Devaluation? What Devaluation?!? What the Truth Might Sound Like…
L ast week was when the major announcement that Marriott International, Incorporated will acquire Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Incorporated in a deal worth $12.2 billion, ensuring the combined entity to easily become the largest lodging company in the world with a combined total of currently a whopping 30 brands consisting of 5,573 hotel properties in greater than 100 countries — and also ensuring the dread and trepidation of those who are loyal to Starwood Preferred Guest, who are almost certain that the future of their favorite frequent guest loyalty program will be hit with major devaluation after major devaluation.
Reassurance From the Chief Executive Officer
“Devaluing points or member benefits is not the way to preserve and strengthen these programs” is what Arne Sorenson — who is the president and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Incorporated — says to allay those fears in this video in which he stars in order to assure you that you have nothing about which to be concerned:
“With due respect to the Marriott’s distinguished CEO, I do not think he’s familiar with the Marriott Rewards program”, Gary Leff of View From The Wing stated in this article, which presents examples to substantiate that statement.
That got me thinking: when was the last time announcements from frequent travel loyalty programs were truthful and reassuring? The word enhancement has forever been ruined to members of frequent travel loyalty programs as a euphemistic term for devaluation.
What a Truthful Announcement Might Look Like
Let us paraphrase the words of Arne Sorenson from the video into what a truthful announcement pertaining to the fate of the frequent guest loyalty programs in the future might look like:
Early this week, we announced the depressing news that Marriott will be acquiring Starwood. Despite my not wanting to do so, I had the unfortunate task of talking to the financial community and the associates of both companies; and I really would rather not talk to our guests right now — but here goes anyway.
Our guests are what make us dread our jobs every single miserable day and make us not even want to show up at work in the morning. This merger gives us the ability to take two lousy companies and destroy anything left that is good about either of them. We will ensure that the things you love about Marriott and Starwood are completely neglected as we strive towards our vision of being the world’s largest and most profitable — and powerful — travel company.
This will be particularly true for our loyalty programs. The top priority for us as we come together is to line our pockets with as much of your money as possible and ignore the concerns and preferences of our pesky guests, who do not deserve our attention at all and have been getting away with murder all of these years.
We recognize that Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are two of the worst loyalty programs in the industry — each with gullible morons who believe we are doing what is best for them. Losers.
While we will be spending a great deal of time in the coming months developing our strategy for making even more money at the expense of our guests, our members should wake up and realize that they do not mean a thing to us; and we know without a doubt that these loyalty programs are nothing more than a ball and chain to us, with a bunch of whiners and spoiled brats who do nothing but gripe and complain and want more. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Give me a freakin’ break.
The Starwood Preferred Guest program was one of the most attractive aspects of our acquisition of Starwood. To state the obvious, devaluing points or member benefits is the way to increase our wealth while getting rid of those who leach off of our program so that we can attract real business customers who can afford high room rates without some stupid loyalty program to give them incentives.
As the merger of the two companies progresses, we will attempt to hide as much information as possible so that no one can take advantage of any opportunities to enjoy benefits at our expense. Any insights we think up will help us in our ultimate goal: to make as much money as possible by devaluing the experiences of our idiot guests, who are little more than an aggravating pain in the butt to us.
With this merger, we have a tremendous opportunity to dominate the lodging industry. We plan to destroy whatever is left of our loyalty programs that values us instead of our guests by concentrating on keeping the worst aspects of both of them and eliminating whatever was positive about them; and then we plan on deceiving our guests by telling them about all of the enhancements that they are about to enjoy as we blatantly lie through our teeth.
Thank you — and safe travels. Better yet, do not travel at all. Instead, book a reservation for a room at a rate which must be paid in advance and cannot be canceled or refunded; and then do not show up. That is as close to pure profit as possible for us.
I am not suggesting that the words in the above parody are what Arne Sorenson was really thinking; but there really is little reason these days for airline and lodging companies to continue to have loyalty programs which are lucrative to their members. Besides, a little more honesty to members of frequent travel loyalty programs might actually be refreshing in a bizarre way and may perhaps foster a modicum of trust.
Just remember that the bottom line of many companies is the almighty dollar — pure and simple. Anything else is secondary or tertiary — and no polished video with marketing doublespeak will change the fact that companies simply do not truly care about you. After all, Marriott did not acquire Starwood because the company cares about you.
Instead, consider losing your elite status, gaining your self-respect — and launching your own frequent travel loyalty program — and you will experience less disappointment and be more in control of the benefits and amenities you want whenever you travel…
Source: Marriott International, Incorporated.