Marriott acquired Starwood over two years ago, but even now, it seems that there are still some problems to be worked out. This is true of the company’s loyalty program, as Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, noted while traveling on a flight with concerned loyalty members.
Marriott‘s acquisition of Starwood may have created the biggest hotel company in the world, but it seems that, even after two years, there are still some problems to be worked out. This, Skift reports, is especially true of the organization’s resultant loyalty program.
Offering up an anecdote, the outlet relates how Arne Sorenson, Marriott International President and CEO, bore eyewitness account to exactly how changes to the program, as brought about by the merger, were impacting customers.
As a passenger on a flight between New York and Boston back in August, the outlet reports that he just happened to be seated among both, “the writer of an article for Bloomberg Businessweek about how the Marriott-Starwood merger was creating fear in points-obsessed travellers,” as well as “actual points-obsessed travelers.”
Commenting on his surreal experience at the Skift Global Forum late last week, Sorenson said, “suddenly, all around me, people are debating the loyalty program. It is the greatest thing in the world. You cannot buy that kind of attention from customers. They were debating it because they cared about the way the program worked for them.”
He also acknowledged both the laborious process of merging the two respective programs into one and the fact that some elements of the current program just don’t sit well with members. Reaching out to them directly, he asked these members specifically to “hang with us.”
“We are really interested and eager to see the results of that now over the next few months, but there’s a lot of work yet to be done,” Sorenson said, adding, “When you look at the program from a credit card perspective or points earned or elite status, yes, there are some changes that are not loved.”