Skift Take

The union of Marriott and Starwood's loyalty programs last week could have gone far worse based on mergers past. But it also could have gone better.

Series: Business of Loyalty

Travel Loyalty News

The Skift Business of Loyalty covers the world of hotel, airline, and other consumer loyalty programs in the travel industry. Read more coverage of loyalty here.

It was a tense week for some members of Marriott and Starwood’s loyalty programs. On August 18, both systems went down for scheduled maintenance to begin the cutover to a new unified system run by Marriott. When everyone got back to work the following Monday, that system was only partially running.

Points hoarders (and anyone who happened to want to make an award reservation)  panicked. Many didn’t see the points that they had spent years accumulating reported correctly, or their elite status in the right tier. More than a few wires were apparently crossed.

Marriott’s defense, of course, is that merging over 70 million accounts and tens of thousands of hotels onto one platform isn’t a walk in the park. And by the end of the week, it had most systems online and reporting correctly.

Lessons learned? It’s never easy merging two loyalty program bodies together, regardless of how much prep time you put in. And if your account status doesn’t report properly on your first attempt logging in, have a beer and come back tomorrow.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

Air Canada Wins Takeover Battle With $345 Million Bid for Loyalty Program Aeroplan: It took some takeover gamesmanship but Air Canada has Aeroplan back in its fold. It looks like a higher bid for the loyalty program was still a cheaper prospect than for the carrier to do it on its own.

Why United Is Considering Putting Flatbed Seats on New Domestic Jets: We learned this week United Airlines may introduce another new business class seat, which it likely will use to delight transcontinental domestic passengers, and perhaps thwart the growth plans of a certain New York-based airline.

How Streamlining Hotel Technology Will Help Business Travelers: The hotel experience for business travelers has long been a headache.

United’s Revenue Architect Plans to Add New Fees for Slightly Better Seats: United Airlines soon will charge extra money for what it calls preferred seats in economy class that do not have extra legroom or any other amenities, but are considered more desirable, the airline’s president, Scott Kirby, said Tuesday in an interview.

Delta Will Fly Newest Jets With Fewer Middle Seats on Key Business Routes: When Delta Air Lines takes delivery of its newest — and likely most passenger-friendly — narrow-body jets early next year, it plans to deploy them in markets where its most lucrative passengers fly, an executive said Monday at a conference in Denver.

American Airlines Is Trailing Its Rivals on Key Measures: American Airlines CEO Doug Parker probably needs to start sharpening his wine-selection skills.

Air France-KLM’s Incoming CEO Will Face a Litany of Union Demands: Air France-KLM Group’s French unions are drawing up a list of demands to present to incoming CEO Ben Smith, as they continue to bristle over the appointment of a foreign boss and the 300 percent salary hike that lured him.

Virgin Launching New Loyalty Program Powered by Virgin Atlantic: One of the biggest brands in the world is going to launch its own loyalty program.


Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [[email protected]] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

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Tags: loyalty, marriott, starwood

Photo credit: The logo for the W Hotel, once a Starwood property and now part of the Marriott network, is seen in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

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