Marriott CEO Talks Merged Loyalty Program

After Starwood Hotels & Resorts accepted Marriott International’s sweetened $13.6 billion merger offer, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson hopped on an analyst call from Cuba yesterday to discuss the new deal, which has a meaningfully higher cash component to it. In addition to leveraging economies of scale, Marriott sees tremendous opportunity to create value through the merger. One of the most profound advantages is the combination of Marriott Rewards and Starwood’s Preferred Guest into one loyalty program, Sorenson said. Initially, Marriott expects to run parallel loyalty programs, but in the longer term, a combined platform will benefit from Starwood’s affluent customers in the lifestyle and luxury segments and Marriott’s relationships with frequent business travelers, Travel Weekly writes. By investing in one platform, Marriott expects to accelerate spending on the program’s infrastructure and tools to help personalize customer relationships. Loyal Starwood customers, especially those with upper-tier elite status, have expressed concern that their points will be worth less when the rewards programs are combined. But first, let’s make sure the Marriott deal closes. Read more here.

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