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Skift Take

There will be a lot of angry travelers if Marriott chooses to eliminate Starwood’s loyalty program.

— Andrew Sheivachman

One of the big questions yet to be determined following Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts is the fate of Starwood’s beloved Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program.

American Express executives said on an earnings call Thursday that it is unsure of what will happen to the program once the acquisition becomes official sometime this year. American Express currently runs the SPG credit card program.

“We think we have a great partnership and I think SPG is one of the assets that Marriott is acquiring, but we’ll have to see over the longer term exactly where Marriott decides to take the two programs,” said Jeff Campbell, CFO of American Express. “I think it is certainly one of the reasons why Marriott made the deal is they were very, very focused on the high quality customer that Starwood has.”

Executives on the call went on to suggest it would simply be bad business for Marriott to eliminate the program or roll it into the existing Marriott Rewards program.

“If you have a group of customers that in fact have relied on getting very strong value for a product, the last thing you want to do is diminish the value of the product,” said American Express CEO Ken Chenault. “I think that the Marriott people are very customer-centric, very smart, and I don’t think they would have done this deal if the objective was to dilute the value of products to some of their most important customers.”

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