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NY Times article about Marriott-Starwood merger's effect on frequent travelers

NY Times article about Marriott-Starwood merger's effect on frequent travelers

 
Old Dec 15, 17, 7:02 am
  #31  
 
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Originally Posted by hhoope01 View Post

There are others too, but these are the ones that I've either been to myself or had plans to visit. So I have direct experience with. So yes, I'm sure Starwood had more of them and the ones they have are better than Marriott's, But you might be surprised at what you can find within the Marriott portfolio if you really look.
I actually don't think they're that difficult to find. I don't know if it's still there, but years ago I stayed in a Cleveland CY that was in an old bank building. My room was like being in a cathedral...at least as I remember it the windows were 10 feet tall, etc.

But I think your point is right on. Starwood has more unique/cool properties. I just don't understand why this would cause a SPG customer any concern. Do some people expect Marriott bought SPG just to tear down or completely renovate those properties into cookie cutter hotels? That's now what Marriott has done at all with it's smaller acquisitions, which have actually been focused on adding the boutique-style hotels to the portfolio. Adding SPG took Marriott from having some cool properties to having a lot more, and I think that's part of the reason for the transaction.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 8:40 am
  #32  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
I thought the article was pretty on point, and I'm a legacy Marriott guy.

That being said, he hit the points ... SPG has some cool properties but doesn't cover a lot of real estate. Frankly, not every place has a market for cool properties ... not to knock PIT!

And, I agree that designing a program that retains the SPG customers is important and difficult.
And given the ability to get "cool properties" via AirBNB, Marriott has quite the challenge in not losing a good part of the "cool" end of the market to non-hotel competition, at least for leisure urban market stays.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 8:52 am
  #33  
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
]I just don't understand why this would cause a SPG customer any concern.
As a longtime member (and fan) of both Marriott and Starwood, I have no concerns about "coolness" as far as the merger goes. As I mentioned before, I think "cool" can be a fleeting thing, and I'm personally stayed in Renaissances that have what I consider a sophisticated/timeless coolness to them. I'm not worried about Marriott trying to turn Le Meridiens into Courtyards or Luxury Collection hotels into JWs.

The only "concern" I have - from the SPG perspective - is really the vibe/culture related to the SPG program itself. SPG always had more of a personal relationship with me, even though I've been with Marriott for many more years and have had more Plat years at MR than SPG (about 10 Plat years at MR and only around 3 at SPG). I liked the fact that there's usually good on-property recognition, and almost no exclusions to that recognition. I don't have to avoid resorts or luxury properties like St. Regis. I'm Plat everywhere with *very* limited exceptions (SVO being the only one that impacts me). I can see where SPG Plats are worried that MR Plat is both more impersonal across the board, even when elite benefits are recognized, and also has exclusions at many of the very best places in the system - the exact places we'd want to redeem points and receive elite recognition.

And SPG always did "cool" things like the Moments program, which was far more developed and organized before any other hotel brand was doing something similar. Moments was genuinely usable to many members, including those with only a modest stash of points.

The only concern I have from a Marriott perspective is really the new category structure and whether the cost of Travel Packages is going to jump by a lot for any given property in the system. I suspect the combined program would collapse everything into a single category structure, combining down from 15-ish unique categories they could have just by merging existing levels to 10 or so. As they do that, it would be easy to see a lot of redemption rates shoot up by quite a bit.

Last edited by pinniped; Dec 15, 17 at 8:58 am
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Old Dec 15, 17, 8:58 am
  #34  
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My bet is that Marriott is going to double-down on betting on the kind of market that Hyatt has chosen as its priority: those middle-income, worker bee market participants staying more than two months at predictable (and predictably boring) hotels for routine work stays.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 1:02 pm
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
My bet is that Marriott is going to double-down on betting on the kind of market that Hyatt has chosen as its priority: those middle-income, worker bee market participants staying more than two months at predictable (and predictably boring) hotels for routine work stays.
If one looks at why SPG was put up for sale by the board, that's exactly it.

Frits, the former CEO, is certainly a visionary in many ways. The Board, however, wanted Courtyards and Fairfield Inns, not LC properties in Mauritius cool as they may be. There's a limited market for cool. There is a large market for middle market properties in Chattanooga. So ... if you're going to grow, you need to be in Chattanooga. Of course, it helps get people to stay at your Fairfield Inn if they can at least dream of saving enough points to go to Mauritius.

SPG cool properties aren't going anywhere. That's part of what Marriott wanted.

Now ... if I could get the GM's of some of the cool SPG properties to value elite customers rather than focusing on 20 somethings with 8 people sharing the cost of a $200 room ... I might value SPG properties more!
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Old Dec 15, 17, 2:06 pm
  #36  
 
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
... it helps get people to stay at your Fairfield Inn if they can at least dream of saving enough points to go to Mauritius.
FIs put me in Paris, Hawai'i, Los Cabos, Aruba and Sydney for a week each- can't complain!
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Old Dec 15, 17, 2:58 pm
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
My bet is that Marriott is going to double-down on betting on the kind of market that Hyatt has chosen as its priority: those middle-income, worker bee market participants staying more than two months at predictable (and predictably boring) hotels for routine work stays.
I don't know. I've been loyal to Marriott for years just because of what you mentioned. When I'm looking for a hotel near wherever I'm working, I value predictability. A good bed, clean room, decent bathroom. And then, by property, knowing what I'll get for breakfast or a bar in each of the different brands. But to me, that's why the merger made so much sense. I don't view Starwoods that way, except the lower end properties. The merger allows Marriott to keep that dependable business traveler cash cow, and pick up more resorts and vacation properties.

I will be very honest. I knew the Starwood resorts were very nice, but when I took a vacation I would look at Marriott resorts first, then boutique properties, or sometimes Hyatt's before I looked at SPG. That all changes once the rewards program is all synched up. I'll probably look at SPG first, and Marriott is winning that vacation business back from me vs. going to a boutique hotel. If I were a legacy SPG, when I have to stay in "x" city for business, where there's no convenient SPG, but 2 Marriotts, I'm staying at Marriott to get the points.

So, if by "double-down", you meant they would change the SPG properties to be more like CY, Marriott, FI, RI, I don't know if that will be the case. They didn't need to buy all those fancy SPG properties if they wanted to do that. But we'll see I suppose.
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Old Dec 15, 17, 3:32 pm
  #38  
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
I will be very honest. I knew the Starwood resorts were very nice, but when I took a vacation I would look at Marriott resorts first, then boutique properties, or sometimes Hyatt's before I looked at SPG.
I've I'm looking for a resort, my sequence is this:
(1) Hilton Resort
(2) MVCI
(3) HGVC
(4) Boutique resort
(5) Starwood Resort
(6) Hyatt Resort
(7) Other reputable timeshare brand
(8) Booking.com / VRBO / Homeaway
(9) Marriott Resort

I would consider a "resort-y Marriott hotel that isn't technically a resort" on par with HGVC or MVCI. But those are rare (we have a thread for them).

Is there technically such a thing as a "Courtyard Resort"? If there were, would it include mandatory downgrades for elites and a Gold/Platinum Surcharge above the normal breakfast price?
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Old Dec 16, 17, 7:01 am
  #39  
 
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
I've I'm looking for a resort, my sequence is this:
(1) Hilton Resort
(2) MVCI
(3) HGVC
(4) Boutique resort
(5) Starwood Resort
(6) Hyatt Resort
(7) Other reputable timeshare brand
(8) Booking.com / VRBO / Homeaway
(9) Marriott Resort
So our two sequences show the issue I think Marriott has, as it's been more of a business hotel than vacation. I would look at Marriott first because I could either earn or use points. If there wasn't something great, then I'd move down my list. That causes an issue for business travelers that want to use their points to take the family on vacation. Having more desirable vacation properties will attract more business travel, which is Marriott's bread and butter. Starwood doesn't transform Marriott into a vacation business, but it provides more options, IMO better options in many cases, and options in locations around the world they didn't previously offer.

Anyway, back on point, I just don't understand any of the angst about Marriott "ruining" Starwood. They could ruin the rewards program, but I doubt that they'll do much to change the best properties in either brand.
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Old Dec 16, 17, 9:45 pm
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post

Anyway, back on point, I just don't understand any of the angst about Marriott "ruining" Starwood. They could ruin the rewards program, but I doubt that they'll do much to change the best properties in either brand.
I'm not so sure. When I stay at a Marriott, everything seems to happen by algorithm. That's good in many ways, not good in other ways. I get a different vibe at the better Starwood properties. It's hard to imagine Marriott being hands-off at soon-to-be-former Starwood properties.
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Old Dec 16, 17, 10:00 pm
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by JackE View Post
I'm not so sure. When I stay at a Marriott, everything seems to happen by algorithm.
Can you expand on that? To me its the opposite, unless you interface with a human whether in advance or at checkin, nothing special happens.
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Old Dec 17, 17, 7:24 am
  #42  
 
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Originally Posted by JackE View Post
I'm not so sure. When I stay at a Marriott, everything seems to happen by algorithm. That's good in many ways, not good in other ways. I get a different vibe at the better Starwood properties. It's hard to imagine Marriott being hands-off at soon-to-be-former Starwood properties.
I think that's true to some extent at the properties that are focused on business travelers, or the families looking for a budget option on vacation. That hasn't been my experience at the higher end Marriott's, and definitely not at brands like Autograph.

Here's an example. I recently stayed at the Marriott Nai Yang Beach in Thailand. When I got out of the taxi and entered the open air lobby, a woman came out and introduced herself and asked if I was JBord, which kind of shocked me. I couldn't have been the only one checking in that day, but maybe I was the last to arrive! She then asked me to sit and enjoy the view of the ocean while she finalized my check in and brought my keycards. I was then pleasantly surprised to see that, as a Gold, I was upgraded from a garden view room to a pool-side cabana room facing the ocean (I would say this room and the resort met the "cool" factor mentioned in this thread). Best check in process I've had at any brand hotel, and I've had many with the whole welcome drink routine. I could go on describing this stay, but I would say that I didn't feel like I was staying at a normal Marriott the whole time I was there, other than I was able to check in online and I got my points at the end.

I've also had good experiences at SPG properties, including the Sheraton in Dallas last year. So I'm not discounting what you're saying. I just think both Marriott and SPG have their cookie cutter properties and their more unique properties. I haven't seen Marriott try to change the unique properties in a negative way, so I expect some standardization in processes as they bring on SPG, but not in the way guests are treated or properties are unique and cool.
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Old Dec 17, 17, 5:05 pm
  #43  
 
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For SPG loyalists, the main concern is Marriott can screw up the benefits when they combine MR and SPG. If MR/SPG adopt the MR no breakfast for Plat/Gold at resorts, then I will never stay at any MR/SPG resort on vacation. I could care less what Marriott does to the brands, as long as they clean up the low end of each brand as they're doing with Sheraton. There are enough hotels and I can always select the ones that meet my needs, whether they're cool or not.

While we're on the subject of benefits, I really like Hyatt's benefits, especially full breakfast if hotel does not have lounge, no resort fees, and no parking fee on award stays. That is most friendly toward road warriors on vacation. I just booked 13 nights on Hawaii and Kauai for vacation next year, all SPG and Hyatt properties, Marriotts never crossed my mind.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 7:18 am
  #44  
 
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Originally Posted by CIT85 View Post
For SPG loyalists, the main concern is Marriott can screw up the benefits when they combine MR and SPG.
This SHOULD be the concern of all customers, regardless of which side you started on. That's why I think the article is pure silliness.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 1:45 pm
  #45  
 
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
This SHOULD be the concern of all customers, regardless of which side you started on. That's why I think the article is pure silliness.
Yes this SHOULD be a concern for all. But, if MR/SPG keeps MR benefits, then all current MR elites have already bought into the program. However, SPG Plats like SPG better than MR for the most part, and would not be happy if MR/SPG keeps existing MR benefits and T&C.

The author is writing from the POV of SPG Plat, so I get his concerns, although the comparisons between MR hotel brands and SPG brands are not relevant.
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