More than two years after closing one of the most tumultuous merger deals in the history of hospitality, Marriott International has finally revealed the new name of its loyalty program, combining all three of its loyalty brands — Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).
And it is: Marriott Bonvoy, which a number of travel loyalty-focused outlets had already assumed would be the new name.
Marriott Bonvoy officially launches on February 13 with a multi-million-dollar global media campaign. According to Marriott, “Marriott Bonvoy is built on the belief that travel enriches us all and has the power to enrich the world” and it has a total of 120 million members — arguably the largest for a single hotel company whose portfolio includes 30 different brands and more than 6,700 hotels.
Additionally, the current experience/tours and activities programs related to Marriott Rewards and SPG, known as Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments, will also be rebranded as Marriott Bonvoy Moments. All together, the combined Marriott Bonvoy Moments encompasses 120,000 experiences in 1,000 destinations globally and includes local tours or unique experiences. For at least the more than two years that have passed since Marriott closed its $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the company has made combining all three of its brands a top priority. All three brands were officially launched as a single loyalty program back in August 2018, albeit without an official new name at the time.
The loyalty integration that took place last year was not without its challenges and frustrations, especially for some of SPG’s elite members, many of whom lamented the changes under Marriott, primarily because of a few changes in benefits as well as some technical difficulties associated with the actual combining of accounts.However, Marriott says that all of its loyalty members now earn, on average, 20 percent more points per dollar spent.
The new loyalty name also includes two new elite status tier names: Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite will replace Platinum Premier Elite for members who surpass 75 nights, and Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite will replace Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador. This tier recognizes members who stay with Marriott for more than 100 nights and spend more than $20,000 annually. The current Marriott Rewards app will also automatically be updated to become the new Marriott Bonvoy app, while the existing SPG and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards apps will be deactivated on February 13.
In March 2017, Skift spoke to Marriott’s newly appointed senior vice president of loyalty, David Flueck, an SPG and Starwood veteran, who told Skift that the eventual new mobile app for Marriott’s combined loyalty program would rely heavily on Big Data and be highly personalized. The rollout for the new loyalty name also coincides with the ongoing rollout of Marriott’s new reservations system, the details of which have yet to be revealed. However, at the Skift Global Forum in September 2018, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson confirmed that the new system for all of Marriott’s more than 6,700 hotels worldwide would include the ability for customers to choose their own rooms, as well as other features.
It’s likely that the new Marriott Bonvoy app will showcase some of those new booking features as Marriott adds more hotels onto the new reservations platform, called ERS.
Marriott and its hotel peers have, within recent years, placed increasing importance on their respective loyalty programs as a means of (1) improving guest experiences, (2) building better relationships and loyalty ties to customers, and (3) combatting the stronghold that online travel agencies have when it comes to where consumers book their hotel rooms.
For Marriott, the importance of successfully integrating all three of its loyalty programs was not lost on its CEO, who said as far back as April 2016, “The most important thing for us to succeed at is the loyalty program. You’ve got with SPG and Marriott Rewards two big groups of very loyal customers. We’ve got to make sure you’re enthusiastic about the changes. I think we can make sure the benefits stay the same if not get better and offer them a broader selection of places to stay.”
Nearly three years later, it appears Marriott has finally capped off the integration and revealed a new name, but the effort to make sure the loyalty program succeeds will continue.
How’d They Come Up With the Name?
For those wondering how, or why Marriott decided to name its combined loyalty program Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott chief commercial officer Stephanie Linnartz told Skift it was the result of a lengthy process. Working with New York-based creative design agency, Mother Design, as well as having a dedicated internal team devoted to the new loyalty brand and identity, Marriott considered a total of 600 different names, but in the end, Bonvoy was a clear winner.
“Bonvoy rose to the top because it spoke to the things we were trying to accomplish,” Linnartz noted. Those included finding a name that could speak to all 30 of Marriott’s brands, which range from select or limited service to luxury, as well as communicate a “modern, fresh, and aspirational” identity.
“Marriott Bonvoy is really built on this idea that all travel is good travel,” Linnartz explained. “We love that concept of good travel that enriches people’s lives, connects the world, and makes the world a better place.” As for its allusion to the popular French phrase, “bon voyage” or “good journey,” Linnartz said that wasn’t far off the mark. “It’s a little bit of a nod to bon voyage,” she said. “Bon voyage has that connotation around travel and good travel.”
By: Deanna Ting