Marriott CEO: People Prefer Bonvoy Over Starwood 8-to-1

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This isn’t a real statistic. It’s just a damn lie. I’m one that couldn’t stand the noise around the edges and have moved to Hilton. Better, nope. Just more certainty and more honesty.

  2. Obviously the Marriott CEO is sadly misguided. They’ve managed to destroy the vastly more popular SPG program.

    Count me a someone with no preference for Marriott, having moved most of my stays to Hyatt where practical.

    I’m certain the Marriott apologists will jump in to paint everything as rosy, but the bottom line registers the disappointment of previous regulars who are booking elsewhere.

  3. This is beyond a damn lie…… he is in a state of altered reality. They never asked me….probably they were afraid to hear what I would say.
    At the end of the day, the only salvaging of this merger, is a divorce. Actually an annulment since they still have it screwed up.

  4. @ Gary — This is shocking. I will not even consider Marriott when booking a hotel. IHG, Hyatt, and Hilton have me covered at about 99.99%.

  5. 100+ paid nights a year with Starwood now 0 yes 0 with Bonvoy(ed). Being lifetime titanium won’t do me much good – but the program STINKS now.
    I do have one thing to thank him for, though, reminding me how lovely independent hotels can be and what value they often offer – so I end up paying less and getting better value!

  6. you all are missing the mark here…I’m sure what he said is 100% correct. Let’s analyze this a little.

    If he asks 10 SPG loyalists if they prefer Bonvoy over SPG the results would be 0/10.

    If he polls 10 Marriott Rewards loyalists 10/10 would prefer Bonvoy.

    I’ve never flown Hawaiian Airlines but have flown Delta a bunch. Which airline do I prefer? Delta, of course. Y’all seem to need some sort of stats analysis lesson…

  7. There’s a logical explanation. You heard the news that Starwood was hacked some time back. Clearly the hackers answered the surveys in lieu of real members, and came out 8-to-1 due to all the free nights they scored.

  8. If I say this is BS am I alone !! What crap Marriott like most major flags are in a steep decline they’re so concerned with “door counts” that the franchise department over looks everything wrong..

  9. Wonder if he and Doug Parker hang out together on the weekends to come up with this nonsense.

  10. He is either smoking weed or his cancer meds are clouding his brain. This SPG Plat lifetimer still hates Marriott properties and the Bonvoy benefits are just not there imho.

  11. I had the Starwood business card and consumer card which were both converted into Marriott credit cards. I canceled both because I hate this new program. Also two good friends of mine are eliminating their Marriott cards within the next two months. I really miss Starwood’s program.

  12. Feh! This is like listening to AA’s CEO Parker in his parallel universe, third dimension squawk.

    Nothing was better than Starwood-in USA, and as I marveled, in Europe.

    I remember how after Marriott picked off Ritz Carlton, the F&B at their site at Amelia Island deteriorated to the fullest.

    Remember how United in the 1980s was to evolve into a full transpo company with its subsidiary Western International hotels? Well, AA and Marriott deserve each other these days!

  13. Not sure where these stats came from. CEO must have his head in the sand 24/7. My status level dropped from platinum elite to gold elite for no reason. Customer service professionalism is now nonexistent. Marriott employees all indicate the Starwood merger and change to Bonvoy is a nightmare. They deal with complaints daily. Once loyal customers now seeking out other brands.

  14. Bonvoy is a huge disappointment versus Marriott Rewards. Plain and simple.

    I received no such survey either.

  15. Just proves that 60% of stats are made up.

    There isn’t a SINGLE THING that Bonvoy has over SPG. And the door you hear slamming behind you is all the SPG members leaving for other programs.

  16. I’m not usually one for hyperbole, but this is Bullpoop. Bovoy has some advantages over Marriott Rewards, but is so vastly inferior to SPG that comments like these (including “Noise around the edges” and those about resort fees) make me distrust not only Sorensen, but all of Mariott. Arne, this isn’t “1984”. We are able to see and understand the truth for ourselves, no matter how often you try to tell us we should believe you over our own eyes. I value honesty in my relationships with people and corporations. You are actively damaging your brand, not enhancing it.

  17. If Hyatt were to use SPG as a template and duplicate what they did, i think you would see a mass exoudus from Bonvoy that would help to fuel a Hyatt growth spurt. I will make the transition to hyatt or hilton shortly once i burn through my 3 million plus points

  18. typical corporate lie. Marriott watched as Hilton gutted its program a few years ago and was still raking in $$$. So Marriott figured why not do the same thing to reduce expense for MR.

    I was not a huge fan of old SPG as midlevel elite perks were worse than Marriott. But at least I could earn points easily with SPG Amex and redeem for Cat 4-7 at reasonable pricing. Now Marriott reduced my gold perks and increase the price of awards. So I find it highly unlikely anyone is happy with this lose/lose scenario except maybe top level elites who got suite redemptions as a bone.

  19. I would prefer they keep the programs separate but convertible, just like the initial transition period.

    My Ritz Carlton card isn’t as good for high spending. The physical card is less luxury.

    SPG had better CCs. Marriott earning rate improved. Wish they kept lifetime Titanium. Upgrades are harder.

  20. I like Marriott so much I stopped staying with them and canceled my credit card. Top notch! (New Hilton at T2 LHR is very handy, btw.)

  21. What a joke! I was Lifetime Platinum with SPG and was treated extremely well. On my last big trip to Greece before Marriott ruined the program, my friend and I used points to stay at Luxury Collection hotels like Vedema in Santorini & King George in Athens. The year before it was Blue Palace in Crete & Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens. We returned because we had been treated like Princesses. SPG Rewards not only took 4 nights on points/5th free, but upgraded us to a 2 bedroom suite at HGB and bilevel in Crete. On points! When we returned it was to the best service imaginable.

    Now the hotels are higher categories and Lifetime Plat means nothing. I stayed at a few Marriott properties and still am shocked by the awful treatment. Suites? Never. One property in NYC rented me a room that didn’t exist!

    Sorry, rant over. But BonVoy is worse than I ever expected. It’s not even close to SPG. But they don’t care. That’s exactly how I feel- the people running BonVoy don’t care.

  22. I really miss Starwood. Marriott took a dry-aged steak and ground it into a hamburger. Still good, but no longer special.

  23. Just in he mind, no only they destroyed the SPG program, they monopolize the rate and destroy competition in the business, I don’t understand why the Government allowed this acquisition.

  24. Why is it that CEOs become delusional and blind? The program has lost value… for the customers.

  25. Bonvoy sucks. All the great hotels from SPG are triple what they used to be and Marriott properties need massive updating. That headline/survey is fake news.

  26. I loved my SPG!
    Can’t say Ive felt the same with my new card.
    My points get me nothing compared to what I used to get.
    I feel a bit scammed.
    I worked so hard to build my points.

    Now I just use Priceline.

  27. SPG was really great. BONVOY is not. No free breakfast and variable rates…and takes more points for stays. Welcome points are a joke and some hotels give less points overall than before! SPG started to cost too much for the CEO.

  28. Yeah, there’s probably 87.5% of the people who prefer a program that still allows redemptions over one that doesn’t anymore…

  29. Halarious. Titanium here (formerly ambassador/plat for last 15 years). I’ve never met a human being who prefers this disaster to Starwood.

  30. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State (Bonvoy Marriott) can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

    Attributed to Goebbels and now adopted by Arne Sorenson

    Can you publish his email address so we can thank him personally?

  31. Professionally speaking – the only way to get to this 8:1 output is:
    – non-representative sample
    – biased questioning

    Arne is flat out lying (or in the age of Trump and his band of grifters, presenting “alternative facts”)

  32. Hi there from Sunny Singapore! Yes I totally agree that the new Marriott program sucks Nothing like SPG! I am now supporting IHG n Hyatt more So Bonvoy please make things right ‍♀️

  33. So disappointed in Bonvoy after years as a Gold on SPG!

    8:1 in favor of Bonvoy is a massive stretch!

  34. Why doesn’t Marriott offer anyone who wants to go back to the old Starwood system? Since almost nobody will choose that, Marriott will prove just how superior Bonvoy is by comparison.

  35. The way Trump, his family, and his acolytes spin the facts — claiming what they want the world to believe is true regardless of its variance with reality — appears to be contagious. Sorensen’s claim is laughable. He may be able to point toward a slanted, stilted, unrepresentative “sample” as the source of his nonsense, but anyone who’s dealt with/experienced both SPG and Bonvoy will not be fooled. Like others in the thread above, I’ve learned the pleasures of independent luxury hotels and no longer give my loyalty to an undeserving brand as I did to SPG.

  36. Some of his board members should see this, and kick the Sorensen guy in his balls for corporate lying which seems to be a common trait amongst CEO’s who have overstayed their effectiveness. I have him at about the same level as the Parker guy and the Muilenberg denier.

    I received no survey. And am only Bonvoy member because I already was SPG member. Bonvoy nights booked in 2019: 1.
    The SPG program was great to the extent I would go out of my way to stay with them and collect my nights. Which I did for many years and earned me a nice status. As my 2019 Bonvoy history shows: I don’t care at all anymore and just book through OTA’s now.

  37. Yep titanium this year was reached but I never like to use points for a hotel. They are so much less than SPGs value. I miss the good days of spg.

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