Update 2: I’m still traveling for another few days and haven’t slept in more than that thanks to polar bear and Aurora Borealis hunting, but I’d be remiss not to mention that there is a competing offer from a Chinese consortium now on the table for Starwood. Might this save Starwood as we know it from being swallowed up by Marriott?
Time will tell.
Now, do the Chinese also want to save Fairmont while they’re at it?
Update 1: In somewhat promising news, Marriott claims they will preserve the best aspects of both programs and that a big factor to buy Starwood was for their loyalty program. Then again, Continental and United said before they would keep the best of both airlines and that we would like the changes that were coming, before devastating loyal members of both programs.
File this in the “time will tell” category. Mergers rarely work out well for consumers, so I’m not holding my breath. But I am hoping.
Originally posted on 11/16/15:
In potentially devastating news for point junkies, Marriott has agreed to buy Starwood for $12.2 billion.
Apparently they beat out potential offers from suitors like Hyatt, IHG, and the Chinese government.
Pending government approval, the deal will close mid-2016.
With Marriott being the acquirer and the far larger program, it seems very likely that Marriott Rewards will be the surviving loyalty program
Starwood points are between 2-3 times as valuable as Marriott points and also transfer into airline miles at far higher ratios.
Starwood top-tier elite status is far more valuable than Marriott elite status and is much easier to attain.
I suppose that it’s possible that Marriott keeps the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program as a separate entity from Marriott Rewards, but it seems unlikely. The benefits of that would be not decimating the value in the SPG program and possibly being able to keep revenue streams from both AMEX and Chase. I’d be overjoyed, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.
The likely route is that Marriott swallows Starwood and stops offering the Starwood AMEX. So this may be terrible news for AMEX as well. I’m almost surprised AMEX doesn’t jump into the fray and make an offer for Starwood just not to lose the huge co-brand Starwood business 😀
If Marriott announces plans to forcibly convert Starpoints into Marriott points at an equal ratio, that’s the day I cash in my chips and transfer out several million Starpoints into airline miles. There’s no way I’ll just sit back and be devalued while hoping there will be new value added to the Marriott program unless they explicitly say there will be.
Overall I see this as very ominous news. The only silver lining is that at least both Hyatt and Starwood’s programs won’t be destroyed like what was possible in a worst-case scenario when they were rumored to be merging.