As one might think, the majority of conversation on Marriott's earnings report last week was about the integration of the Starwood merger.
Since it's probably worthwhile for us 'loyalists' to know where we're headed, here are some of the highlights;
1) The success of the loyalty program was stated as the most important goal (as I wrote last week, Arne said "our most loyal members love the matching program", now a snarky guy might observe, because if you don't, you aren't our most loyal customer - but for me, so far so good )
a) 3.3 billion points have been transferred so far (no, I don't know which way)
b) only 16% (13.6 million out of 85 million) of members were in both programs - tremendous potential/challenge
c) holding on to loyal SPG and Marriott Rewards members is crucial (competitors already approaching/poaching - emphasis on and is mine)
d) loyalty reduces OTA bookings (financially significant) and provides more negotiating leverage (it's not just warm fuzzies)
e) around 900,000 new members have joined since merger
2) Current plans are to promote overall portfolio of brands and loyalty (vs. aggressive individual brand marketing)
a) gave the impression that dissolving brands not a major focus, but will see what they see (my wording)
b) made a point of mentioning their interest and intent on growing Aloft and Element (my thought - Airbnb defense)
3) Immediate priority - (sound the trumpets) Implement same technology system at all 6,000+ hotels in 120 countries
4) The majority of the $250 million cost savings through 'synergies' should be captured by September
Overall, nothing shocking and per usual, Marriott will do what's best for it's bottom line: nothing radical, nor IMO, as a shareholder, wrong there; it just points out to me the need for the traveler to observe whether a) it's short term tactics or long term strategy and b) how best can we, the traveler, align with the direction of the company to optimize our travel experience (realizing it's not about love, kindness, unicorns, and rainbows, but financial performance). We have already seen some benefits of Marriott courting SPG (late check out, Concierge/Ambassador), let's keep our eyes open (and share) for others.
and since I'm serving today as a quasi P.R. rep for Mother Marriott, here's Arne's open letter to President-elect Trump in case you hadn't seen it; feel free to treat it as one of your 30 days of holiday rewards