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Marriott's strategic move not only aims to boost hotel revenue but also provides travelers with loyalty redemption opportunities for MGM Resorts entertainment.

Last July, Marriott International and MGM Resorts announced a licensing tie-up where members of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program could earn and redeem points for activity at MGM Resorts’ properties. On Wednesday, travelers became able to take advantage of this partnership at 16 MGM Resort locations.

Attention on the deal first focused on the potential bump in hotel stays. MGM Resorts expects at least $50 million in incremental revenue this year.

Yet Marriott is also hoping to tap into some of the distinctive “experiences” that MGM Resorts offers.

“Travelers are seeking larger-than-life moments that speak to their passions and the destinations they love,” said Peggy Roe, Marriott International’s executive vice president and chief customer officer.

Auctioning Off Travel Experiences

For some time, Marriott has been promoting its loyalty program and co-branded credit cards by auctioning off rare experiences, called “moments.”

Only members who have earned millions of points have a chance at winning in the most coveted auctions. Recent Super Bowl promotions received winning bids above 3 million points each. That said, many of the auction packages have been redeemable in the 100,000 to 900,000 point range.

Notably, the deal with MGM gives Marriott access to a lot more experiential inventory, starting with Las Vegas entertainment.

In one promotion that starts Wednesday, loyalty members with a big enough stockpile of reward points can bid for a chance to choreograph the iconic fountain show outside the Bellagio resort. A guest will be able to produce the show, such as helping select a song to play and figure out how the fountains should dance along with the music.

View from Prime Steakhouse of the lighted fountain display at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas. Source: MGM Resorts.

Other auction items include a behind-the-scenes tour of Cirque du Soleil and a weekend of golf at Vegas’ Shadow Creek course during a Master’s tournament in April.

Everyday experiences

Marriott intends to offer other “experiences” that are obtainable to travelers who haven’t amassed giant piles of points. So-called “one-point drops” let people click on a first-come, first-served basis when very limited supplies of special events become available for redemptions of only a point, such as mezcal tastings with a minor celebrity or golfing with a YouTube influencer. These promotions work independently of the so-called MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott Bonvoy’s separate collaboration with BetMGM, a sports betting and gaming operator, will launch in a handful of states on March 7. Members can earn points while playing at the casino and transfer the points to their Marriott Bonvoy account.

In a related move, members of MGM Resorts’ loyalty program can now link accounts with Marriott Bonvoy and receive a corresponding tier status with appropriate member benefits.

CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to reflect that some auctioned events require fewer than “millions” of points to redeem.

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Tags: experiences, experiential, experiential travel, future of lodging, las vegas, loyalty, loyalty points, loyalty programs, marriott, marriott bonvoy, Marriott International, mgm, mgm resorts, mgm resorts international

Photo credit: Exterior view of pinwheel lighted fountain display at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas. Source: MGM Resorts.

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