I've subscribed to a new travel e-site and it posed this question I've now been asking of Marriott (answered) and Delta (probably soon to be answered) about whether loyalty is warranted. I want to emphasize I got a great deal from Marriott until things changed, and will be staying at a Marriott in Naples, Italy for revenue and one free in Rome at the end of August for the first time since the Venice airport last January. But I am still waiting to hear from Richard Anderson and Ken Chenault of Delta and Amex about my recent problems, so this struck home. The site is a very useful one (or maybe it just validates the opinions one already has.)
I agree with the article 100%! Thankfully, I have a second option in Hawaiian Air, even though AA hasn't ruined its program yet... It's coming, but not till next year. But with that, HA's program isn't as robust as AA, UA, or DL. And the lack of a global alliance can make things more difficult, though they do partner with EK now.
Marriott has become a major love/hate relationship for me. I love Marriott, but the constant devaluation and inconsistent Elite benefits drive me nuts. Add to that the issue with the usability of the Cat 1-5 certs, and I'm almost ready to jump ship. At what point will my love for Marriott lose to my frustration with them? I'm not sure yet.
This situation can be a boon for credit card issuers like Chase and Amex though. With their loyalty-less programs, you can stay/travel with any of their partners, while not having to worry about which card to use for what like I'm sure most of us do with our Marriott and airline cards. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the future for sure, but it seems like loyalty programs are on the way out or will cater to those that are wealthy, but not wealthy enough to fly private jets.
I think airlines and hotels loyalty programs will both go towards parity. To me when you look at three major airlines AA/ United and Delta where you can go almost any where domestic and international to me that sets them up as an oligopoly and their FF programs will be very close in parity each will have nuances but overall the same. If you don't need the breath you will then go with SW and many others. the same is true with Hotels. Marriott / Hilton and maybe Starwood and Hyatt will have domestic and international breath and will operate like an oligopoly and their FF programs will also be close in make up with some pluses and minuses . So one can chose to jump from one to another and then back due to changes each will continue to make but over time there wont be a lot of difference. Just one person's opinion . Kind of like putting four gas stations on a corner they all will have the same prices
Actually, one of the reasons I mostly jumped ship from Marriott went beyond the changes to the loyalty program. There simply weren't Marriotts in the places in Europe where I was traveling. With the loss of the Ledra, there are none at all in Greece, and few outside the major cities in France or Italy, though now they have the AC brand -- and in that case, I would usually rather stay at hotels I find via tripadvisor. Marriotts have a much bigger UK presence than on the continent.
To be frank airlines loyalty programs are well being for travellers who flies more often. Its not beneficial for occasionally travelling people. Reward programs are really great way to motivate the people to stay, but when it comes to mileage plan, it will take long time to become loyal. However I glad enjoyed the loyalty program for my business and enhanced the sales with loyal customers.
I believe the loyalty programs are very beneficial once you are at the top tier of the either the airline or hotel program. The airline programs are much harder to redeem points for, I agreee, but I get the benefits out of a platinum security line and getting on the plane first so I don't have to play tetris to get my carry on in the overhead bin. It has gotten harder to get upgrades on popular routes, but I feel airlines have compensated for this with their "coach plus" seating. With loyality I get these seats free and also a checked bag or 2 which could mean a $50 savings per flight.
I am more loyal to hotel over the airline because in most cases (at least in the US), there are a number of hotels at the same level and price within the same area. That is where the loyalty program comes in so I can get something extra out of the purchase. For airlines, I am first loyal to the company that has their hub out of my airport because they are usually cheaper and less stops than another brand. I do agree with jerryl that over time the hotels and airline programs from the major chains have little difference between them.