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The big day for Marriott’s long-planned integration of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred came on August 18, 2018.
Things are far from seamless. Systems continue to have outages. Account information is wrong for many. Functionality continues to be missing, with timelines of days, weeks, or months to be resolved. The program won’t even have its new, official name until 2019.
This is a huge task, though one that should not be unmanageable. Marriott has the resources and gave itself time of its own choosing.
How We See Things
We points travelers tend to think of airlines and hotels as two pillars:
- The loyalty program
- The rest
We make our travel decisions as a weighting of the two, where the loyalty program may outweigh everything else.
How They See Things
These companies think very differently. Loyalty programs are part of their marketing offer, and are often money-markers, but are far down the org chart.
As I wrote about for American Airlines, I am not aware of any airline or hotel where the loyalty program head directly reports to the CEO.
Marriott lists 21 members of its Executive Leadership. No Marriott Rewards.
Best I can piece together from public sources:
- David Flueck, Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty reports to
- Karin Timpone, Global Marketing Officer reports to
- Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer reports to
- Arne M. Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer
‘Quit Gnashing Teeth’
I’ve heard Mr. Flueck speak at a conference. He is an impressive thinker. I have no reason to think any different of Ms. Timpone and Ms. Lizzartz.
The fact of big corporations is that 3 steps removed from the CEO is a big distance. Expecting the CEO to be in the war room issues orders for the program integration is not how they see things. ‘Quit gnashing teeth’ is a solid admonition because you care a lot more than they do.
The timing of ending the phone hotline for Mr. Marriott’s Office of Consumer Affairs is suggestive.
Focus energy on feedback to areas where you feel they’ve gotten policy wrong. I’ve done that on the Travel Packages. Or, where immediate travel plans are negatively impacted.
Realize that everything needs to go up the chain of command and back down. The Monday partial walk back of the Saturday Travel Packages announcement is fast in a big corporation. The gatekeepers of these executives may have already said that anything integration related can wait till Monday.
We may not like the speed of things. This is the reality we deal with. Focus on them getting things right more than doing things fast.
The IT stuff that, if not fixed today, will be fixed tomorrow, or the day after, or the week after…I’m not getting bent out of shape. Though I do notice that the Chief Information Officer does report to the CEO. They might be having some meetings this week.