December 2, 2015

How will the Marriott-Starwood merger affect customers’ holiday travels?

What does the Marriott-Starwood merger mean for holiday travelers?

The Marriott-Starwood $12.2 billion merger is making huge waves in the hospitality industry. The finalization of the deal next year will make Marriott International the largest hotel chain in the entire world. However, despite the possibilities the organization's size could open up for its clientele, some are less confident in what such a massive chain would mean for travelers during the holidays.

With two large brands joining forces under one name, this will mean less options for consumers in terms of pricing, amenities and in the preferred guest programs. Both of these companies currently boast impressive loyalty rewards programs, yet Starwood members are wondering how this merger will affect their current rewards they have earned.

Despite these clients' concerns, Arne Sorensen, Marriott's CEO, assured them, saying that the merged company will be taking the best features of both programs to provide an even better customer experience. Others are also wondering how Marriott will incorporate Starwood's innovative use of technology in the hotel experience, such as the company's travel planning app.

"While undoubtedly size provides more scale and more leverage, perhaps one blind spot of the tradition hoteliers is that growing numbers of travelers are looking for the authentic and meaningful experiences through a seamlessly connected interface, not a brand," Jim Pickell writes for The Huffington Post. "And that shift may not bode well for brands that rely on and expect blind loyalty."

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