Ask Anthony: Thoughts on the Marriott-Starwood Merger?

Anthony Melchiorri, host and creator of Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible and Five Star Secrets, loves dishing out advice. From sharing best practices to tackling operational issues, he’s here to answer your questions.

What are your thoughts on the Marriott and Starwood merger?
While the merger is still in its infancy, a combined $19 billion in revenues and 346,000 employees is quite significant. There are two ways to look at the deal; from the employee standpoint and then that of the guest. Employees have a tremendous opportunity to grow with such a vast network of hotels. Keeping one’s head low and eyes open and taking advantage of those possibilities will no doubt offer plenty of advancement opportunities.

From the guest standpoint, the company’s frequent stay programs have to be blended in such a way that Starwood Preferred Guests don’t lose status and value just because they are being incorporated into the Marriott Rewards program. And, considering Marriott’s 4,300 hotels to Starwood’s 1,300, this has to be done delicately. No doubt some changes will have to be made; for example, a guaranteed 4 p.m. check out becomes more difficult with 75 million program members.

While it will take a year or two, constant communication with loyalty members is critical. Both companies are likely ironing out the kinks on a revised program for everyone to see and understand. The key to success will be timing. Loyal guests might use the time between now and then to build up benefits and status with competitors. The game today is all about the loyalty of the guest and the sooner the details emerge the better, for everyone.


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