Marriott/Starwood Merger Clears Final Hurdle, Marriott World’s Largest Hotelier by Friday

Marriott has cleared the final hurdle for their merger with Starwood, winning approval from Chinese regulators for the $13.6 billion takeover of Starwood. Marriott will officially become the world’s largest hotelier by Friday with more than 5,500 properties, 1.1 million rooms in 100+ countries, $20B in annual revenue, and 30 brands.

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As I said last January, it’s going to be a very sad day for me as a loyal SPG fan for more than a decade. The companies I’ve worked for have often allowed me to choose between Starwood and Marriott properties, and I always picked Starwood due to their superior SPG program. When the two programs are combined, I truly hope that SPG points are valued higher than Marriott’s points and that we are not simply given a 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3 transfer ratio (it’s got be higher…let’s pray). Additionally, let’s hope that Marriott has truly been studying the superior elite perks and customer service of the SPG program like they’ve been telling the press for the last several months.

Rest easy though for a bit longer as industry experts don’t expect a combination of the loyalty programs until 2018.

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  1. I don’t understand how people like you, who are supposedly fond of international travel and thus foreign currencies, only “pray” that the conversion from Starwood points to Marriott points won’t be at par.

    1 USD at Marriott gets you 10 Marriott points.
    1 USD at Starwood gets you 2 Starwood points.

    Just because both are “points” doesn’t mean a Marriott point and a Starwood point are equal in value. This is, of course, only on the earning side.

    If you want to convert your hotel points to airline miles for a first class ticket to Japan on Japan Airlines, that will cost you 110,000 JAL miles. As a 75-night SPG Platinum with an SPG Amex, you’d need 90,000 SPG points that will take you $15,000 spending at Starwood to achieve (actually less with welcome gift, green choice, and Q-promos).

    At Marriott, you’d need 440,000 Marriott points to get 110,000 JAL miles. As a Marriott Platinum with a Chase Marriott credit card, you’d need to spend $22,000 there.

    So yes, the Starwood program is more generous. At the same time, 90,000 SPG points and 440,000 Marriott points are the moral equivalents. I don’t understand how to get taken up at just “hoping” for some SPG-Marriott points conversion rate as though there’s some equivalence in the numbers just because they are both called “points.” That’s like saying a US dollar and a Hong Kong dollar should be equal in value just because they are both called dollars.

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