Marriott Starwood merger creates world's largest hotel chain
Hotel consolidation is big business in today’s hospitality universe. The long-awaited merger between Marriott International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts became official on September 23rd, bringing together two hotel giants. Marriott International purchased Starwood for $13 billion, resulting in Marriott becoming the largest hotel company in the world, with 30 brands and more than 5,700 hotels. These 30 brands account for over one million rooms in 110 countries and give Marriott an increased presence in profitable regions such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa. According to CNBC, that equates to “more than 1 out of every 15 hotel rooms around the globe.”
Marriott International is positioning this merger to their guests as an increase in hotel choices, as they now offer an unmatched portfolio of brands, from ultra-luxury brands to economy hotels, and conservative to edgy brands. In addition to traditional hotels, Marriott International now offers four “longer stays” brands, from the Classic Marriott Executive Apartments to the more distinctive Element by Westin.
This merger will also combine their loyalty programs, providing the 85 million members with even more choices and combined incentives. Members of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Marriott Rewards Program are able to link their accounts at Members.marriott.com to begin earning points at all of the hotels. Although the fully assimilated loyalty program will not be complete until 2018, members who link their accounts will be able to transfer points, with three Marriott Reward points for one SPG ‘starpoint’, according to Yahoo Finance.
In addition to the merger benefiting guests, it also provides the combined company with more power to compete in the marketplace, now backed by a loyalty program with 85 million members and more locations to redeem points/rewards. Another substantial advantage from the merger is the Marriott International “M Live” social media command centers, located in Maryland, Florida, Hong Kong and London, which provide real time data on all of their brands. As we reported in August, the global tracking device “allows Marriott to create localized and in-language content most relevant to the traveler” for personalized content that will further develop the bond between Marriott International and the guest, especially for millennials who are heavily involved in social media. This increased technology across the 30 brands is a competitive feature that will further strengthen the social engagement with guests.
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