Survey: Starwood Buyout Leads To Hotel Customer Uncertainty
A recent consumer survey by Phoenix Marketing shows that the massive merger of Starwood and Marriott—creating the world’s largest hotel chain—is creating uncertainty among customers over Marriott’s Rewards and Starwood’s Preferred Guest program.
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed are worried the merger will make program rules across the industry more complicated, and make it harder to reach elite status in the program, as Marriott takes over more market share, according to Phoenix Marketing VP David Pluchino.
“Marriott is going to become an even bigger player in the arena,” David tells us.
Whatever ends up happening, David says, Marriott’s decision on the program will ultimately serve as a model for other major mergers and hotel rewards programs.
The Marriott-Starwood merger made headlines this year by sparking a bidding war between Marriott and China’s Anbang Insurance (chairman Wu Xiaohui pictured, left), as the eastern state-backed giant attempted to further expand its US hotel holdings. But after putting up the highest offer, Anbang walked away from the negotiating table.
Despite the uncertainty over the rewards programs, customers are happy that Marriott is the one doing the buyout, as the hotel brand pioneered guest loyalty features.
“Because Marriott is such a big player they trust it more,” Phoenix Marketing managing director John Antonello tells us. “They think 'it’s probably not a good thing, but because it’s Marriott we think they’ll do the right thing, and overall we should be OK.’”