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Marriott Loyalty Program Facing Numerous Challenges

Marriott is still having trouble integrating the loyalty accounts of its brands (Marriott, Courtyard and Fairfield) with Starwood, the hotel chain it acquired a couple of years ago, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

According to the article, loyalty members have complained that the Marriott system is missing data including rewards for entire stays as well as qualifications for top-tier status.

Another issue that surfaced for Marriott was a breach of the former Starwood systems containing loyalty information and potentially other personally identifiable data, affecting as many as 500 million guests. According to a Marriott press release acknowledging the breach, “On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States. Marriott quickly engaged leading security experts to help determine what occurred. Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.  The company recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it.”

Now the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott is challenged with these internal issues for attracting people to its loyalty program while at the same time facing external challenges as other hotel brands make changes to their loyalty programs expected to attract new guests as well as additional business from current loyalty members.

Hyatt recently announced that it had renamed its loyalty program Milestone Rewards. Among the changes it made were offering smaller tiers, meaning that program members could qualify for new perks more quickly. Among the changes:

  • Members can earn two lounge passes after 20 nights, then two more after earning Explorist status (30 qualifying nights) rather than waiting for Explorist status for all four passes.
  • Members can earn two suite upgrades after staying 50 nights, then another two after reaching Globalist status (60 nights), rather than waiting to achieve Globalist status for all four upgrades.

There are other quicker-to-earn perks as well.

Additionally, Hyatt loyalty members can now earn and redeem rewards at Small Luxury Hotels of the World locations, through a partnership that started in early November, as reported in Hotel Business. The smaller chain has 50 properties across the globe.

Choice Hotels is another brand offering quicker loyalty benefits, at least temporarily. The company announced in its Choice Privileges program was offering double points through mid-February.

“Our more than 39 million loyalty members want to earn rewards even faster, whether they travel for business or leisure,” said Jamie Russo, vice president, loyalty programs and customer engagement, Choice Hotels, in a prepared statement. “We designed the Double Points and Book. Spin. Win. promotions to help travelers make their winter and holiday travel twice as rewarding, while having more fun in the process.”

Phil Britt is a reporter for The Wise Marketer.

Marriott Loyalty Program Facing Numerous Challenges
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