Marriott Reaches 100 Million Loyalty Members, Introduces Experience Bookings

Marriott announced today that they’ve surpassed 100 million members between Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest.

We don’t really know what this means — the extent to which these are unique members (after de-duping Starwood and Marriott lists) and active members (for instance, earn or burn activity in the last 24 months).

There’s something of a competition to show the biggest member file. IHG Rewards Club claims to have over 100 million members.

In contrast Marriott and Starwood were estimated to have a combined 75 million members at the end of 2015, and:

  • Hilton Honors ~ 55 million
  • Wyndham Rewards ~ 50 million
  • Choice Privilege ~ 25 million
  • Best Western Rewards ~ 25 million
  • Hyatt ~ 22 million

Hilton now says they’re over 60 million members with 9 million member growth in 2016.

We know that American AAdvantage is likely the biggest program, after merging with US Airways they had over 100 million members. United is over 90 million, and Delta is definitely over 80 million.

What’s certainly clear is that large member files can be leveraged into big revenue. The number one way this happens, beyond marketing travel, is with co-brand credit card deals. But it’s not the only way.

Marriott has announced an investment in PlacePass, a worldwide ‘activity search and price comparison website’. And they’re integrating PlacePass online booking of tours, activities, and experiences into Marriott’s website and app.

Marriott pitches this as an opportunity to bring travelers more (a new ability “to choose from an additional 100,000 plus authentic local experiences in 800 destinations worldwide when they book direct on or or their respective apps”) but of course travelers can already book these things and indeed go directly to to do so.

Marriott’s goal here is to become more of an online travel agency, cross-selling its 100 million hotel members. They know where people are staying, why sell them just the room when they can sell what customers do outside the room too? This extends the current strategy exemplified by the new mobile app which can integrate with on-property beacon technology to offer discounts and sales pitches for additional in-hotel purchases.

No matter your passion – from a champagne picnic in the Grand Canyon to exploring the Norwegian wilderness on a dog sled tour, whether you are traveling alone, as a couple or family, or if you have a few hours to spare or a few days – guests who book with Marriott will get the most out their travels.

PlacePass integrates offerings from companies like Viator and Ticketmaster, to let you search and compare by destination. And now Marriott will be integrating the functionality as well.

This is hardly a new idea — Expedia offers online search and booking of activities, and integrates activities offers into their booking path.

Given Marriott’s scale, though (whether 80 million or 100 million members), there’s a huge data file to market to.

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. Reminds of me an old Delta marketing campaign. If everyone is an elite then nobody is an elite. It would be interesting to know of the X number of millions just how many are platinums. Between the unfair status matching of SPG — there stay requirements are much lower than Marriott — and the United crossover deal, there are a lot more Marriott gold and platinum guests at your average full-service Marriott these days. It’s become so bad that the lounges are often crowded, to the point where you literally have to get there right when it opens to get first dibs on food as many of the U.S. domestic properties are skimping on evening offerings and not restocking.

  2. This PlacePass site is pretty lame. Just a simple front end on top of viator with little added value. Seems like a few months of work on top of a weekend hackathon project.

  3. Is it only in the new World of Hyatt where 22 million members at the end of 2015 + 9 million new members in 2016 = 60 million members in 2017?

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