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Millions of Marriott Members Abandoning Ship for the Competition?

A new report by Bloomberg indicates that a series of unforced errors by Marriott International may have benefited competitor Hilton Worldwide in a big way. According to industry insiders, Marriott’s recent woes have helped Hilton to gain nearly 14 million new Honors members last year alone, as disgruntled former Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards members seek a viable alternative.

Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts hasn’t exactly gone smoothly. Despite the hotel conglomerate’s best efforts, merging the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs resulted in elite guests from both programs feeling dissatisfied.  Making matters worse, the newly combined rewards program had barely launched before the company was forced to reveal that sensitive personal information—including travel histories, passport details and in some cases, credit card numbers—of more than 500 million guests may have been exposed by a criminal hacking syndicate.

Even “Bonvoy,” the new name chosen for the combined SPG/Marriott loyalty program has been universally panned by reward members.

Now, Bloomberg reports that Marriott’s recent run of poor decision-making and bad luck has become something of a windfall for arch rival Hilton Worldwide. According to Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta, the Hilton Honors loyalty program gained nearly 14 million new members last year – a substantial boost he attributes to disruptions at competing loyalty programs, which led customers to seek less volatile alternatives.

“I suspect that we are benefiting by getting members of other programs that are shifting their loyalty,” Nassetta told stakeholders during an earnings call this Wednesday.  “I can’t give you hard data on who’s come exactly from where, and, to a degree, as long as they are great customers that we can get engaged with us, we don’t care.”

Marriott Bonvoy members, including both former Marriott Rewards and SPG members, on the Flyertalk forums seem to back up the assertion that disaffected elite travelers are ready to abandon Marriott in the face of lingering IT issues, rewards chart inconsistencies and growing customer service failures. The problems for Marriot is, perhaps, even bigger than the recent boost to Hilton’s ranks would seem to indicate. A number of Flyertalk members who have previously held elite status in both the Bonvoy and the Honors loyalty programs (therefor not counted among Hilton’s 14 million new members), are indicating in posts that Marriott’s seemingly endless missteps over the last year have made Hilton their new first choice for overnight stays.

Is the newly combined Marriott Bonvoy program simply suffering inevitable and understandable growing pains or is it past time for elite guests to jump ship. The debate is evolving here.


[Image: Max Pixel]

Comments are Closed.
nR2xvoCFKBsPMZMJ March 24, 2019

I just can't do Hilton. Their crappy website is so bad. I can't even log in without having to jump through hoops to prove to Google that I'm not a bot. They don't value me and my business so they're not going to get it.

musicman27pa March 5, 2019

Hilton, IHG and Marriott -- it is like stepping in gum, vomit and dog doo... Really all the programs are getting worst for years. The economy is doing OK and their utilization rates are up so the corporate mindset is why reward frequent business loyalty travelers. The short sightedness will be when business travelers and staying with more independents and do to the lack of loyalty when the next recession rolls around they will be short all those business travelers as the bitter memories will prevail regarding constant deflation of points, loss of perks such as exec lobbies, breakfasts and the non existent upgrades. All 3 of these clowns have gotten progressively worst each year over the past 10+ years.

MrGood March 2, 2019

Smaller & newer companies have better customer service, and I guess the loyal patrons are getting fed up with it. Have you even tried to get compensation or a free night from Marriott due to a bad stay, let alone getting interest by offering hotel feedback? Terrible company, and Ritz & SPG joining them doesn't help their respective images.

DFWsakp February 26, 2019

All those complaining are pissed off that they did not get the Top tier status nor will they ever get it (Lifetime Titanium) I have stayed at the competitors Hilton HHonors - Their Points are like Zimbabwe dollars. You can hardly get anything decent for the same. Plus their Aspire card gives you Diamond status so you go to any of their lounges and it is packed like a fish market. Priority Club - No Breakfast offered to any of the tiers. No lounge access. Not sure why anyone would want to stay with them unless you are travelling to a town of 1000 people and that's the only decent option. Thus, people can complain as much as they want, they are still going to come back to Marriott. They, just want to be heard and perhaps have Marriott open the Lifetime Titanium for all future road warriors

scubaccr February 26, 2019

It will be the SPG Plats who qualified with a paltry 25 stays = only 25nights under SPG lebacy rules, that will no longer qualify as Bonvoy elites with upgrades+lounge when needing 50nights under Marriott/Bonvoy program. Moving to Hilton allows Gold at 20stays and Diamond at 30stays (ie 30x single nights) Those travellers with serious number of nights/year in hotels will already have status with multiple (2 or 3) programs