by Michael J. Shapiro | April 17, 2018
Since last year, Marriott International has encouraged loyalty members to link their Marriotts Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts, allowing for status matches and point transfers. But this coming August, the hotel giant will roll out a combined program with one set of unified benefits for all members, encompassing not only Marriott Rewards and SPG but Ritz-Carlton Rewards as well.
According to Marriott, the new program will allow members to earn more points faster than previously - an average of 20 percent more points for every dollar spent - and to book and redeem at any of the hospitality company's 29 brands.
 
"We listened to the travel aspirations of our members and set our sights on unlocking the full potential of our loyalty programs," said David Flueck, Marriott's senior vice president of global loyalty. "This August, our members can enjoy one set of benefits across our extraordinary portfolio of hotels from iconic full and select service, to extended stay, to unique boutiques and luxury brands."
 
At that time, travelers will be able to book stays across the entire portfolio via Marriott.com, SPG.com and both the Marriott and SPG apps. The company also will expand its Moments platform as well, to offer more than 110,000 travel experiences across 1,000 destinations. The experiences range from attractions and tours that guests can book using cash, to more unique opportunities available only for loyalty points, including via the new Moments Live - a collection of prominent musical and culinary events. 
 
While the program and member accounts will be merged, the names - Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG - will still be used until a new name is announced sometime in 2019. According to global marketing officer Karin Timpone, the program's benefits took precedence. "We decided to announce the new benefits now and launch them as quickly as possible, so members could take full advantage," she said.
 
What to expect
Under the terms of the unified program, members will earn Silver elite status after 10 nights and Gold elite status after 25. Both Platinum elite (50 nights) and Platinum Premier elite (75 nights) will be easier to obtain than current Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Rewards members are accustomed to, aligning all three programs with the levels currently offered by SPG. Platinum Premier members who surpass 100 nights and $20,000 of spend will attain ambassador status, giving them the highest level of personalized service in addition to the rest of that tier's benefits. And finally, all Lifetime members will continue to have that status recognized under the new program.
 
The program will simplify matters by introducing a single points currency. SPG members will see their points balance triple, to start. All members will then earn 10 points for every dollar spent at all brands, with the exception of Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element, which will offer five points to the dollar. Also, all members will begin earning points for F&B and other qualifying incidentals, as opposed to just the room rate.
 
There will be no blackout dates at any hotel for points redemption. A unified Free Night Award chart will be used for every property, and will include pricing for peak, standard and off-peak times. That chart will launch in August with standard pricing, and will add off-peak and peak in 2019. 
 
Additional mobile functionality will also be rolled out. Program details and changes are spelled out here. Information about new co-branded credit cards, which will become available beginning next month, can be found here.