Marriott Rewards & SPG Program Merger Four Months Later

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Marriott Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) started their very painful IT and program merger on August 18, 2018, although both (and Ritz-Carlton Rewards) got to keep their names for now (Bonvoy is coming soon – read more here).

Westin Perth

SPG accounts were moved to the Marriott Rewards platform and the Starwood reservation system has been slowly phased out this past autumn and legacy Starwood brands and their reservations moved and converted to Marsha (Marriott’s reservations system).

You can access Marriott Rewards here.

The entire process has been a complete mess (the most polite way to put it) and extensively covered here on LoyaltyLobby through our articles and reader email-pieces (see the long list below).

Marriott has been able to fix most of the acute problems and to somewhat stabilize their platform (website still down several times a week). There are still quite a few issues based on my own experiences and what readers have reported.

Here’s what is unresolved (report yours on the comments section):

1. Stays Not Postings

There appears to be great difficulty getting legacy Starwood hotels to post stays properly to Marriott accounts (there really aren’t SPG account anymore regardless what the account branding may say).

Hotels can no longer post missing stays by themselves (in Starwood times they could) but they need to contact their Marriott support center black-hole.

If you contact Marriott regarding missing stays, they usually request you to fax a copy of the folio. Shouldn’t they have the folio information on their system?

2. No Proper Breakdown On Points Earned

The online account only shows Base, Elite and Extra.To properly account for all the bonus points earned, there should be a breakdown that shows what are the extras earned like in the SPG.

Now it is practically impossible to know what might be missing if you are eligible for multiple property specific bonuses.

3. Customer Service

Customer service has been problematic ever since the August 18. Most of the agents are not familiar with the 60 page long terms & conditions and simply giving out incorrect information (or hanging up if they don’t know the answer). Wait times are getting slowly better.

Even before the merger you had to know how to navigate around Marriott Rewards Customer Service that had very limited hours by calling various offices outside of the US and contacting Mr. Marriott’s office as the last resource.

4. Ambassador Service

Marriott advertises Ambassador Service as a concierge service that takes cares of everything. It has really gone downhill (and wasn’t what was promised even back in SPG).

The number of accounts that each Ambassador is supposed to take care of has doubled to 300. Combine this with all the system issues that require far more manual intervention, emails go unanswered and much less personal attention, if any, compared to just earlier this year.

5. Suite Night Awards

Members first had great difficulty getting these applied to reservations and often they don’t get approved by hotels. They also turn to dust if not used. I have always chose other gift options since when SPG first launched these I had more than 20 expire unused.

These is also an issue getting these credited back to accounts if first properly applied and stay later canceled.

6. Your24

Your24 is a benefit for those that spent 75 nights with Starwood last year or who reach Ambassador status with Marriott Rewards. These requests are now entirely manual and sent to the hotel by email instead of by request done on SPG’s website. A waste of time for every party involved.

Hotels need to approve these manually based on the emails received and approval rate is not what it used to be.

7. Award Redeposits

I have had great difficulty getting points refunded for two award reservations that I have canceled. My Ambassador claims that the points for one have been refunded (it has not – need to do a spreadsheet to prove this) and another one is being dealt with by a “supervisor” now for more than a month.

There must be tens of millions of points that are lost by members when Marriott Rewards doesn’t credit them back to member accounts.

8. Manual Processes

Many of these issues above are derived from the fact that Starwood legacy hotels moved from away from their reservation system and integrated to Marriott’s old Marsha that requires far more manual reporting. I believe that hotels are manually posting stays to member accounts resulting plenty of misses and follow ups.

9. Old Marriott Tricks

Marriott has already started to backpedal on their promises as we reported earlier this week. The No Blackout Dates-policy is back to what it was earlier. Marriott legacy brands can have blackout dates for months at a time.

Here’s our coverage of the program merger issues:

Conclusion

The program merger was going as well as it could until the disastrous IT and loyalty program integration that started on August 18th.

I still cannot get my head around this merger? How Marriott and Marriott Rewards were so unprepared for all these ongoing issues for the past four months? They had a couple of years to prepare and could have delayed this integration until the end of the year if not longer until they were ready.

If only the IT and loyalty program merger had gone as efficiently as rolling out the BoMs and Pepsi products (Marriott requirements) to legacy Starwood branded hotels…..

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