Travel packages bookable through August 17th. Marriott & SPG to tie the loyalty knot on Saturday August 18th


Marriott has finally announced the specific date when the loyalty programs will merge: August 18th 2018And we have just confirmed with Marriott that Travel Packages will be bookable through August 17th! 

Check out our updated Marriott SPG Transition Guide.

Questions not yet answered (but we’re trying!):

  • What will happen to travel package stay certificates that haven’t been applied to a stay prior to August 18th?
  • How many Starpoints per dollar will the SPG credit cards earn between August 1 and August 17?
  • We previously believed that it was necessary to earn Marriott Gold status by the end of July in order to get Platinum status with the merged program.  Do we now have until August 17th to do so?  For example, if we sign up for the Ritz card before August 18th, would we get Marriott Gold which converts to new program Platinum?
  • What will happen to members mid-stay on the changeover date? e.g. Marriott Gold staying at a St. Regis from Aug 14-20. Will they start getting breakfast mid-stay?

Following are the contents of an email I received from Marriott PR regarding the program merger date, along with my thoughts in italics and blue

Great news. On August 18 a new era will begin for the 110 million members of Marriott International’s award-winning loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). For the first time since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, the programs will operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency spanning the entire loyalty portfolio of 29 brands and more than 6,500 participating hotels in 127 countries.

I’ve outlined the details of the changes below, including important dates and tips that members can use to maximize their benefits before August 18. While we have communicated all of the new Elite tiers, and benefits, this afternoon members will start to learn the programs launch date as well as the information below.

On August 18, members can expect the following program changes:

  • On August 18, members with Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts will be able to combine their accounts into one, creating a unified profile with one points balance (Starpoints will be multiplied by three), and Elite-Nights earned.
    • Book, earn and redeem across the portfolio of 29 participating brand, 6500 hotels in 127 countries all in one place, on any of our digital, mobile and voice reservation channels including and
      • A new SPG app will launch, mirroring the functionality of the Marriott Rewards app, including Mobile Requests.
        Great. We get more buggy Marriott technology.  The good news is that it should still be possible to beg for upgrades electronically (see this post)
    • Earn more points:
      • 10 points per dollar spent for stays (except 5 points per dollar spent at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Element and 2.5 points per dollar spent at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay properties)
        Why does Marriott allows have to complicate things with exceptions for certain brands?
      • On average members will earn 20% more points per dollar
        As long as you don’t count a reduction in points awarded as an elite welcome gift, this is true.
      • Full-folio earn on room rates, restaurant and bars and qualifying incidentals charged to the room
      • SPG members will see their points balance triple
        This is true, but a little misleading since they are converting Starpoints into rewards points
    • Achieve Elite status faster with new qualifying tiers:
      • Members can enjoy new benefits and elite status levels
      • More properties to choose from to achieve status
      • New for SPG members – Silver Elite status at 10 nights; new for Marriott Rewards members – Gold Elite status at 25 nights and Platinum Elite status at 50 nights.
      • Combining accounts means some members will have enough nights to qualify for higher elite status.
    • Easier to redeem everywhere and for less
      • Nearly 70% of properties are getting less expensive or staying the same when redeeming points for free stays with the new award chart announced last month (52 percent of hotels will move to a lower redemption rate and only 31 percent will go higher.)
        Uh, sure.  See: Marriott’s Sleight Of Hand: Category Changes Worse Than Advertised.
      • Members can redeem for stays using the new Free Night Award Chart
      • Category eight hotels can be booked at category seven rates throughout 2018
        Yes, this is a sweet deal.
      • Introduction of off-peak and peak rates on top of standard in 2019 will make sought-after properties more affordable
        Um, that’s optimistic. Most of us think it will make sought-after properties less affordable when they decide that peak = January through December.
      • No blackout dates
        What this really means is that legacy Marriott hotels can continue to withhold standard rooms from award inventory whenever they want to — they’re just not allowed to call it “blackout dates” when they do so.

All SPG members will receive a new 9-digit account number that aligns with the specifications of the new system.  The new account number will appear through a pop-up when they log into their account. Passwords will stay the same (unless the member elects to change it themselves). Some members of Marriott Rewards will also receive a new account number. These members will receive an email with their new account information or a call from our customer engagement centers.

Important to note, on August 18 starting early morning (U.S. Eastern Time) our sites and apps will periodically be unavailable as we migrate our systems to one, new platform. This means during this planned system transition there will be times when no one can make a booking, and times when we will only be accepting credit card bookings. As a result of those particular instances, members will not be able to book a redemption stay or have their member number attached to their reservation.

In other words: All hell will break loose on August 18th.  Go hide somewhere until the dust settles.

To help members navigate the different dates, we’ve assembled a few pro-tips:

  • Between now and August 18, members should maximize their redemption power by checking out the previously published Free Night Award Chart and deciding if they want to redeem before or after the new rates take effect.
    Good advice.  See: Book these now: Top properties going UP in August
  • Anticipate the outage on August 18 and book their stays in advance or wait until later in the day.
    Did we mention that all hell will break loose on August 18th?

Thanks and let me know if you have any questions.


Dan Forman
Marriott International
Senior Director – Loyalty, Digital, Marketing Innovation PR

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