We’re all familiar with lies, damn lies, and statistics. Well Pizza in Motion highlights this whopper from Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson during the chain’s earnings call:
In a recent survey of Bonvoy members by an eight to one margin. Respondent said, they preferred the new Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program over either Marriott Rewards or SPG.
No one I know was surveyed. No one I know prefers the current loyalty program over the old one by such a large margin. The best I can come up with is that the sample for this survey consisted of:
- ex-Marriott Rewards Platinums
- Who now have an Ambassador
- And rated their Ambassador highly on a separate survey
The new program has higher redemption prices than Marriott Rewards. It has weaker elite recognition than Starwood Preferred Guest. There is virtually no enforcement of elite benefits at the property level, at best paying our rewards to hotels for elite satisfaction scores. The great SPG benefits of 24 hour check-in (that used to come at 75 nights) and a dedicated Ambassador (that used to come at 100 nights) both require $20,000 annual spend.
To be fair, the old Marriott Rewards had little in the way of elite benefits to speak of – guaranteed late check-out didn’t come until after Marriott acquired Starwood. And Starwood’s rebate for in-hotel spending was weaker than what Marriott offers today. But there used to be a credit card worth spending money on over on the Starwood side.
In the past Arne Sorenson has claimed that massive IT problems with the program integration were just ‘noise around the edges’. They weren’t, and seeing what program lead David Flueck looked like before the integration and after you can tell the toll that it took.
Sorenson also says resort fees are good for you and represent great value – which, if true, would mean they didn’t need to be mandatory.
Bill Marriott said the purpose of the merger was to give Marriott scale and leverage and I noted at the time this included leverage over customers. I told Arne Sorenson I didn’t believe him when he said they were going to create a more valuable program that would be the only one you’d ever need. Indeed the truth is that the new program is designed to cost Marriott less than before.
Do you like Marriott Bonvoy more than both Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest? I’d love to see if we’ve got an 8-to-1 margin here… or if this is just Sorenson being Sorenson.