Starwood / Marriott merged programme finally announced.

For many, many years I’ve been a devotee of Starwood Preferred Guest.  For their relatively small footprint, they’ve for the most part provided excellent quality hotels and great benefits.  So it was met with more than a little trepidation when Marriott announced they would be buying them.  Until today, we’ve seen very little change to either programme aside for the ability to match status and transfer points between the two.  However tonight, they announced a whole host of changes and indeed the majority of the details of the merged programme.

The 1st of August is the date the two programmes will become one, however the name for the combined programme won’t be announced until 2019.

There will be the following elite tiers:

  • Silver – 10 nights
  • Gold – 25 nights
  • Platinum – 50 nights
  • Platinum Premier – 75 nights
  • Platinum Premier (elite) – 100 nights and $20,000 spend

If you’re an existing lifetime member in either programme, those benefits will continue to be honoured.

You cannot earn status on stays any more, only on nights.

SPG will be converted over to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio.  From now on, you’ll earn 10 points per US$ spent.

Silver

There’s not a lot to be had here, other than a 10% bonus on points earning and a ‘priority late checkout’ whatever that means.

Gold

This gets you a 25% bonus on points earning and a 2pm checkout subject to availability.  There’s also a welcome gift of points, free enhanced internet, and a room upgrade, also subject to availability.

Personally speaking, as a Starwood Lifetime Gold, this is a huge devaluation as it’s down from 50% bonus on points earning and a 4pm late checkout.

Platinum

This gets you a 50% points bonus, and a confirmed 4pm late checkout guarantee.  There’s also the welcome gift of points and room upgrades including standard suites.  Lounge access is also included.  Free breakfast will also be available at 23 of the 29 combined brands in the portfolio.  The big devaluation for Starwood Platinums is Suite Night Awards drop from ten to five.

Platinum Premier

At this level, you’ll be earning a 75% bonus on stays, plus everything else you’d get for being a platinum.  There’s also a further five suite night awards being offered, taking the total earned to ten.

The devaluation here is that the Your24 benefit is being dropped.

Platinum Premier (elite)

There’s little difference to be had here from regular platinum premier, other than the Your24 benefit is re-instated, and you’ll also get a Ambassador as you would do if you’re a regular SPG100.

Redeeming Points

In total, there will be eight categories of hotels to redeem your points, and three different levels, off-peak, standard and peak.  The off-peak and peak awards won’t come into operation until 2019, along with category 8.

Category Off-Peak Standard Peak
1 5000 7500 10000
2 10000 12500 15000
3 15000 17500 20000
4 20000 25000 30000
5 30000 35000 40000
6 40000 50000 60000
7 50000 60000 70000
8 70000 85000 100000

As yet, we don’t know what category the SPG brand hotels will be in, nor do we know how frequently hotels will offer the off-peak or standard awards.  The devil will truly be in the detail here.

Thoughts

There’s a lot more detail to come over the coming days and months.  One thing that I’ve noticed is that the earning levels across the board are substantially higher than they are currently.  This cannot be sustainable.

Given the news has come out in the past few hours, I’ve not yet had the opportunity to look in detail about how redemptions stack up however given Marriott’s reputation here, I’m not optimistic, yet will suspend judgement until the details are more widely known.

I wouldn’t say that my worst fears have been realised in this combined programme, however as a loyal Starwood devotee, I do feel that the best bits and the benefits that I actually valued have been reduced.  So it’s not quite the end of the world, and I think some cool analysis is required, however on the face of it I’m not impressed.

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