by Loren G. Edelstein | November 01, 2016
Brian King, global brand officer of Marriott International, recently sat down with M&C to discuss the chain's merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which officially closed Sept. 23, and address some concerns of meeting professionals. Following are highlights from the discussion. For a video clip from the interview, click here.

Has the deal affected existing group contracts? Not at all. What is signed is what is honored. We are wickedly committed to not disrupting our customers' experiences.

Will prices rise due to less competition? I think that is an overstated concern. We have micro-market pricing, meaning our hotels in the same market generally have different owners. We, as a parent company, have no control over pricing.

Will Marriott rebrand any properties? We have 30 brands now, some of which are in the same category. But those hotels are successful already. So, no, we have no plans to rebrand anything.

What kind of marketplace trends are you seeing? Multiyear signings are at an all-time high. This is common in the association space, but now we're seeing it a lot more for corporate meetings. Smart planners are booking early.

How about the size of meetings? Big meetings are still getting bigger, and small meetings business is still strong.

When will the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs be linked? It's done! There was a lot of skepticism on what was going to happen on the rewards side. On the day we merged, we linked those accounts. It happened in one day. People were amazed.