Skift Take

Marriott Bonvoy signed up the 200 millionth member as the loyalty program aims to retain its title as the world's largest – Hilton Honors is hot on its tail.

Marriott said Monday that the 200 millionth person had joined its loyalty program as the company aims to retain its title as having the world’s largest hotel rewards program.

The company even identified the 200 millionth member: A gentleman with the first name of Nino, who signed up for Marriott Bonvoy at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, according to a LinkedIn post.

The milestone came as Hilton has been signing up loyalty members at a faster pace than Marriott. Skift looked at a five-year pace and a one-year pace as of year-end and if trends continue, Hilton could overtake Marriott’s program in size within roughly the next year.

To gain context, Skift caught up Monday with Peggy Roe, executive vice president and chief customer officer of Marriott.

On staying the largest

“My perspective is it’s about quality, not quantity,” Roe said. “That said, having the biggest program in the world is important.”

“There’s a lot of upside for us to sustain our position because of initiatives we’re launching this year to target new segments and work with new partners. We’re going to give people, especially younger people, reasons other than staying at a hotel to enroll in the program, and we haven’t really come at it that way before.”

On reaching new markets

“The TAM, or total addressable market, of travelers we’re after is 1.3 billion,” Roe said. “So, really, we’re after the next 200 million.”

A just-launched licensing deal with MGM Resorts will let Marriott Bonvoy members earn and burn points for stays at most MGM Resorts’ properties. MGM Resorts also offer a lot of “experiences,” such as live performances that can become rewards for redemption in Marriott Bonvoy, she said.

“We really need to enroll where our growth is, which is 70% outside of the U.S., and quite frankly, it’s a little bit harder,” Roe said.

Expanding the company’s co-branded credit cards is one tactic.

“We have 31 credit cards in 11 countries, and I don’t think anyone’s anywhere near that in terms of the breadth and depth,” Roe said.

On critical metrics

“The pandemic was rough, but we’re starting to see growth over 2019 in terms of NPS [net promotor scores] for Marriott Bonvoy as the awareness increases and the experience on-property gets better,” Roe said. “For example, we had to pause our Ambassador program [that provides service from dedicated support staff] during the pandemic. Then we brought it back last year, and we saw, significant increases in our NPS over the year.”

“Lifetime value and penetration are the really important metrics at the end of the day,” Roe said.

Today, Marriott says member penetration represents 61% globally and 67% in the U.S. regarding occupied rooms booked by members. Yet Roe anticipates the days when 70% of its hotels will be filled with members. These members provide details about themselves that can be valuable for future marketing.

“We’re building our first-party data in a way that will cost us less to be able to talk to you,” Roe said.

“The value to me is about how big the customer base is but also how well we can fill our hotels with those customers and how much those customers are able to spend,” Roe said.

On lifetime value

Marriott says the top 1% of loyalty members represent 35% of gross fee revenue. These customers are highly engaged, with 90% using the mobile app, 64% having a co-branded credit card, and 21% using other products like Uber and Homes and Villas by Marriott Bonvoy.

But sometimes an anecdote better captures the power of loyalty.

“I was talking to an elite Marriott Bonvoy member who has achieved Ambassador status, and he told me, ‘I’ve been traveling with you guys all over the world,'” Roe said. “And so I always ask people, you know, what’s your favorite property? And he said, ‘The J.W. Marriott in Venice. I’ve been there so many times that, when I die, I hope you will spread my ashes all over that property.”

“So I think about lifetime value a lot and this person is telling me that he wants to be with us for life,” Roe said. “That speaks to the power of our loyalty program.”

Accommodations Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of hotels and short-term rental sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets, including international and regional hotel brands, hotel REITs, hotel management companies, alternative accommodations, and timeshares.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more hotels and short-term rental financial sector performance.

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: future of lodging, loyalty, loyalty programs, marriott, marriott bonvoy, Marriott International

Photo credit: In the center, Nino and his partner Melissa who were on a 48 hour trip to Dubai to celebrate his birthday. Nino signed up for Marriott Bonvoy at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai and became its 200 millionth and newest member enrolled. Source: Marriott.

Up Next

Loading next stories