Bloomberg News run a very good piece yesterday about the state of the Marriott & Starwood integration and how Marriott see their 30 brands.
Bloomberg managed to get an interview with Marriott global brand officer that had shed some light what is happening with the merger and the various brands. The written piece is worth a read.
You can access the Bloomberg News piece here:
Here are some tidbits from the piece:
Many industry insiders assumed that the company’s three “soft” brands—brands that are made up of independent properties—would be folded into one group under one umbrella. But Luxury Collection (with such properties as the Gritti Palace in Venice or the Palace in San Francisco), Tribute Portfolio (which includes the Royal Palm in South Beach), and Autograph Collection (Pier One Sydney Harbour; Atlantis Paradise Island) all remain in place.
It is really interesting if Marriott truly intends to keep both Autograph and Tribute Portfolio brands as these soft brands targets exactly the same market.
Generally, though, Marriott is identifying two main types of luxury travel personas. It’s characterizing Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and JW Marriott as “classic luxury,” while the other five brands are considered purveyors of “distinctive luxury.” This is largely an indication of style: traditional and business travel-friendly (“classic”) vs. modern and boutique-y. Dip down below the luxury tier, though, and some of those characterizations blur a bit.
All the 30 brands are either in the Classic (read boring) or Distinctive (read interesting) categories. Most of the SPG brands belong to the latter.
The only concession Edmundson was able to make about the SPG/Marriott Rewards loyalty program was how hard it will be to solidify. Just as tech infrastructure will require a lot of untangling, so will the terms of a new, joint loyalty program. Edmundson says this is “no trivial thing,” and Marriott is not anywhere near revealing new terms just yet. We do know that the two programs will operate independently until at least 2018, however.
I have said it all along that inherently Marriott Rewards and SPG have both served distinctively different markets while being hotel loyalty programs. Staying at W and collecting Marriott Rewards points?
Difficult to see Marriott keeping all the 30 brands in the medium/long term. There is quite a bit of overlap. Having high number of brands, however, enables Marriott penetrate markets with numerous offerings targeting different clientele.
Also, this helps Marriott move properties from one brand to another more easily to better fit the property’s features and condition.
BTW Bloomberg News is the only business news channel that I can watch. I used to watch CNBC at times but haven’t for a while.