Looking for Clues About the SPG / Marriott Merger – Here’s One!

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When Marriott purchased Starwood hotels in 2016, many SPG loyalists were concerned. After all, many travellers LOVE Starwood Preferred Guest and several of its hotels. Marriott? Not so much…

But Marriott is keenly aware of the risk of alienating a bunch of SPG members, particularly those with elite status, and has been moving very slowly towards a full integration. And somewhat surprisingly, we’ve liked what we’ve seen so far – with a rational 3:1 conversion rate applied when converting Marriott Rewards points into Starpoints (and vice versa) as well as instant status matching between SPG and Marriott Rewards.

I suspect that many SPG members would be happy for this situation to remain unchanged… indefinitely… however it is quite likely that 2018 is going to be the final year of SPG. Costs must be cut in any corporate merger, and two sets of overheads is one too many… So, it is likely that a major announcement will be made at some point in 2018, outlining the “new and combined” Marriott Rewards that will reign in 2019.

No matter what the final programme looks like, I suspect that most readers will agree that “the more it looks like SPG the better”. So this news might brighten your day…

Updated BRG Policy From Marriott Rewards

Marriott Rewards has made a quiet update to the terms and conditions of its Look No Further policy – Best Rate Guarantee for the rest of us – to include the option of receiving 5,000 Marriott points instead of a 25% discount.

Best Rate Guarantees are my favourite travel hacking strategy, and many of my trips involve multiple BRG claims. Not only does this keep costs down, but in the case of Starwood Preferred Guest I can earn an additional 2,000 Starpoints; I’ve written about the policy here.

So consider me thrilled that Marriott Rewards has added this option – I won’t even quibble over the 5,000 Marriott points (instead of the 6,000 a 3:1 ratio would imply) – as it means that one of my favourite aspects of SPG should survive the two programmes being combined together.

And, as always, when doing a BRG claim you should consider whether the points are worth more than the discount. Usually I take the points for a one-night stay, and the discount for longer stays; but much depends on the room rate and your own valuation of points.

What do you think? Excited about this news?


    • Craig Sowerby says

      I sadly think it will go, but fingers crossed…

      What hopefully will stay is a miles and hotel nights package of some sort – both Marriott and SPG offer them with good mileage ratios.

      • Joe Deeney says

        “I suspect that many SPG members would be happy for this situation to remain unchanged… indefinitely… ” – this 100% in my case!

        The current arbitrage opportunities are great, whether it’s elite status or buying Starpoints for Marriott Vacation Packages, the Marriott/NFL twitter free points, etc. Sadly, all good things come to an end – but there’s always something new too!

        Are the Marriott LNF terms similar to the SPG BRG? – it’s been ages since I’ve done a Marriott claim but this might get me looking.

        • Craig Sowerby says

          More or less similar. I haven’t done a Marriott BRG in ages either, but it is still generally considered to be the #2 BRG after SPG for user-friendliness.

          Hilton BRG has worked well for me lately as well. Might do a post at some stage.

  1. Pangolin says

    I wish they’d just hurry up and tell us straight out what it’s going to be, rather than having to read through the tea leaves or read between the lines of press releases from Marriott’s Chief Exec (which is what FlyerTalk is currently reduced to).

    Yeah, I know it’s going to be bad, but I’m the sort that prefers to hear the bad news first… so I can take countermeasures.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Of course we’re going to hate it. The question is whether the enhancements are things we can live with or whether they will send us rushing off to other hotel chains. To their credit, Marriott seem aware that just being Marriott will chase away SPG regulars so they have to improve that side of things…

      • Pangolin says

        If Marriott screw things up then Hilton could really eat their lunch by offering a proper late checkout to Diamonds.

        But it’s too obvious so they won’t do it.

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