Vegas is all the rage this year in the lodging loyalty industry. Las Vegas is the largest hotel market, but the major chains had very limited presences there.
Hyatt kicked things off with its MGM alliance that involves both points-earning and redemption and also reciprocal elite status recognition.
I think of this as the hotel industry’s answer to airline alliances. The latter have been close to tapped out, but have been a real engine of growth for a decade. Hotel chains can grow strategically in much the same way, exchanging customers, without the infrastructure cost or addition of new rooms, competition, and driving down of prices.
Starwood and Caesars followed up with their own, somewhat less extensive partnership.
IHG plants its flag with Venetian, and Marriott has the quite-good Cosmopolitan.
Yesterday, Marriott Rewards let me know that they had launched a deeper partnership with Cosmopolitan. It’s still just one hotel, but it gives more possibilities there than before.
Currently you can redeem Marriott Rewards points for stays at Cosmopolitan (category 8, 40,000 points per night — points redemptions across the chain programs rarely make sense in Vegas because of the huge rate variances — they’re cheap mid-week, and they’re expensive on weekends, you should only redeem when the rooms are expensive but that’s when it will be harder to get the rooms).
You can also earn Marriott Rewards points on room rates at Cosmopolitan.
But there’s not been any points-earning for most spend at Cosmopolitan.
Now, you can earn Marriott Rewards for your room rate, and Cosmopolitan’s Identity points for everything else and convert Identity points to Marriott Rewards. And you can also convert Marriott Rewards points to Identity points, which gives you the opportunity through this new transitive property to use Marriott points for Cosmopolitan upgrades, meals, and spa treatments.
This change isn’t in and of itself exciting. But it’s a further deepening of ties between major loyalty programs and Las Vegas opportunities, something which barely registered at all four years ago.
The model, I think, is extendable. There are small hotel chains in Europe and in the Asia Pacific region that could become partners of major programs that have strategic gaps in those regions — providing opportunities for members of both programs. If I were a program executive looking to pick up a footprint in India, I might ring up the folks at Club ITC and see whether I could do a deal there for instance.