As we approach the 2017 calendar year, which earns toward 2018 status and is when the MR/SPG programs may merge (quoted as the earliest - assumed though for this point), how does this impact your plans January 1st 2017 and beyond?
If the programs merge in 2018, it would seem that the various levels of 2018 would take into account both MR and SPG stays of 2017. This leads me to plan on staying at the best MR or SPG hotels in 2017 (despite being a Platinum Premier).
seachi, I think there will be a number of schools of thought on this, however, one key consideration that continues to come up is "lifetime status." If you are in pursuit of "lifetime," all the FAQ guidance advises you to continue that pursuit in your current program, be it Marriott or SPG. So, if you are nearing a lifetime milestone, getting that accomplished in 2017 is likely a very important variable in strategically determining where you should spend your nights.
The FAQ guidance not only encourages the continued pursuit of lifetime status, but also suggests that they will work to recognize that lifetime status after the program merges. This has real value, and appears to be worth reading between the lines.
If you already have lifetime platinum status, or the highest level you can conceivably reach before the programs merge, then I think all bets are off. Stay where you like, and experiment with brands across the aisle as often as you can. As long as you have status sewn up "in your program" for 2018, I have to think you are in great shape. I wouldn't, however, get too frisky and bet that they will combine both program nights to award status. I think you want to solidify status in one program or the other, and then explore to your heart's content.
My two cents,
I'm with you on this Nationwide; I achieved Lifetime Gold a few weeks back (currently Platinum and have already hit my needed nights to retain for 2017). I will be about 80 nights shy at end of this year from hitting 750 nights and I will be just over 1.7M points. Nights should not be an issue in 2017 to hit the 750 - its the 2 million points that I may be shy of achieving.... I am hoping for some bonus point opportunities to put me over the top so that I am Lifetime Platinum at the end of 2017 - this should put me in a good spot whatever may come of the new program under the New Marriott/SPG empire!!!
Good Luck to All striving for Lifetime Gold or Platinum Status!!!!
If you are lifetime platinum you are free to stay at both, as nights don't matter.
A big factor for those of us who have yet to achieve lifetime platinum (or lifetime anything, really), is whether or not Marriott will change the lifetime scheme. I feel that if they do (up the anty), then I need to get to lifetime gold as fast as possible (with only 430 nights, there is no way for me to achieve lifetime platinum prior to the 2018 merge). The best way for me to get to lifetime gold by the end of 2017 is to take advantage of rollover nights. As a result, I intend to be very careful to NOT reach platinum by the end of this year (currently at 69 nights), so that I can rollover about 20 nights for next year. This will set me up nicely for 1) qualifying for platinum sometime in 2017 and 2) qualifying for lifetime gold sometime in 2017 as well. This way, I'll at least be platinum when the rewards program merge strikes and also lifetime gold, with the thought that Marriott would not take away any lifetime status already achieved (though they may increase the requirements for those who haven't achieved it.) Hedge, hedge, hedge. Also, no SPG nights for me until after the merge. Need those lifetime nights, and SPG nights don't count towards MR lifetime status at least not prior to the merge.
It depends on where you are at in the lifetime scheme. If you are within range of achieving a lifetime threshhold (lifetime gold or lifetime platinum status in the Marriott Rewards program) prior to the merge in 2018, the rollover nights may help you achieve that milestone prior to the merge. Achieving that milestone prior to the merge may be beneficial in the long term IF Marriott decides to increase the lifetime requirements when the merge happens (get it before the requirements go up, IF they go up. This is what I am hedging.) If you have no concerns about achieving a lifetime threshhold prior to the merge, then of course, go for qualifying for platinum for next year.
One wild card that is yet unknown when the Marriott and SPG rewards programs are merged in 2018, is whether Marriott will retain and or enhance "tiered" platinum levels that presently exist under SPG. It is hard to believe that Marriott would do away with this and upset many SPG loyalists. Marriott already has "platinum premier" which is pretty toothless as presently configured. This could be a great opportunity for Marriott to develop a tiered platinum program incorporating SPG's features along with platinum premier. These levels could provide the personal concierge service and other high end benefits, perhaps tied to their "luxury" brands that they want to continue to expand and become the dominant worldwide player in. Who knows what level of elite nights it would take to achieve the various tiers, but my guess is that if you can qualify for platinum premier then you should be in good shape. As such, even though I have LTP I am still going to concentrate the majority of my nights with Marriott in order to maintain platinum premier status just in case Marriott has something in store for us at the end of the rainbow!
I think my strategy is that I don't have a strategy.
Well, not entirely true. But since little is known about what waits for us in 2018, my plan is just to continue to spend my nights in Marriott properties until I know what is happening. I have to maximise points opportunities in order to close in on my LTP goals next year, and that is where my challenge will be. I think we are all concerned about whatever changes may be afoot vis a vis LT, particularly those of us who are close but not a confirmed kill. Points, points, points.
With the schemes likely merging sometime in 2018 it's 2017 that is the crucial year for Marriott and SPG loyalists.
The basic strategy should be to stretch every sinew to achieve the highest "metal" level you can.
Lessons so far are that Marriott doesn't distinguish between SPG Gold (as few as 10 stays) and Marriott Gold (50 nights) nor between SPG basic Plat (as few as 25 stays) and Marriott Plat (75 nights). Don't forget that although SPG Plat looks easier to attain than Marriott Gold, SPGs footprint in USA is far smaller.
For those big dogs out there 100 nights may be the tripping point into a new top status so pure speculation suggests if you can make that in one scheme, it may be advantageous to make it.
For those close to Lifetime Gold or Plat, I strongly expect some tightening on those provisions, Marriotts lifetime is the easiest to achieve already and it's about to add 25% more rooms to its inventory. The simplest tightening will be to keep the points and nights requirements and rules the same, but to add in the Starwood rule of 10 years at that status. More complex for data purposes would be to restrict points and/or nights counted for lifetime to those actually earned from stays. Whatever the outcome here I do expect Marriott will grandfather those already at lifetime in their respective scheme to the same level in the new one, so if Lifetime Gold or Plat in either program is in view, 2017 is the time to stretch to get there...
Employing a very aggressive stay pattern in 2017 & 2018 (100 nights - all leisure, including c/c nights + 25 rollover, which I am in fact intending to do), I would anticipate reaching lifetime platinum by mid 2019 or 2.5 years from now (I am currently at 1.85 million points, 439 nights). If Marriott decides to increase the LTP requirement to 10 years as platinum, that would mean an additional 7.5 years added on for me, even though I will have already met the lifetime platinum nights and points threshhold. That would be pretty harsh!!! At 75 nights/year requirement to maintain platinum, that would in essence be saying that I would have to reach 1,275 nights to attain lifetime platinum (750 nights by mid 2019 + 525 more nights (7 more years at platinum * 75 nights/year)). Ouch! In that case, and despite the fact that I have already been an aggressive Marriott loyalist for the past 6 years - and have the nights and points to bear that out, I may as well be starting from scratch (which I could instead choose to do with a competitor?) I would really be screwed if Marriott imposed the 10 years at plat rule.
I am going to be an optimist in this. I do not see that it is in the company's interest to tighten on status requirements, when they have been loosening for the last several years. The harsh reality is the company's actual cost of giving us platinum is really very little. We get a few extra points, to use for rooms that would be otherwise unoccupied, we get a breakfast either in the lounge or in the dining room, when at full service hotels but that actual cost is low.
Look at the last few weeks as people scurried to get in under the line by staying nights just for the sake of getting status. That is real money to their bottom line. i can count half a dozen on here on insiders who stated they took an extra night or two to retain status. Considering that a very small percentage of golds or plats use this sight i would think that there were hundreds of nights sold just to people getting in under the line.
Where we may see some change is the continued gradual chipping away at services, for example we are seeing lounges close in the UK. Standardizing benefit across the fleet without actually changing anything in the TOCs could be a huge service reduction. Look at the lavish treatment we get in Europe in lounges compared to North America.(Beautiful pastry chef cakes and sparkling wine for desert in Europe vs something cut up from the freezer at the piggly wiggly and 24 for 1.99 bottled water in the states)
I think we will see a lot of grandfathers in the upcoming two years. My bet would be lowest common denominator not highest.
I tend to agree peymanagement. I suspect Marriott guests on the track to lifetime status will see few, if any, changes. I will be curious to see how lifetime SPG nights and points carry over (not that I have any). Currently points can be transferred between the programs but such transfers do not count toward lifetime status. It would seem that if the SPG program is merged into MR, that will have to change or folks nearing LT status in SPG would have to start over. That doesn't seem likely. Perhaps nights transfer 1:1, points at 3:1 and the 10 year Platinum rule is dropped. I suppose it could be something else. We shall see.
It's possible the current MR requirements could change. Count me as another optimist who thinks that's probably not going happen.
Thank you both for weighing in. I hope you are both right, though still, I am not willing to rack up any SPG nights (unless necessary or sensible) until after the merge. (And I hope you are happily wrong, Pey, about the reduction of services, though you've pretty much highlighted the writing on the wall - to wit, the latest coffee survey and the fact that there are only so many upgraded rooms available for X number of elites.) I imagine like in the past, there will be welcome reveals as well as unwelcome ones.
I with you pluto77 on not collecting any SPG nights until after the merge. My upcoming travels will likely only include SPG brands if I can't find a Marriott in the area.
With only ~350 lifetime nights and ~1M lifetime points, I need all my stays to count toward lifetime status. Even then, it will take me at least three more years to get to LTP (and that's if I keep up the pace I've been on these last couple years). Given that virtually all my travel is leisure, that will not be an easy thing to do.
Agreed. I have been SPG diamond through American Express and Hilton diamond on match for two years and have a total stay of 1 at both. My loyalty is because i like Marriott. I am at 392 on the stay clock and probably will not achieve any meaningful lifetime status for several years.
Very excellent remarks by both brightlybob and nationwide so I have very little to add other than my opinion on merging of LT status - - I suspect these will always stay independent and must be earned in each program separately. It would be cost-prohibitive to suddenly generate millions of LTs across both programs by doing a "match" especially considering the lost revenues under the auspices of "once LT is achieved, try other brands that have an LT status to pursue" which may/may not include either SPG or MR, Hyatt for example.
Hmmm well if you are LT at Marriott, your status at SPG will always be whatever LT (silver, gold, plat) you are with Marriott if they keep status matching. You will forever be LTP with SPG, if you are with Marriott. So I feel like they have already somewhat given that LT match. SPG works it a bit diff with the whole tier thing though. I am not sure how that will factor in.
SeaTexan - good point on LT match as it exists today, but I have a funny feeling that this match was only for the acquisition period to keep current members smiling.
The programs are going to merge... SPG will be POOF! Do you think they are going to make all those SPG LT people have to redo LT? :S That would be pretty terrible. Or are you saying the programs won't be merging?
All those not LTP, just reg plat with SPG are going to drop down to gold if they don't get the required nights (just like everyone else). There is no dropping down with LT. Status match won't be a thing after the programs merge (unless I have totally missed something and the programs won't be merging). There will be no matching, you just are what you are at that point in time. At least this is what I *think* will happen.
I am very interested to see if they change the night requirements in general for reaching yearly status. If not, then SPG people will need to up their night game.
That's about where I am too, droma. I'll begin 2017 with about 350 lifetime nights and just over 1M lifetime points. Lifetime Silver is almost certainly a lock for next year (but since I have the MR credit card, that doesn't really mean anything to me).
Assuming the criteria don't change, Lifetime Gold is reachable by the end of 2018 or shortly thereafter (depending on how long it takes me to amass the required 1.6M points).
Another thing Marriott could do is to add one or more new higher levels above Platinum...Perhaps Platinum Premier with some real benefits, Platinum Plus, etc. These new levels would then have some new higher qualifying criteria that would apply to everyone in the 2018 merged programs. These new levels could contain many of the things we have been writing about for some time now such as: waived resort fees, free parking, special invitations to new hotel grand openings, special room discounts, free entry into the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, etc. Creating a new higher level to strive for gives LTPs another reason to keep using Marriott rather than bailing out to another brand.
I would not be surprised at another level; American Airlines is doing that next year which will water-down my Platinum status. It will be interesting to see how many upgrades to 1st class I get in 2017 - in 2016 I have had about 65% success- my guess is it will drop well below 50%.....
I will hit lifetime gold this week and hope to hit LP by the end of 2017. That being said, I really hope the merger dos not change what benefits we do receive. There are places I travel where there are no Marriott properties. I have not looked to see if there are any Starwood properties around. I do hope we see automatic status match though.
The merger with Delta already caused a lot of criticism: the Delta Privileges program was completely shut down with a short period in the freezer to finish up points, but nothing was merged towards MR in terms of points. I do think some elite nights were merged (otherwise I don't know how I made 4 MR elite nights in 2015).
Especially with a huge program like SPG, I'm pretty sure Marriott doesn't want to take too many chances offending loyal clients. Otherwise it was a wasted 13,6 billion$ towards ~1200 properties where loyal clients don't want to return.
I agree with the majority of the comments made. However, I would not be surprised to see Marriott add at least one more level above the existing 75 night platinum level and the 750 night/$2 million point LTP. Perhaps it would be Platinum Premier at 100 or 125 nights, and Life time Platinum Premier at 1,000 nights with $3 million in points and perhaps some minimum number of years of Platinum status. They would then have to confer some real benefits at this level to make loyal travelers want to stretch for this new goal. There have been other threads regarding added benefits people would like to see such as free parking, waived resort fees, etc, etc. Some of these could be incorporated into the Platinum Premier level. Perhaps the bonus points for each stay could be 75% rather than the existing 50% for platinum. How about exclusive invitations to new hotel openings as an added perk. Marriott has a lot to think about over the next 12 months!
While I like this idea overall, I wonder whether they would count nights and spend and so on from each program for the total? I am currently lifetime plt at Marriott, and lifetime gold at SPG with over 500 nights and 9 years as plt at SPG. I am focusing on getting one more year of PLT at SPG to have lifetime PLT at both, though I am not sure that is really worth anything moving forward.