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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Just plain BS. Lifetime SPG Plat, burning points, cancelled credit card,. Acquired Hilton card and kept Hyatt., have not spent a dime with Marriott’s chain in 8mos.

  2. Leave it to a deranged liberal Scott B, to make this political, dragging in his TDS into the conversation. Scott grow up.

  3. Just plain BS. Lifetime SPG Plat, burning points, cancelled credit card,. Acquired Hilton card and kept Hyatt., have not spent a dime with Marriott’s chain in 8mos.

  4. I have no issues with the new program. I actually like the website and phone app is quite easy to use. I am 2 months from lifetime silver and trading in my points for free nights with the wife for our anniversary worked really well.

  5. Wow. Talk about “head in The sand”. How obtuse can you get. Bonvoy sucks and has turned into a bait and switch company. Case in point:
    I wanted to use points for a 5 night stay in Tokyo. Total cost 275000 points. As I went to finalize the reservation I navigated to the appropriate site to purchase the 25000 points. Done
    Imagine my surprise the next morning when my reservation was not finalized because the “new” reservation required a whopping 340,000 points. Calls to the platinum elite line fell on unsympathetic ears. I was reminded that Bonvoy has dynamic pricing and while my points waited to post the price went up.
    So so wrong. First of all “waiting” for points to post is laughable in today’s computer age. You charge my credit card immediately but I have to wait? And then you raise the price? Never again. Go “F$&*”” yourself Bonvoy

  6. I have spent a third of my year in Marriott hotels, currently I have 122 room nights and I am still traveling.
    Here is what I have learned: upgrades do not happen. Most of the time I don’t even get my preference as noted on my account. The rooms temperature is remote from the room so you now need to sleep in the temperature someone has selected for you.Unless you ask for something no thought I’d put into making your stay extra special. i don’t see any benefit other than the points and now that process has become complicated. I am considering a new chain next year. It will take time to get to where I am with Marriott but I think it might be worth it.

  7. One more point: during my call tp Marriott they repeatedly told me that my room wasn’t even available using points. It did not matter that I was staring at the checkout screen that said my reservation required 340,000 points. This time I instantaneously transferred Amex membership points (a horrible redemption I know but I was desperate. Should have done that in the first place). and completed the reservation as they chirped in my ear that the room wasn’t available.
    Sigh. I truly got Bonvoyed.
    I hope someone takes the time to read this and learns from my mistake Re purchasing points and dynamic pricing

  8. Bonvoy is horrible. Lifetime Platinum with 2019 $36,000 spend and 214 nights so far (123 paid). 2021 will be very spend and 100% points burn if 2020 is not better than 2019.

  9. I hate dynamic pricing! Add in seriously devalued points and rare upgrades, how can anyone (other than Marriott management) think this is better?

  10. Total rubbish. Marriott is terrible in comparison. I am Platinum for life and regret wasting my life getting it based on current construct. Its United and Continental all over again!

  11. 8 to 1? Really? The point redemption increases alone make that statement preposterous. Starwood was a great program. I miss it.

  12. I am not a “hotel points guy” by any means. I don’t really care about the hotel brand, although I do have a list of “acceptables” that a hotel needs to deliver on for me to book it: proximity to work location or airport, 3 or 4 stars, points exchange with my frequent flyer programs, cost.

    I stayed at a Marriott last week for the first time in a very long time. Upon checking in, they asked if I was a Bonvoy member. I said I used to be a Marriott member and with that number it turned out I was “Bonvoyed”.

    It was late and I had done a lot of flying so I ordered room service. They told me that they now do things differently, in that they don’t serve room service on a trolley or tray anymore, but boxed in a bag. OK… And that there was a $5 delivery charge, unless you were willing to pick the meal up yourself. WHAT??

    So not only has Marriott gone Bonvoy, they have also gone Deliveroo/Uber Eats. What a scam!!

    PS It was a California based property so I don’t know if that has any significance to this. They also still had the individual mini plastic toiletries.

  13. At 170 nights plus paid in 2019. About 17500 spend. Rule if I’m checked in at Albany for the month go into the city for the weekend cannot earn points and credit at both properties. Huh…anyways upgrades not as expected front desk clerks making decisions when there is open rooms but no upgrades online. Burn points this winter and head back over to Hilton in 2020. Adios Bonvoy.

  14. Wrong by my standard. Starwood was way,way better. Starwood made you feel welcomed and valued. Even room 0roducts were better.

  15. Been Lifetime SPG for 16 years and not a single dollar was paid by my companies or credit cards, since they don’t work here in Portugal. This said, I always felt very welcome at any of the SPG properties, was almost every time upgraded and got nice little welcome gifts at every hotel.
    This said, I have been waiting for more than a year for my new Lifetime Titanium Card, for which I had to fight for, through inumerous emails, phone calls, etc.
    So I wonder how Mr. Sorensen can make such silly a statement !!!

  16. Can’t type…laughing too hard…HA, HA, HA…good one…what? I’d prefer Bonvoy over being burned alive or having my skin stripped off, but anything else…who is he kidding!

  17. @carlh. Is that burned alive or skin scraped off credit card going to have a welcome bonus? Is it Capital One?

  18. I loved Starwood!! And I hate Bonvoy. Starwood points were worth THREE TIMES Marriott. Now, they take away Starwood SPG and give us Bonvoy Credit Card and we get 1/3 the points. For a month they lost the stay which put me into Platinum Elite. Have to watch them like a hawk to make sure you’re getting your points, value, etc.

  19. Was a loyal Starwood member. After all the Bonvoy changes and increased points needed to get a free stay, I switched to Hyatt. Will never go back to Bonvoy.

  20. We thought they the bonvoy would be better until we booked a trip in Atantic City and a couple weeks before my husband and I was discussing about seeing if we might can split the vacation. I picked up the phone to call and they didn’t even have us down for our trip it had been cancelled they say do to we not having enough points. We should have been notified by phone of this but when I called that’s when we found out. We were very upset about this they said they sent an email. That should have been a verbal conversation because we could have went on this trip which is about 12 hours for us just to find out we didn’t have a place to stay so guess what we had to do since it was late we had to go stay where we’ve stayed almost every other year in Florida because they said nothing was available closer to us. We didn’t like that not one bit

  21. 100% rubbish. SPG far better.
    The integration of programmes is still not complete. Many tech glitches that you would notice. SPG staff way better trained.

  22. I hate the new Bonvoy programs system, valuations and interfaces. Lifetime Titanium Elite here with 14 straight years of Marriott Platinum status achieved.

  23. Starwood was way better than the now Bonvoy. Starwood made you feel welcomed and as if they valued you as a customer. Someone needs to look into this. Word of mouth is everything and if people do not feel valued and special while spending their hard earned money they will find some where else to spend it.

  24. I do not like the Marriott Bonvoy program. Redemption is more expensive and difficult, and upgrades are almost impossible. I have not come across anyone that is a fan. I miss SPG.

  25. Bonvoy is so bad, I would probably prefer Best Western or Comfort Inn’s program to them. Fortunately there are better options. I will be cancelling my Bonvoy card at the one year mark. ALL FOUR OF THEM. No need to waste credit on a company with no respect or concern for customer loyalty.

    PS: With a CEO with his head up his ass, it is not going to get any better.

  26. Not only are my points worth less, Marriott has black out hotels with points. Sheraton never did that. Ditching my credit cards and moving on. Their are better reward programs out there that make you feel rewarded instead of second class.

  27. I rant whatever it is that Arne is smoking so I can hallucinate too. I was LT Platinum with SPG now LT Titanium with Bonvoy (combined LT nights with both programs). Bonvoy had been such a disappoint coming from SPG. Like others have said, upgrades to something of value are few and fear between. SNAs are a joke! I haven’t had 1 clear this year. Oh how I long for the days of SPG.

  28. Every week I miss SPG 🙁
    I’ve been Bonvoyed so many times. Having to pay more in points to stay at some of the properties that aren’t worth it. Stay (no, not browse on the web) at the new wing of the Jaffa Hotel in Tel Aviv and seriously tell me it’s a level 7?!?!? So many other examples. Marriott pushes you to use the web to make reservations or any kind of changes but then when it doesn’t go through they tell you you should have called. WTH?!??? Also, they don’t have the point calculations worked out because if you change a reservation from high season to low season, 4 months later they still have not adjusted your balance. It gets annoying to always have to take screenshots to keep a company honest. Customer service does not respond to email inquiries. Their foreign country reps who do email do not understand English and do the opposite of what you requested. Their in-country customer service phone numbers (like in the Middle East) do not work so you have to call the US while on travel. I was never surveyed. REALLY wish I was. Hey, if any of you know Arne, please pass this along – he’s full of BS. SPG was a far better program and its customer service was out of this world.

  29. There is things I like and things I dislike.

    Like:
    1. more elite levels and their bonus earnings,
    2. access to a lot more hotels around the world,
    3. Your Choice Benefits (choose a gift at 50 / 75 nights)

    Dislike:
    1. The name, Bonvoy,
    2. Dynamic pricing for point redemptions,
    3. Marriott’s moves to strip lounges for the elites,
    4. Not allowing members to achieve lifetime titanium status,
    5. New credit card offers,
    6. Weaker MegaBonus promotions,
    7. Most promotion codes have been deactivated or simply made incredibly expensive for nothing,
    8. Points have been devaluated
    9. After your first meeting, no more 10 EQNs.

    So the results are in: I dislike the new program more than I like it. Even merging everyone in either SPG or MR would’ve been a better move than this.

  30. Total bull crap. No one I know likes it. It’s so good that must be why I made IHG gold months ago and will continue using SPG (bonvoy is truly the stupidest name) as my second tier hotel. I’m titanium elite for life already so I’m losing nothing and certainly gaining nothing by staying.

  31. Hands down a worse program. As stated. It all started by never admitting the integration issues. It took seven weeks to transfer points which are now sitting unused at LH! Apologies, no! It is not in their arrogant minds. BTW, I am at Ambassador level which was a lot better under SPG.

  32. New program much worse – Under SPG, if there was a room available for cash there was a room available for points. Tried booking a room with points and there was no availability, they only wanted cash customers.

  33. Bonvoy SUCKS!!! I am a SPG and Marriott Platinum Lifetime member now Titanium and the level of treatment has dropped tremendously. 8 to 1? Hmmm, sounds like the polls that Hillary had when she was running for President.. Welcome Hilton!

  34. This is BS. I was SPG member….and very happy. The new Bonvoy program did nothing but devalue my points and make it harder to upgrade. I’m Diamond at Hilton and will happily shift all my stays to them. Bye bye Bonvoy!

  35. Lifetime Titanium, 25+ years. Merger was worse than United+Continental and who thought that was possible? Currently Hyatt Globalist. Slightly higher price points but treatment is much better and they still offer points+cash like Starwood did. Not as many properties but enough for most. That said, can’t avoid Marriott, it’s OK but as said, you get nothing extra except points.

  36. If anyone wants to ring a bell, report this to the SEC. Very serious to make false statements on an earnings call, and if the approach to their data was not reasonable, that could be a violation as well.

  37. I got a new Marriott Bonvoy credit card. Does this mean that all the BENEFITS of the old Marriott Rewards card are gone on my account, specifically the Travel Insurance Benefits? That would make me cancel immediately and just stick with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card with the insurance benefits.

  38. I HATE Bonvoy vs SPG (I didn’t have Marriott prior to the merger). The merged program is far worse than what I had before; most prominently the 1/3 loss of point value in converting program points into airline points.
    From a technology service point of view, Marriott should be ashamed of itself. It tried to jam a square peg into a round hole. Starwood’s site was far more robust than Marriott’s yet the corporation was unable to leverage that superior technology, and as a consequence put thousands of customers through a world of hell during the merger.
    Since that time the overall treatment of members is just mediocre. Adequate I guess, but certainly not developing customer affection and loyalty. The name, “Bonvoy” is a joke and although I have not yet done so, I expect to burn through my points in 2020 and switch to another hotel group out of sheer disgust with the fools at Marriott who have deceived themselves into thinking that they haven’t screwed up royally. 8 to 1 over Starwood? Be serious!

  39. As a nobody silver I can say I haven’t really experienced “bad” service at SPG or pre/post Bonvoy. I don’t stay enough to get an accurate pattern. Hyatt is a little more welcoming at check in. Certainly hate Marriott for their whatever award rates, piss poor redemption values and broken site. Still prefer old SPG.

  40. This is such BS….Ambassador this year but stopped staying at Marriott in July due to individual properties not giving a damn…

    Sorensen is a liar:
    * he truly does not care about the most loyal of the stayers
    *he is happy to change the rules mid game..ie suite night awards which I have been unable to use for 3 years
    *No one I know received a survey and for damn sure no one I know would rank Marriott over SPG…never
    *In short, BONVOY is not only a lousy name it is a travel program that sucks!

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