PHOTO: The St. Regis Bora Bora, a new destination to Marriott Rewards members following the merger with Starwood (Photo courtesy of Marriott International)
Since Starwood merged with Marriott International earlier this year, we haven’t seen much buzz in the way of promotions or program differences, as Marriott is likely busy picking through all of the data associated with SPG now that they have full access to it. It was impressive how quickly they offered account linking and reciprocal elite status benefits, but it wasn’t until this month that they rolled out a global promotion that was essentially the same across all three programs.
Members of each program still have to register separately (Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards members will register in the program they’ve chosen, since concurrent memberships aren’t possible) but there’s a little bit of value in the fact that the programs and brands have remained separate, for now.
SPG Double Take (Registration Link) is offering double points on your first three stays from Jan. 16 to April 15, 2017. Once you register, you’ll receive a targeted offer with options for earning even more bonus points. During 2016, Starwood has been offering promos mostly for multi-night stays with bigger bonuses for weekend stays, so their offers have been most lucrative for long weekenders—it’s refreshing to see stays count for double points regardless of length. They’re also not excluding any properties here—every single SPG property is included in this promotion.
Marriott Mega Bonus (Registration Link) requires separate registration (since the programs remain separate) as does Ritz-Carlton Rewards (Registration Link) but the promotion remains the same—double points on the first three stays. Now Marriott has a couple more caveats, as their program is slightly more complicated. Your earning preference must be points (not miles) to qualify, and Marriott excludes Marriot Executive Apartments (which normally participates in Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards) and Ritz-Carlton Reserve and BVLGARI properties (which do not participate in the programs at all).
It’s important to remember that elite status qualification also remains separate for now, and it may not be wise to split your stays between programs if you have your eye on qualifying or re-qualifying for elite status (which is automatically matched in the other program). Because of this, it may be worthwhile to forgo double points in one program in order to keep the steady march toward status alive in the other, or be prepared to embark on a mattress run.
It makes sense for Marriott to offer a promotion for this period—winter and early spring is an almost worldwide trough for hotel room demand, and many properties are likely seeing lower occupancy, which makes incentivizing even one-night stays a good contributor to the bottom line. What’s notable here is that the programs are offering the same bonus, which appears to be an enticement for members of both programs to split their allegiance between them, almost as a “get acquainted” plea.
I’ll likely be sticking to SPG, my preferred program (I find elite benefits are more generous and earning status easier to begin with) but the bonus might also be a good excuse to check out properties in geographic areas where your preferred program doesn’t have much of a presence, like Aruba for SPG or The Maldives for Marriott.
-Originally published in Travel Pulse News SCOTT LAIRD | DECEMBER 16, 2016
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