A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question using Facebook about the recent Marriott and SPG program merger and failed promises from Marriott that the reader believes to be outright lies.
You can access Marriott’s page for combined program here.
Here’s the message from the reader:
I understand you have covered several SPG/Marriott issues in your readers’ questions section since the merger and may be reluctant to stay monothematic. Yet, I do have a question that goes beyond the chaos the merger created.
It’s regarding Platinum (Elite) benefits that had been promised. Especially breakfast across all brands and suite upgrades with a terminology mirroring the spg one (guaranteed upgrade to best available room incl. standard suites).
While we have learnt that the breakfast benefit was a mere show-element to create higher expectations than they were able to fulfill (I am still unsure whether Flueck as SVP loyalty is merely a weakling in the organisation or an outright liar) so that instead of breakfast we would get first 10 $ f&b credit per stay, than per person and day for breakfast at certain brands – this now seems to be void, too. Friends of mine stayed at an AC in Spain and were told that the voucher was only valid between 3pm and 3 am each day – making it completely not usable for either breakfast nor lunch.
That seems like an additional trick to sh** in elites faces. Plus, despite reiterative promises, the t&c regarding platinum upgrades remain as lax as before, leaving them completely to the hotel’s discretion.
So the question is: why is none of the blogs or newspapers really picking up on this and uncovering as outright lies towards their most loyal customers?
Or am I being to picky or naive expecting them to stick to their promises?
We certainly have covered many of the issues that have resulted from the Marriott Rewards and SPG program merger. We have yet to write about the combined breakfast benefit that is not as good as originally communicated.
I believe that the AC hotel in Spain was twisting the truth, however. The credit is valid for a day. Not just between 3PM – 3AM.
The suite upgrade language has always been somewhat vague even on the SPG side. SPG Platinum members have been eligible for upgrades to “Select Standard Suites” based on the availability at the time of checking in.
Most of the Starwood (Marriott too) and other hotels process these upgrades during the night shift and prepare registration documents at the time (if a hotel is well run). If your upgrade has not been processed, you can always check the availability at the time of checking in (like I did today) and have a word with the front desk (and was successful).
I believe where Marriott and Mr. Flueck have been twisting the truth are:
1. Breakfast benefit (I will wrote about this tomorrow)
– Not as good as promised.
2. Disappearing lounges at Starwood Resorts
– Marriott Resorts were not required to have lounges (more F&B spend by the guests).
3. 20% More Points
If you consider that you get less welcome amenity points, green choice points have been cut, so have been Best Rate Guarantee, top tier bonus has gone from 100% to 75%, it is very difficult for me to believe that elite members earn 20% more under this “new” program that really is just Marriott Rewards.
4. All Suite SPG Hotels
All hotels were supposed to be available at category 7 prices until the end of this year but they are not. The SPG all suite hotels are not available for bookings online (only one based on the piece I wrote) but you can book them at inflated rates over the phone.
5. Travel Package Mess
There was huge mess with Travel Package mapping between the “old” and the “new” program where Marriott tried to take members to the “cleaners”.
Not sure why anyone at Marriott Rewards leadership thought that it would make any sense to anger the membership by not being forthcoming with mapping and then offering terrible ratio?
6. IT Integration
It is clear that the Marriott Rewards and SPG integration was forced when the IT wasn’t ready. It was moved ahead from the end of 2018 to August. Two weeks after the merger and many members still don’t have access to their accounts and there are many other issues too.
I have no idea what kind of Marriott/SPG coverage other blogs have had for the past two weeks because I don’t follow any. If they haven’t covered issues that have affected members, there must be financial reasons behind that (follow the money). It must be difficult to push their credit card products if you write about integration and a program merger objectively?
I was rolling my eyes when I saw Mr. Flueck’s Hotel News Now interview on Monday after merger where he claimed that everything was basically running perfectly when all the systems were down. To be frank, I am not sure in which reality he was living in.