Reader Question: “That’s nice, we are Marriott.” – Where To Go?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question by email which chain to choose after dissatisfaction with Marriott (former SPG member)?

Marriott Where To

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You can access Marriott’s page for combined program here.

Here’s the email from the reader:

I often wonder where we go from here, who do I give my 90 nights a year to? So many of my coworkers, the SPG refugees, have patiently hoped that the Marriott Regime wouldn’t treat us as second-class citizens. My fear was since this merger was announced that we’d get the Marriott level of “customer service”, a brand that I despised.

I’m a Lifetime Gold and Platinum 75; most years higher up than that. I was accustomed to being treated with some level of respect. All of which has recently been lacking on my platinum line calls.

Usually, over the weekend I look at the app to review my bookings and avoid discrepancies, except the Marriott system integration, started on Aug 18th. Somehow I ended up booked at two hotels, though I am sure the second hotel was canceled. As standard practice, I was charged for a no-show.

In an attempt to dispute, I spoke with the Westin to attempt to get that fee removed. That failed, so I called the SPG platinum line. They referred back to the hotel, I explained my situation, the app down, my history as an SPG loyalist and etc. Only to be told “That’s nice, we are Marriott”, well, I guess This is Sparta.

I attempted to call SPG again, after an excessive hold time the rep didn’t allow me to ask any questions. She put me on hold for 45 minutes and the came back to say the hotel refused ” I can’t help you further, kept talking over me a word into my sentence and hung up.

My intent is to write a letter, but ultimately I need a new hotel brand. Any recommendations? Since this integration started customer service has become par with the DMV or worse Comcast. I’ve spent way too much money to be condescended to as has frequently been the case lately.

Loyalty is not obedience.

The Marriott’s customer service levels are definitely down and not sure what is going on with this hanging up during calls that several readers have reported?

Let’s look at the options:

1. Hyatt

Hyatt is the most obvious choice for those that like SPG. Hyatt’s problem is the lack of properties worldwide and too many select service Hyatt Places and Hyatt Houses that are to be avoided.

Hyatt also “enhanced” their Gold Passport program the other year to World of Hyatt that turned to a disaster.

Customer service is good.

2. Hilton

Hilton has more than 5,000 properties worldwide but their top tier treatment is not as good as with SPG. You can get easy status match to Diamond with them (read more here).

Hilton has plenty of brands to choose from Hampton Inn to Waldorf Astoria.

Customer service is good and Hilton’s Guest Assistance can usually resolve issues quite well.

3. IHG

IHG too has more than 5,000 hotels but they are stronger in the lower end. If you are looking for a better guest experience, you need to book InterContinental, Kimpton or perhaps Indigo. IHG recently acquired Regent but they are not yet IHG participating.

IHG has farmed out their customer contact center to Philippines and most recently decided to close their US ones (read more here) and open up in Jamaica and Dominican Republic. Customer service can sometimes be bit of a challenge.

4. Accor

Accor has grown significantly over the past few years and finally integrated Fairmont, Swissotel and Raffles into the Le Club AccorHotels program this summer. Their coverage in the United States is very weak.

The problem is that all the upgrades are based on availability and officially only to the next category. Customer service also leaves lot to be desired.

5. Other Chains

There are many other options including Mandarin Oriental for those that mainly stay in Asia-Pacific or Four Season for those that prefer higher end hotels.

I just cannot come up with any option that would be a perfect match for former SPG member. I believe that it needs to be a combination of hotel chains unfortunately.

Conclusion

Seems that Marriott takes SPG members for granted and they might be in for a surprise.

Wouldn’t be a surprise for me if many are not satisfied with the Marriott and what has been going on for the past week and decide to move their stays elsewhere if they haven’t already done so.

Marriott and Starwood couldn’t have been more different companies. Marriott has always been very conservative (bibles required in every hotel room) while Starwood has been innovative. I still don’t believe that merging these two cultures will end up well.

When I say that Marriott has been conservative it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have been financially successful (they have) or it hadn’t worked well with the brands and customers they have had (it has). But Starwood brands and customers are entirely different beast and I don’t believe that Marriott knows how to handle them. Throwing bibles and hanging up at them during phone calls is not the recipe for success.

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