Corporate Traveller

Marriott Buys Starwood, Now World’s Largest Hotel Chain

It took Marriott International Inc. $13.6 billion to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts last week and in the process, it became the hotel industry’s largest player with a total of 30 brands under its new and much bigger umbrella.

Marriott, Courtyard and Ritz Carlton brands will now stand alongside Starwood’s Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis and W properties in one of the travel industry’s biggest mergers ever. Even though some Starwood brands have been underperforming in recent years, all are expected to survive the merger.

Exactly how big has Marriott gotten? Well, we’re talking almost 6,000 properties globally, 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries. Hilton’s 773,000 worldwide rooms is now in second place followed by InterContinental’s 766,000 in third.

Perhaps most important to customers of either brand however will be the benefits of the two loyalty programs, which will eventually be linked together. Gold Elite members in one program will automatically get Gold status in the other. Platinum Elite members will get Platinum and Marriott Silver members will fall into Starwood’s lowest category, Preferred Plus. Each Starwood point will be worth three Marriott rewards points. Current members of the two programs could be eligible to start transferring points between accounts as early as this Friday.

Both Marriott and Starwood are currently under contract with their respective loyalty programs, Marriott with Chase and United Airlines, Starwood with American Express, Delta and Uber. Due to these current partnerships, the earliest that the two programs could be combined would be 2018.

Starwood’s Preferred Guest loyalty program was an integral part of the deal as its 21 million members have been very loyal over the years and tend to travel more. Together with Marriott’s loyalty guests, 56 million members will now have greater choice about where to stay, spend and accrue points.