It’s the high-profile wedding of the year. Marriott International, Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts tied the knot in late September. And whether you prefer one, the other, or neither, this is a merger with major repercussions in the industry. Let’s take a quick look at how this new hotel dynasty is going to affect you and your travelers.


Both Marriott and Starwood have solemnly vowed not to dissolve any of their hotel brands. None of them.

All 30 brands will remain as they are (at least for the foreseeable future). Now, it’s going to be hard for each of the 30 brands to maintain its own identity and market space, but Marriott has put together a helpful little Infographic to show how this all plays out. Need some more description about what makes each hotel special (in case you need to know the difference between a “bespoke” hotel and a “sophisticated” hotel with “thoughtful amenities”)? They’ve provided that, too.

The biggest takeaway for you and your travelers is that your favorite brand (whatever it may be) isn’t being compromised.

Although, selecting a hotel brand from this plethora of choices is going to feel a bit more like perusing the toothpaste aisle in Target.

So. Many. Options.

U.S. Marriott Starwood Brand Architecture U.S. Marriott Starwood Brand Architecture


The days of, “Does it have a bed and a coffee maker?” are long gone. We travelers like our perks.

And your travelers can benefit big time from this merger. Be a pal and help them do so.

Although Marriott and Starwood have a long-term plan to combine loyalty programs (est. 2018), for the time being, both programs are still active separately but are linked on the back end.

What does that mean?

Earn points at either Marriott or Starwood, and you can redeem them at the chain you earned them, or transfer them to the other chain.* The catch is: you need to belong to both Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), and you need to link the accounts together.

Maximize Your Benefits from the Marriott/Starwood Merger

  1. Become a Marriott Rewards member (if you aren’t already).

  2. Become an SPG member (if you aren’t already).

  3. Link your accounts.

  4. Update your World Travel, Inc. Traveler Profile with BOTH Rewards Numbers. (This step will make sure you earn rewards, and also that you get Member Rates – if they are applicable and cheaper. See our blog post on Member Rates for more on that.)

Two particular points of note:

  1. 1 SPG point counts for 3 Marriott Rewards points (because SPG is a higher-value program).

  2. Elite status match is apples-to-apples. If you’ve got a premium rank in one program, you’ll get the same premium rank in the other, regardless of points accrual.

With GREAT anticipation, we’re looking forward to the day when these brands start sharing their innovations and technologies. Perhaps the day is not too far away when travelers will begin to experience the best of both worlds – mobile check-in/check-out coming from Marriott and mobile room-access from Starwood.

*Of course you can expect a little fine-print. Or a lot. There are some hotels you can’t use your points for. Check out item 11 in the fine print for Marriott and item 3 in the fine print for Starwood.


We’ve culled through a lot of the articles published about this merger, and want to highlight some key points for you, the discerning travel manager. Just use the embedded links below to dig a little deeper!

  • This is a $13 billion dollar merger, creating a mega chain with more than 1.1 million rooms in about 5,700 hotels located in more than 110 countries.
  • That’s about 1 in every 15 hotel rooms globally, making it the largest hotel chain in the world.
  • How does this stack-up in the Share Economy? Airbnb still has about 1.5 million rooms to their name.
  • From a business management perspective: three Starwood Directors will be joining the Marriott board.
  • From a pricing perspective: basic economics tells us more competition results in lower pricing. Now that these two chains have united, that equals much less competition, which, of course, may vary by market. Combine this with the fact that hotel demand is rising. So once this behemoth of a chain works out the quirks of the marriage, keep an eye on those room-night prices. You might want to tap our Consulting Services Department for some assistance with your next Hotel RFP.

So raise a glass to the new union, and start placing bets on what they'll name their first-born, brand-new brand. Our money's on The StarMar.

Chesley Turner

Written by Chesley Turner