An interesting article on the upcoming merger.
I don't get, nor have I ever got, SPG-ers love of their scheme. Far lower points per $ spent but only slightly lower redemption rates, large point sacrifice for breakfast and some distinctly dodgy Sheratons really confuses me. But Starwood claims SPG members book half of their revenue. The savings on OTA fees must be enormous, so it's easy to use to see why any chain would want those numbers, but for SPG membership why do they love the scheme so much?
Well, from those I know who do SPG, they say you "have to stay". They get lots of suite upgrades, hotels go above and beyond, late checkouts, real late checkouts are a breeze. They feel like the hotel REALLY wants them there. Marriott on the other hand can sometimes make you feel they're doing you a favour letting you stay. A suite upgrade (and according to many in the USA any upgrade at all) is rare and late checkout requests can be painful. Courtyards parsimonious benefits package and the "no breakfast when you really want it with your family at resorts" rule smacks of a mean spirited nickel-and-diming attitude.
A few years ago Marriott told some franchisees "not to over-achieve". It is impossible to believe any such attitude ever stalked the corridors at Starwood.
In short SPGs "special sauce" is not really in the scheme but in the attitude that percolates throughout the entire company from the chief executive at head office right down to the cleaners and checkin staff at each property. If Marriott wants SPG loyalty levels and the considerable savings it brings it needs to go back to the "spirit to serve" that founded the business but that over recent years seems to have been replaced by the corporate bean-counters searching for the next quick buck.
As always you make some very good points. I agree, SPG makes you really "earn" your points with actual "butt in bed" nights and not manufactured nights through other means. I love your statement "distinctly dodgy Sheratons" because they certainly are out there. I do really like the Westin brand myself and always check their rates if there is a location where I am going. I also want to agree with you regarding SPG not making the bottom line the absolute driver of all decisions. I also believe the no breakfast at resorts is dumb. The whole point of being a road warrior and CC spender is to earn the points to spend them on vacations with family and friends. You book a resort location and then have to pay for breakfast everyday when you really should be able to get breakfast included for all the nights you spend year after year away from family and friends.
I'm looking forward to SPG. The nice thing about the expansion is that for the most part, we won't have to visit Sharatons if we don't want (I don't really want to), but it gives us access to a whole bunch of places that will be nice for vacations and whatnot.
I agree with Ks77, I hope they can find a way to include breakfasts, especially at resorts. Many of them are isolated and far from other places, so an isolated resort that doesn't have breakfast rarely gets my business if I'm traveling with my family. I never understood the desire for breakfast until I had a family in tow. If Courtyard every changed, they'd get a ton of my business too. I like their breakfasts, I like their hotels and when they are the newer ones, I like them over the SpringHills because they don't get as many crazy kids. But, no breakfast means they lose out on about 20 nights of paid stays a year that go to SpringHills.
I agree. I happen to like most of the CY properties I have stayed at. I can't say the same is true for SHS. I am just not a big SHS fan. None were "bad" stays it's just the room layouts, with that weird partial wall "separating" the bed from the couch, the fact the TV is often on a dresser in the middle of the room that doesn't face the bed or couch, and they don't have any "suites" or upgraded rooms (at least to my knowledge). It's not meant to be a Ritz, I know that but all my SHS stays have been very lackluster. If you gave me breakfast, I would stay at CY more. On weekends CY properties are quiet and I like that.
I agree with everything you said. I became loyal to Marriott because I was treated like they really cared about me as a customer. This appreciation of loyalty has disappeared since Sorenson took over, therefore I choose hotels by value and services. SPG seems to have been practicing the old Marriott model.
I agree brightlybob, ks77! Said exactly what I was going to say before I could lol. I never understood why people were so obsessed with SPGs program. Achieving award nights is so difficult compared to Marriott. But you are right in you assessment that those that love it likely love it for the way they're treated by the properties and not the program itself.
I do know certain bloggers like Ben of One Mile at a Time love SPG points for the 20% transfer bonus when you transfer to airlines, but not all that relevant to our discussion here. At least their airline partner, DL, is better than Marriott's UA...
I think misterchk needs to join this conversation too
Monitoring the discussion kharada46 - my fear is that we are all going to "run out of gas" until we receive the first "solid" rumors (hows that for a contradiction of terms).
Another way to look at the activity of "anxiety" is a benefit - I really don't believe the surviving or "new program" will be as bad as many contributors are predicting.
Take a few deep breaths and get ready fore the real fighting and yelling to come.
SPG program sucked. Not only did I have to stay more nights at their hotels to stack up the points to be eligible for one free noght but also they have taken the points away after a few months of activity.
I became loyal to Marriott mainly because of the easy accumulation of points and ease of redeeming the points for free stay. And they do greet and treat you nicer than any other hotels I had stayed at.
Cannot *not* love Marriott
Customer loyalty programs are still probably well down the list. These companies are multi national and are going to have problems wit the local governments. I believe that they will have to operate like Carnival cruise who owns most of the cruise business but operates each independently; at least for a while. For example In Ottawa Ontario you literally have a Weston, a Marriott, a Delta and a Sheraton on four corners. There is little other show in town other than the Fairmont.
ks77 (I was hoping that "Misterchk's Psychiatry and Tropical Fish Store" can be appointed the "official" therapy center on this subject)
I predict "miles of thread" on the subject (BTW is something a "conundrum" if the elements are not yet in place?)
Therapeutic advice: (Lesson one)
1. Take deep breaths prior to turning on your computer
2. Refrain from yelling at your computer, tablet or smart phone (direct your anger to spouses and children instead)
3. To feel better imagine what it would be like to be a "copper elite" at Motel 6! (and their famous "day old muffin morning buffet"
4. STOP worrying what is going to change before it changes!!! (and when it changes don't imagine what will change about the new changes)
Whatever happens the Sun will come out tomorrow.
I actually have never looked at the SPG Elite program so this is all new to me. Been a Marriott fella since late 1989 with only a handful of stays at Hilton properties in the last two years or so.
Upgrades to Suites and resort breakfasts would be great to see come over to the Marriott side as well, but not holding my breath just yet on that happening. I'll take my coupon downstairs when the CL is closed in Marriott Hotels and deal with the resort breakfast when I'm at a resort.
As someone above mentioned, there will be "miles of thread" on this for months to come. Since we all here know just how much Marriott Corporate listens to what the loyalists here offer for suggestions, I will sit back and watch occasionally heading over to the kitchen for another glass of "meds".