Marriott today announced much of the combined loyalty program of Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG.
Taking effect August 1, 2018, the program still lacks a name. Award charts were announced though what properties will be in each of the 8 categories is forthcoming. Other than that, the amount of detail in the announcements is impressive as corporate announcements go.
Early reactions on miles and points blogs range from positive to neutral ‘wait and see’, not too negative, with relief that changes could have been worse. Reader comments on these blogs skew less positive, as is to be expected. That speaks well to a program that is broadly well conceived. There will always be gaps like treatment of SPG lifetime 750 night people.
The new program’s focus is designed to reward actually loyal customers, with incentives at the highest spend levels without eliminating value down through the annual nights chain. An explicit spend target is only introduced at the 100+ nights level, $20,000 to unlock Ambassador service and Your24TM anytime check-in/check-out benefit.
Marriott is not trying to reward several profiles of miles and points travelers. Here’s some who lose out:
None of the credit cards will directly award Platinum status for having the card. The upcoming $450 annual fee Amex SPG Luxury Card will require $75,000 annual spend for Platinum, similar to the Chase Ritz-Carlton card.
Several cards will offer Gold status, presumably the Amex Platinum will continue to do so as well. That is now a no breakfast status across Marriott, closing the backdoor that cards offering SPG Gold (no breakfast) match to Marriott Gold (breakfast).
None of the credit cards will earn more than the 2 points per dollar on everyday spend. (Each card has its own bonuses for Marriott stays and certain spend categories.)
The long-running Amex SPG cards current earn 1 SPG point per dollar that has transferred to 3 Marriott points. Dropping earn under the new program’s 3 points down to 2 points per dollar makes these cards uncompetitive for much spend.
If you’ve had the SPG card top of wallet for years, consider taking it out. Have a hard look to see if the benefits justify the annual fee. These cards will award Silver status instead of elite stay/night credits, so the only reason to have both will be for the new annual free night certificates (good up to 35,000 points/night). The business card loses Sheraton lounge access.
United Gold, Platinum, and 1K flyers get complimentary Marriott Gold status, which is worth a lot less in the new program.
I’ve been on the fence about re-upping United Gold next year and either dropping Star Alliance Gold status altogether or moving to a program like Asiana Club. This pushes me farther that way.
(updated) Delta Crossover Rewards runs through July 15, 2018 as is. A subsequent announcement will be made on its future.
Emirates Your World Rewards and China Eastern Eastern Explorer continue, though registration will temporarily close July 15, 2018 to resume at a later date. Details to be announced later.
The new Marriott program looks to be a good balance of incentives and rewards for the customers they want, those paying to sleep in their beds.
For me, I did not care all that much about hotel loyalty programs even when I was a corporate road warrior. I seldom even register for quarterly promotions anymore, except for IHG gameified ones to see what is my offer.
I’ll take exactly as much hotel status as it takes no more work than registering for a promotion or holding a credit card. Status without breakfast or lounge is non-status for me.
With the SPG credit cards devalued I won’t be earning points in the program. Delta Crossover Rewards going away will end my trickle of incidental SPG points. With my United status awarding a now-devalued Marriott Gold, I won’t value that.
I book accommodation at places I want to stay and prices I am willing to pay. I wasn’t giving Marriott-SPG much business under the old programs and now it will be that bit more less.
For those who do frequent Marriott and SPG properties, the program seems a pretty good deal and I applaud Marriott’s management for thinking this through, and even solving pain points for their customers such as finally introducing a breakfast benefit at Courtyard (and AC Hotels, Moxy, and Protea).