What Confuses People Most About The Marriott & Starwood Integration

Filed Under: Marriott, Starwood Preferred Guest

Marriott integrated their three loyalty programs on August 18, 2018. That means that Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest became one. Sort of.

The integration didn’t go as smoothly as many of us were hoping, and for that matter even three weeks later there are still major issues and lots of looming questions.

However, there’s one thing that seems to confuse people more than any other. The question is something along the lines of: if Marriott integrated their loyalty programs, why do they continue to use Starwood branding for the program (like with the SPG credit card, spg.com, being able to keep your SPG account, etc.) alongside of Marriott branding?

Amex even released a brand new credit card a couple of weeks ago that has SPG branding rather than Marriott branding, so why are they doing that?

The simple answer is that the programs have been integrated, but only sort of. That’s to say that as of August 18, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest aligned policies and started using the same systems. In other words, the programs were fully aligned on the back-end, while they were only partially integrated on the front-end.

For the rest of 2018, the two programs’ branding will continue to co-exist. Starwood Preferred Guest points have all been converted into points that are equivalent in value to Marriott Rewards points, even though you can technically still accrue them in the SPG program.

Are those now Starpoints, Marriott points? Starmarriottpoints? Yes, it’s confusing.

So for the remainder of 2018 the programs will continue to co-exist in terms of branding. Then around the beginning of 2019, branding will be revealed for the combined loyalty program. Since technology and everything else has already been aligned, all this means is that credit cards and websites will be rebranded.

We don’t yet know what the new program will be called. Presumably it will be called Marriott [Something].” It seems to me like they’re not keeping the Marriott Rewards name, but rather are coming up with something new. I say this because I’d assume if their intent was to keep Marriott Rewards branding they would have just said that right away.

I’m not sure if they’re thinking of coming up with a new name because they had some hot-shot consultants come up with a brilliantly creative new name like “World of Marriott,” or if they’re doing it to avoid SPG members feeling disenfranchised, thinking they’d feel more included if they were part of a new program, rather than having their program taken away in favor of Marriott Rewards.

Anyone want to guess what Marriott’s new loyalty program will be called?

  1. The total integration has been terrible. It doesn’t matter what the new program is called, I am still fuming and I really don’t know if I will get over it or not. I still have three outstanding issues on the go and it has been weeks trying to get it resolved. Their customer service agents are not empowered to help, and no one takes any ownership. I have gone back to IHG for my latest bookings. The care and class I have received from them has been outstanding compared to the customer service at Marriott these last few weeks.

  2. I’m really concerned about the upcoming reservations that aren’t showing and sometimes don’t get an email confirmation either. I’ve also booked stays which didn’t appear so looks like they haven’t gone through – but have they? If they are fully refundable ones they wouldn’t show anyway.

    I’m not badly organised but do around 4 stays a week and need to be able to rely on Marriott’s reservation page as a reference to know what’s in the pipeline. I logged in 3 times yesterday and found I’d gone from 9 upcoming stays to 7 and back up to 9. A boxed header saying we’re sorry every time won’t cut it. I need reliability for work.

  3. Lot’s of angst (mostly former SPG) Personally, I was involved in both programs, albeit more closely with Marriott Rewards, so in many ways the combined program was designed for me. Combining programs took me from no “lifetime” status to Lifetime Gold, Lifetime Platinum is out of my reach for quite a while due to number of Platinum years, I have a combined 4 years platinum, but will need 6 more for Lifetime Plat. This year I will also end with the highest status I have ever had, Platinum Elite, with 75+ nights.

    As a SPG mid or low tier member, I never really experienced a lot of the perks some of you did in that program so I suppose I also don’t grieve it’s loss as much. The integration was pretty good for me and I believe the combined program will be as well. We can’t go backwards, let’s move forward.

  4. OT but

    For the ones interested the return flight report from CDG to RUN on the HI-Fly A380 business class service on behalf of Air Austral:


    The lounge is the former Air France one with still the same old AF furniture.
    Even the the paper towelettes are from Air France. But because the food is supplied from servair, it may makes sense… I think the Star alliance lounge is also supplied by servair… so who knows maybe Air France still manage the lounge. I though it has been managed by another company… anyways.

    The suites were not authorised to be utilise this time apparently.
    Only 200 passengers on this leg but everyone is back at school or work so that may explain this.

  5. It’s been a mess for me too.

    But for some reason, after they FINALLY corrected my YTD nights (55 which is correct), they have granted me Platinum Premier status. I certainly am not going to call to get that corrected…

  6. This all sucks! Hate the Merger. I’m a Starwood SPG and Starwood Vacation Ownership Girl! So Disappointed this Merger happened.

  7. Completely agree-the integration has been horrible for me. I am hoping to get grandfathered in as a lifetime platinum Premier – only to find that every day my points and night numbers are still changing, and I now have NO idea what it will take. Last week, I spent four hours-yes FOUR hours on the phone trying to get it resolved-resulting in a complete dead end. It’s now nearly a month past the integration point. Unbelievable.
    Some advice-take frequent screenshots or paper print outs of the points and nights you now have since they will be changing and their recordkeeping seems to be nonexistent.
    If you are short of nights-you can do a qualifying event -Hotels will grant you 10 nights of credit per event-just read the fine print closely.

  8. I suspect the new program name will not have the word Marriott in it, both to somewhat appease SPG people and to avoid the longstanding confusion (in conversation, FlyerTalk threads, etc) between Marriott the hotel chain and Marriott the brand/loyalty program.

    And I am 100% certain the new program name will be stupid.

  9. The combined program is still wildly messed up. After 2 weeks, my accounts merged. Then my lifetime nights went from 555 to 542. Nobody can tell me where these numbers come from. Emails to customer service get a ticket number, then just die with no one ever getting back to me.
    I have stopped booking all Marriott/Starwood hotels until they sort everything out. I don’t have a high level of confidence they can/will do this.

  10. @Bgriff
    I hope you’re right. That name has too much baggage and a clean break from it would be good. It does nothing for me, other than remind me of hotels I’ve pretty much gone out of my way to avoid over the years.
    MAR is their NASDAQ handle; also a verb meaning to spoil, ruin, taint, damage, vitiate, generally F.UP ( “Striving to better, oft we MAR what’s well”, King Lear 5.3).

  11. Still unable to transfer points to miles. Neither Marriott.com, SPG.com, the Marriott app nor many phone calls to customer support have sorted this most basic of issues. Has anyone successfully transferred points to miles? If so, how?

  12. Marriott Stars, Marriott Star Guests, or Marriott Preferred Guests. The Marriott name will likely stay because of the family, but it seems reasonable that they would toss in some branding relating to Starwood. At least they didn’t badly rename the tiers (make up stupid words) like Hyatt did.

  13. This integration is a complete CF. Heads should roll. Yes, it was complicated, but they should not have pulled the switch until the system was ready and tested. Doesn’t breed much loyalty for the new merged entity.

  14. Marriott Starwood Rewards

    Unfortunately I think Marriott will be staying in new name of the loyalty program.
    MRS wouldn’t be good. And this builds off both current names a bit.
    I suspect they are letting the credit card programs Duke it out in next 12 months to see who has better catchment before one bank gets cut. (Remember Costco switching from Amex to Visa).
    A negotiating tactic.

    I’ve been member of both and am most upset to see lack of acknowledgement within Marriott system of the Meeting Planner status that SPG had. I don’t feel I get the courtesy upgrades that I occasionally got within SPG system. I don’t travel a ton, but appreciated the respect of many small meeting plannings got me when I did check in. Not seeing that stay frankly, sadly. Supposedly they see it but it is nowhere in the profile (no I’m not a travel professional ITA etc.).
    Alot of good branding in SPG seems at risk down the road.

  15. I got a lifetime Gold status on combined program and a Platinum for the end of this year. The only reason I needed a status was for Free breakfast/lounge access. After spending $30k every year for 14 years to maintain Gold in SPG I was hoping to get comparable benefits in combined program. New Gold does not have it. I had close to 300k points after the merger. I’m going to use all of them up this year and switch all my bookings to other chains.

  16. So angry that there will be no way to get lifetime platinum premier. I was less than 6 months away from being lifetime platinum on the old Marriott system, and now, because of the ting of the merger, I will NEVER be able to reach the equivalent tier in the new program. Incredibly unfair. Considering leaving Marriott altogether because of it.

  17. I travel exclusively to the Hawaiian Islands and know the SPG point structure well. If you had an existing SPG balance you got a nice bump in the conversion but that’s where it ends. 2 points per dollar spend reduces your buying power by 25% with the new point structure which is not available at a lot of the Hawaiian properties. SPG once one the best loyalty programs is now questionable as to it’s worth.

  18. Recently tried to book room at LAX for a couple of nights. Could not get the combined website to recognize my Marriot Rewards #. Wanted Starwood # which I don’t have. Tried to re register Rewards # in combined account … hopeless. I’m pretty much done with my rewards VISA. Desirable hotels move up to category 5 or higher and the annual fee moves up as well as the interest rate. Trip next week will be my last with Marriot.

  19. I’m pretty sure people are most confused about why the integration process has been such a disaster. I’ve been consciously booking away from Marriott and will continue to do so until they get their act together.

  20. I feel very fortunate to not have any stays immediately preceding or following this mess. Booking away from Marriott until these issues are resolved.

    Also dreading what will happen with my SPG Amex points — I combined accounts and went with Marriott account number (to avoid messing up existing reservations), so who knows if Amex will send points to a correct account or if they will disappear…

  21. At least I’m in good (albeit unhappy) company! I tried to find a reservation I made for November at our home resort and have been unsuccessful. After reading everyone’s replies, now I’m even worried about calling and getting bo help! Ugh. Maybe it is time to get out, as my husband suggested. We’ve started with Sheraton Vacations when it was Embassy. 20 years ago.

  22. I’ve been an SPG member for 15 years. This merger sucks big time. The points needed to get a free room at Marriott hotels was about 3 times for Starwood hotels. They acknowledged that by converting my old points x3. Why now do I only get 2 points on purchases on my amex card? And I don’t like seeing the crazy Book of Mormon in my room. I’m seriously considering other rewards programs. SPG was the best rewards program when I began. Not so much anymore.

  23. The hidden Travel Packages new category map and lying CSRs really feels like fraud to me. A classic pump ‘n dump scam to get millions of points off their books and converted to lesser value certificates that people will struggle to use if they change dates or didn’t attach them to a property prior to Aug 18. I hope there is a class action lawsuit. Needless to say me and our company has moved $100K+ quarterly business to Hilton.

  24. I’m so angry. I was trying to requalify for Plat this year, with the plan of booking stays next year through the Chase UR portal, since Marriott has always recognized status on 3rd-party bookings (even if they don’t award points or night credits), and they promised that would continue post-merger. Then they changed the T & C this week to eliminate that.

    Making promises and then changing your mind later is crap. I’m so done with Marriott/SPG.

  25. @derek.. Marriott legacy lifetime qualification rules still alive until 12/31/18.. 750 nights is still the target for Lifetime Premeir Platinum Elite.. I started the mattress run from Hell last week.. even after SPG AmEx nights were re-adjusted/stolen back, from my account.. go waste some money & points on some nights…

  26. Tim says:
    September 9, 2018 at 8:09 am
    Marriott Preferred Wood Rewards?
    Marriott Wood Prefer Not (to) Reward?

    I’m voting for this one 😀

  27. I’m out. SPG got 90% of my stays for work and pleasure. Not anymore. I just booked 3 weeks in Japan—one week for work and two for pleasure—all nights are at Hyatt properties or local hotels. Doing Hyatt for upcoming NYC, DC and SF work trips as well.

  28. I don’t care what the name will be. This has been a total disaster. I called 5 times asking as long as I make platinum this year will I receive platinum for life and I was told yes. Now I have to stay 600 nights to make it instead of 500. I just had a rep start crying telling me they don’t give her he tools and said she had to discontinue the call because she was quitting. Holy crap Marriot get your stuff together or you are going to lose a lot of members.

  29. Right when I thought everything might be working again I showed up to a legacy SPG brand hotel this weekend who said my reservation wasn’t in the system. I then showed them the SPG app and said “well this looks like you booked through a third party.” I nearly lost all patience, I had booked the stay literally through the app.

    I have been staying exclusively at Hyatts the past few weeks as my travel allows it right now and my Ambassador got a very to the point email from me that I will be voting with my wallet until I can trust I can show up and actually have a reservation properly show up in their system.

    Hyatt has been a breath of fresh air and after 6 years of elite status with Marriott and/or Starwood I might just move along for good and I can’t believe I am actually saying that.

  30. The main issue I have is the poor communication with program changes. Phasing out platinum premier elite after 2018. Discovering these changes too late to deal with them.

    I got 2 additional platinum years due to status match from Marriott. My LTP goal is now 600 instead of 500. Unless I hit 500 at SPG properties this year. Need an advisor to work through all the overlapping rules and exceptions. Platinum support was unaware of the changes I inquired about. Had to show them the content I was asking for clarification.

    Can see why so many are frustrated. If I wasn’t within view of LTP I would have checked out too. Still could crash land if this was plane doesn’t right itself.

  31. They didn’t actually integrate anything. The hotel systems are still legacy Starwood or Marriott. Marriott phone reps can’t help with SPG properties, and vice versa.

  32. I have a new brilliantly creative name for them “World of Disappointment” this way at least new member will know what are they signing up for since they already cheated the existing SPG loyal member by stealing their recognition, lifetime stayed, depreciate there points value and so on.

  33. People hate changes no matter what because someone is going to lose out. Enough trashing Marriott, lets look at how we can take advantage of this dire situation.

    A friendly tip to help you make more $$$$$$$.
    I don’t (no one should) believe SPG will exist much longer (2 years max) By then either Chase or AMEX will get kicked out (likely AMEX) or have clear separation. Since the cards are almost aligned, they will just merge the Marriott with SPG, and Ritz with the luxe. So this is a good time to maximize the once per lifetime bonus. Since they won’t be living much longer.

    My advice for you to blog is
    1. Get all 3 SPG cards from AMEX within next 12 months, lifetime is running out.
    2. Keep the Ritz for those are lucky enough to still have it.
    3. All 3 SPG will convert into Chase. Now get the Chase cards before they convert to get bonus if possible (due to the latest AMEX/Chase restriction)
    4. Hope for a bonus to ‘upgrade’ your AMEX to Chase.
    5. Ritz will become Luxury card. Hope for bonus to ‘upgrade’ card. On rare possibility that Chase retains mass, AMEX gets the upper, this should not effect your outcome anyway.

    @Lucky I expect to get some commission from your commission when this happens 🙂

  34. I have no confusion at all about the merger…they’ve made it clear that most travelers need to stay away from their program.

  35. The integration has gone from bad to worse. When the programs combined my rewards account had 52 nights, making me a platinum member. But it took weeks for the nights to be reflected on my Marriott account. But it then stated 52 nights, Gold rewards plus members. I called Marriot and they said that it would eventually be worked out and reflected as platinum. I now have 57 nights this year at Marriott and while I was making a booking I noticed it still said Gold member, but my nights are now zero! My account says I have zero nights toward platinum status! The rewards helpline tried to explain it ( with a supervisor), but even they got confused. If I am starting 2018 from zero in September I am not staying another night at any Marriott related hotel.

  36. hi Lucky – do you know whether the new spg luxury card offer is in SPG points or Marriott points? I am a bit confused as to which it applies to. If the 100,000 points are SPG to be later converted to 300,000 Marriott points, then the card might be worth getting. Your thoughts?

  37. Appalling is the only adjective I use to describe this integration as I encountered numerous problems that remain mostly unresolved. I estimate that I have spent more than 10 hours collectively phone calling and writing emails to get Marriott’s attention. The main issue I have now is that I “attempted” a transfer of points to UAL. What a fiasco. Points were immediately removed from my Marriott account. However, they seem to have gone into cyberspace as UAL has no record of receiving them. It is day 14 now since I attempted the transfer and no one has a clue what happened and, worse, there is no record of them exiting my Marriott account. All I get when I inquire is that they are aware of the issue and then ask me to be patient. Well, that holds water for only so long and I would be ready to throw in the towel except too many points are at stake. My advice—do NOT attempt transfer to an airline w/o running a test first. At least then if you run into the same issue I am experiencing, you have only sacrificed a small amount of points.

  38. I have been an SPG Loyalist since Sheraton Club International (before SPG). Although I should be grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier at the end of the year, I have 892 nights and 14 years Platinum, this whole “conversion-nightmare” is so rocky that my confidence with the program is very badly shaken. In order to have an “Ace in my pocket” I purchased the Amex Hilton Aspire card with complimentary Diamond status. $450.00 seems like a lot of money but it is really not. I have already used $200.00 of the airline credit, will use the free night certificate at the Conrad in HK for a $350.00 savings, will use at least $100 of the resort credit in Thailand, save $95.00 for the “cheap” Hilton card for a total of $745.00 savings plus Diamond status and 100,000 points. Some decisions in life are easy. So, Marriott: If you wish to mess up an outstanding program like SPG, as least there is a back door.

  39. On the plus side, my 100k Marriwood points were credited as soon as I hit the spend requirement.

    I’ll be a lowly platinum next year, willing to try this new program a year or two but I don’t have high hopes

  40. They should hire back all the managers that ran SPG and left after the merger.
    New program should not have Marriott name in it and the umbrella corporate name should also change from Marriott International – too much confusion – is it Marriott the hotel or Marriott the holding company??

    RE SPG/ME integration F*Up…..so now there all these different rules re the breakfast benefit, yet on the benefits page it says simply – varies by brand – where are we supposed to know what the officer is ahead of time – I can see myself arguing with the poor front desk clerk!

    Just checked out of a US Sheraton property. They have a lounge that offers AM & PM services; yet I was given vouchers for full breakfast in the restaurant ? This doesn’t “fit” with the new rules – so…??? BTW I was SPG Platinum Lifetime w/ Ambassador and now Loyalty Program Platinum Premier Elite + Ambassador.

  41. I had Ambassador Service and a personal Ambassador listed on the SPG App & Desktop version before program integration
    After integration – no Ambassador contact information on-line or on App!!! How is this serving their best/most loyal members?

    Also, the new SPG app pales in comparison to the old one. It’s like they went back in time !

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