Written By: Chris Austin, Vice President of Global Leisure and Luxury Sales, Starwood Hotel and Resorts
By now you’re sure to have heard the much anticipated news that Marriott International has officially welcomed Starwood Hotels & Resorts into its family, creating the world’s largest and we aim best hotel company.
As a combined company, for now, Marriott and Starwood sales teams will continue to sell our respective legacy brands through 2016 and into the 1Q17, which means you can expect business as usual. Our teams are focused as always on delivering extraordinary experiences to our customers and their travelers at our combined company’s more than 5,700 hotels around the world across our 30 brands.
Many members of the Travel Professional Community are also active members of our SPG® Pro travel professional loyalty program. Our loyalty programs will run in parallel for the foreseeable future, and we are ready to assist travel professionals with all SPG, SPG Pro, SPG Business, and Luxury Privileges needs. SPG Pro members will continue to earn Starpoints® for any eligible Starwood bookings and as a new feature – you and your SPG member clients are now able to redeem rewards for either Starwood or Marriott hotels, offering our customers even more choice for their rewards. Please make sure that as an SPG Pro, you also link your account with the Marriott Rewards program in order to gain access to these additional hotel rewards.
For your clients, we have already addressed the loyalty programs. Loyalty programs are more relevant than ever, and we take loyalty so seriously that on Day One of our united company, we made sure all of our combined loyalty members could immediately link their accounts. Starwood and Marriott loyalty members can link their accounts at www.members.marriott.com to receive a status match from the other program and transfer points. (For example, SPG Platinum members can now enjoy status as a Marriott Rewards Platinum as soon as their accounts are linked. Members can also transfer points between programs with each Starpoint being the equivalent to three Marriott points.) Your clients can also earn and redeem points throughout the entire network. We continue to hear exceptional feedback from members in both programs. We will operate them as separate-but-equal programs for now; it’s still too early to discuss future plans.
For those of you who might not have attended the recent American Society of Travel Agents Global Conference, our CEO, Arne Sorenson was presented with ASTA’s 2016 Hotelier of the Year award during the convention in Reno. Being recognized with this award by the travel professional community underscores where we want to be with travel professionals. We cannot emphasize enough that travel pros provide extraordinary value to corporate and leisure travelers, so we want to help them be successful so that we can succeed together.
In addition, I was honored to be recognized as Allied Supplier of the Year by the travel professional community. Thanks to all of you who recognized the continued dedication of our team to your business and your future success.
We have begun the work of assessing organizational and account management strategies that work best for our customers and guests going forward.
As we go through the process of looking at our organizational structure, we plan to engage in a dialogue with the travel pro community so we understand your concerns.
This is an exciting time as we form the largest and best hospitality company in the world. We now have more opportunities and more choices for our valued travel professional partners, with 30 brands across more than 5,700 hotels and resorts in more than 110 countries. In addition, we are the largest operator of luxury hotels with nearly 400 hotels in the portfolio and a resorts network that puts us where you and your clients wish to travel. Stay tuned as we will continue to keep you in the know with all of the exciting changes ahead. Thank you for your past, present and future support of our hotels and resorts. Your business is truly valued at this very important time.