentum, Marriott currently has all the cards stacked in their favor. As Norm of Cheers might say, "it's a dog eat dog world and Marriott Rewards members are wearing Dogbone shorts".
This could be a tough stretch for the travelers for the next 2-3 years. It makes me feel fortunate that as a 'guerilla' lodger I can pick and choose where to go and stay based on deals, like my pick of the brand new SpringHill Suites in Midtown/5th Ave. for my annual Broadway getaway. 1/5/14 $151 AAA $159 regular, but note: this property has Studio, Jr. Suite, and Exec. Suite rooms; is this NYC specific or the future? Also the new 48th Ave. Residence Inn studio is 200 sq. ft vs. the 6th Ave. Residence Inn studio weighing in at 320 sq. ft, ouch.
Someone else has commented about Makers Mark consumers getting them to "Change their minds". Most recently, Delta had to do the same thing. They "Raised fares, and other airlines did not follow". They "Backed off", and lowered their fares.
We will have to see what will happen with Marriott.
I certainly did. I also noticed how he virtually drooled over the four million (and growing) Chinese rewards members. With over forty milllion rewards members (I say with somewhat begrudging credit) and the Chinese just starting to play, it provides a better understanding of Marriott's actions of battening down the hatches before this animal really whirls out of control. We've become a bit like Little Leaguers, we're all special and our cards/status are our trophies. And yes, ol' Simon (who I believe was put up to the question by other on air talent, who are Marriott customers and have referenced it before) gave Arne the willies with his question. When it comes to the squeezing of bennies, Marriott execs are like Sgt. Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, "I know nothing! Nothing!".
It appears jerry, that unfortunately for us, Marriott is the leader of the pack when it comes to these pricing decisions and other chains are falling in line, providing less leverage for us. Oh well, with the aggressive devaluation of points, the Friends and Family rate, which does not earn points, becomes more and more attractive (which of course, moves it to number one with a bullet on the hit parade).