Remember When Marriott-SPG was the Loyalty Program Merger Done Right?

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Marriott Bonvoy the purposeless name launched on February 13, 2019, following the launch of the Marriott-SPG-Ritz-Carlton ‘unified loyalty program’ itself on August 18, 2018.

Marriott Bonvoy launch

The issues have mounted in the face of tone-deaf, absentee CEO Arne ‘Noise around the edges’ Sorenson. No one with the last name Marriott has spoken up.

Marriott had the leisure of time to pick how and when it integrated its loyalty programs. We ended up with a multi-stage rollout accompanied by a near collapse in customer servce. How did this go so wrong?

The First Date was Dreamy

Recall September 22, 2016 when the Marriott-SPG merger closed. The same day accounts could be linked, status reciprocally matched, and points transferred at a fair rate.

Marriott-SPG was rightly praised by travelers and industry observers for (1) being prepared, (2) customer focused, and (3) delivering. What some companies call ‘surprise and delight’ customer service:

Marriott’s deal to acquire Starwood has closed. And they’re seriously ahead of the curve with member benefits…

No program has ever set up a mechanism to link accounts this quickly. Delta and Northwest did it, and America West and US Airways did it, but some time into their merger. They got all of the work done before the deal closed, and were ready to pull the trigger…

On the one hand, it’s impressive they’re ready with the technology on day 1 to link accounts, that shows the IT work is well underway. On the other hand, closing is happening later than anticipated thanks to extended regulatory review, an 18 month project starting now wouldn’t be ready to combine programs for the start of the 2018 program year. There’s too much to do to more than project right now.

There is a book and a TV movie to be written how we got from there to here.

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Shannon

Marriott must be the most hot topic of the world.