Marriott / SPG Merger Issues – Is This New York Times Report “Fake News”?

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When you join the ranks of committed “travel hackers”, you might end up caught in a little bubble of InsideFlyer, Flyertalk, Boarding Area, HeadforPoints and other blogs, etc. Within that little bubble – which includes many frequent travellers who know far more than your average customer service agent – I don’t know of anybody who hasn’t encountered substantial issues with the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. And a natural reaction is to complain and moan and threaten to take business elsewhere…

With nearly two months having passed since the merger was implemented, a few people – myself included – have started to wonder why the mainstream press hasn’t written more about the difficulties. I can understand the British press – who love to bash British Airways and Ryanair – not picking up on the issue due to a lack of reader interest in foreign hotel chains, but I would have expected that major news outlets in the United States would have gotten around to writing about the substantial problems that don’t appear to be getting fixed. So when I saw the headline in the New York Times – Marriott’s Merger of Hotel Rewards Programs Tests Members’ Loyalty I thought to myself… FINALLY! After all, bad PR is one of the most effective ways of pressuring travel companies to do the right thing.

But then I actually read the article, which you can find by clicking here.  Trust me… I appreciate an attempt at balanced reporting in the age of Donald Trump, but I could hardly believe these quotes:

“Bringing that technology together was a very challenging undertaking,” said David Flueck, Marriott’s senior vice president for global loyalty. The task, which created a loyalty program with more than 110 million members, took nearly two years, he said, and entailed writing some 20 million new lines of computer code.

“We ended up bringing over about four billion records from the Starwood technology systems,” Mr. Flueck said. He described the merger as 99.9 percent successful.

Say what now? 99.9% successful? At what? Annoying loyal members???

The NYT article also concluded with:

While there were scattered claims across social media and on frequent-traveler message boards of rooms and affiliated credit cards being canceled out of frustration, conversations with hotel owners indicate that these threats are not being carried out on a wide scale, said Michael Bellisario, a vice president and senior analyst at Robert W. Baird & Company, a financial services company that buys and sells Marriott stock.

“So far, no one’s seen a material change in direct bookings,” he said, adding that he didn’t anticipate mass defections. “You get used to certain perks. No one likes change. I feel like there’s always that initial grumble factor.”

So, are we grumbling but continuing to book hotel stays with Marriott?  I’ve certainly cancelled all of my bookings for the rest of 2018 and have repeatedly put off calling Marriott. I just don’t need the hassle! Or maybe we’re being misled by the “travel hacker bubble” and the general public – who vastly outnumber us – simply don’t care?

What do you think? Are you actually moving business elsewhere or even planning to sue? Or just venting online and booking your next Marriott stay anyhow? Be honest!!

Comments

  1. Tilly71 says

    Certainly the transfer of SPG points to Marriott has been a nightmare, I’ve read reports of points outstanding of three months back.

  2. Luke says

    I’m still missing a substantial number of points from my SPG Amex credit card from July through to October 🙁 is anyone else receiving points from their credit card spend?

    • Rob says

      I’m having the same credit card spend issue although I think mine of only from August I was going to chase them up at the end of October have you spoken to anyone about it either at Amex or Marriott

      • Luke says

        Spoken to both. Apparently it’s a known issue that still isn’t resolved 🙁 really annoying because I’m waiting on these points to make a redemption.

        • rob says

          I have just checked and have had some points post today so I just need to work out if I am missing anything. It might be worth checking. Correct me if I am wrong is points GBP x 3 on the SPG Amex card

  3. Phillip says

    Unfortunately, for the people who need the system to work (bloggers and more “advanced” users), it’s a mess! For everyone else, who as you say outnumber the former, it makes no difference! For the most of it, they just care about people booking rooms… and the vast majority of the public wouldn’t even know there was a merger! For the minority of people who need all elements of the system to work – they have been failed! An epic fail! Is it fair for Marriott to say it’s been a success? Maybe if only 1% of people are actually seeing an impact, then the remaining 99% makes it a success?! It makes it no less frustrating!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Agreed.

      If Marriott truly believes that this is a 99% success, then it’s only a short leap in logic to the getting rid of the loyalty programme entirely (or massively devaluing it). After all, if people still are booking rooms despite everything, then why bother being generous…

    • Simon says

      Mine have just posted too but the original SPG amount not the 3x I should be getting on conversion to Marriott ffs

        • Craig Sowerby says

          August hotel stays? You’ll have to send in an online form for that.

          I’ve only had 1 out of 4 Marriott stays post automatically. And they won’t accept retro-claims without a print out of your bill!

          • rob says

            Mine seemed wrong about 1000 points short after speaking to Amex they say the last 6 days spend go onto the next months points

  4. Mr Roos says

    Missed a holiday I had planned using points because their system would not let me book an SPG property with my points, ridiculous, the whole point of points was so that I could use them when I needed to at short notice.

    Never mind the weeks of delays for transferring MR points

  5. Mr Roos says

    PS the main stream media is just a few people who get together and try to push an agenda based on the advertisers and their emotional state at the time

  6. Peter W says

    I have 60,000 Marriott points (used to be 20,000 SPG) that I converted to 25,000 Avios have vanished after leaving my Marriott account and not appearing in BA. Marriott are apparently looking into it, but no luck after nearly a month. Missing booking flights for next year now. Anyone else having this issue?

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