Good or bad, we live in a world where big companies seem to be buying up all of their competition. US Airways becoming American Airlines was a huge loss for the US airline market. Competition dropped from 4 major air carriers to 3, and American Airlines gained status as the largest airline in the world. Marriott has just bought Starwood and the same exact thing has happened, Marriott is now the worlds largest hotel brand.
We all see the problems with reduced competition, it is abundantly clear. When Marriott first announced the planned takeover of Starwood hotels, those of us who have been a part of Starwood as a very loyal customer knew this would not end well for us. Despite these reservations, Marriott management attempted to sell us the story that they would make Marriott Rewards better. Interviews showed executive officers talking about how they knew that the SPG program was highly valued, much more so than their own program.
Did any of us actually believe that Marriott would change their lower value program to match the value of SPG? I know that my expectations were set quite low, and for good reason it seems. Marriott is now merged with Starwood and the most we've seen added to their program is some events like SPG Moments, something I have yet to take advantage of, and guaranteed late checkout. Despite these additions, we still see Marriott playing games with late checkout, and there's serious questions on if they'll actually honor it without charging customers. I've never had a single issue with late or early checkout/check-in at an SPG hotel.
This highlights the problems with mergers like this. Marriott is merely giving SPG customers lip service and promising things they never deliver or do deliver, just poorly. We've seen no hints of additional value being added to Marriott points, or partnering with airlines in the way that Starwood has. There in lies the biggest slap in the face too. One of the single most valuable parts of the SPG program is their partnership with airlines, and Marriott has one good partnership with United, outside of that it is pretty lackluster.
So here we stand as loyal customers to Starwood. Our loyalty thrown out the window to satisfy the need to grow bigger and bigger. We still have over a year for Marriott to add value, but I do not expect to see much from Marriott. They've played their hand, and I'm not impressed, which is why I will not remain loyal with them.