Marriott’s revamped loyalty program shows it’s taking its customers seriously
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Marriott’s revamped loyalty program shows it’s taking its customers seriously

The world’s largest luxury hotelier, Marriott International, has finally unveiled its new loyalty program, which promises richer rewards for its customers at less cost to hotel operators. The announcement, which came on Monday, has been on the cards since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the latter months of 2016. Starwood’s members were notoriously fond of its reward scheme, and there were worries that Marriott would strip it back. This week, the company showed that excitement, not concern, was the appropriate emotion.

graph 1804 marriott

 

SOURCE: Bloomberg

Marriott has responded to customers’ desire for a strong loyalty program in the simplest way possible: by giving it to them. David Flueck, Marriott’s senior vice president in charge of loyalty, said that existing loyalty scheme members had “a lot of anxiety around what’s going to happen when you merge the programs. What will be welcome news, and almost surprising, is that we didn’t use this as a time to make the programs less rich – we’re actually investing more in our members.”

This isn’t hugely surprising when you look at Marriott’s financial figures. More than half of the company’s room revenue comes from loyalty members, many of whom cut out the middleman and book their rooms directly with the company. These 110 million people have, therefore, demonstrated their worth – and Marriott’s eager to look after them. That’s why the company’s CEO, Arne Sorenson, told listeners on a recent earnings call that Marriott’s loyalty program was “the name of the game for the future.”

Marriott’s trading up this week, with a 3% share price appreciation over 5 days

graph 1804 marriott 2

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

The features of the new scheme, which will take effect in August, include a number of perks that customers will rightly be impressed by. It will utilize a “common currency” meaning members can redeem their points across the full range of 29 brands under the company’s control. It will also let them redeem their points for a range of “Marriott Moments” – an experiential approach to luxury purchases, like concert tickets, sporting events, and other “curated experiences”.

This incredible program – which includes a number of other benefits – is poised to not only consolidate Marriott’s current customer base, but is a tempting offer to those outside its borders. Gary Leff, author of the travel-industry blog View from the Wing, said the program “is the best possible program that anyone could have reasonably expected.” He continued: “Starwood was strong on the elite side, Marriott was stronger on earning and redemption. They have basically stapled the Starwood elite program onto a version of Marriott’s earn-and-burn proposition.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Marriott International in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.


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