Dust Begins to Settle in Marriott-Starwood Loyalty Program IT Merger

Reception, Hotel Bristol, Warsaw

By Anna Breuer on 23 August 2018
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The monumental task of combining billions of data points for the 110 million members of Marriott International’s three guest loyalty programs into a unified platform was fraught with peril but, after the main integration work was completed over the weekend, things are beginning to settle down.

With perhaps one keystroke but thousands of man hours of work, Marriott combined Starwood Preferred Guests, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Marriott Rewards into one, as-of-yet unnamed, new program with a unified set of benefits and rules.

Problems noted on Marriott’s public-facing status page for the IT merger indicate that all is well as of press time.  Earlier, the site reported intermittent issues with its web sites as well as with its voice reservations systems, which were also being upgraded.  It also noted that “associates at our general reservations phone numbers are unable to access member profiles or make reservations with points.”

Multiple FBT staffers reported they were unable to log into their SPG accounts on Monday although Marriott Rewards accounts were accessible.  Dozens of members of the popular frequent-flyer discussion forum FlyerTalk.com reported that their SPG points and/or nights, as well as those from Marriott, were not showing up in combined accounts.  A very common issue was that many accounts displayed the wrong elite status for the member, in some cases a higher status, in some cases lower.

The hotelier had originally planned to merge the programs on August 1. It doesn’t plan to announce the new name of the program until 2019. Until then, the unified program will operate under the three current names.

It was fortuitous that Marriott chose to wait until the relatively quiet dog days of summer in late August to undertake the massive project, although people are still getting in last-minute vacations and planning trips to accompany children to university.

“Now you can reserve, earn and redeem across 6,500 extraordinary hotels,” Marriott said in a message on its website. “The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and SPG are now a unified program.”

While the programs are unified, members’ point balances are not. Perhaps to ensure that it happened over time, Marriott chose to require members to merge their accounts together manually. It is allowing members to decide if they wish to keep their Marriott Rewards membership number or their SPG number, although Marriott unexpectedly assigned each SPG member a new number over the weekend.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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