Starwood Acquisition Makes Marriott the Big Dog
It’s a good time to be a part of the Marriott brand. After Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels and Resorts, some of the top brands in hospitality are now all under one roof – Marriott, Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis. And these are just a handful of 30 top hotel brands now folded under the Marriott umbrella.
How big a monopoly is this? According to the Associated Press, Marriott now controls 1 out of every 15 hotel rooms on the planet. That means a footprint of 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries, a number that surpasses Hilton’s mark of 766,000 rooms.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson gushed about the acquisition in an interview with the Associated Press: “We’ve got an ability to offer just that much more choice. A choice in locations, a choice in the kind of hotel, a choice in the amount a customer needs to spend…”
For customers with either the Marriott or Starwood loyalty program, the news is just as good. Now their program card will eventually be acceptable at any hotel under either chain’s big brand. For now, the programs are separate, but media reports say this is a temporary situation that will be resolved as the deal is completed and the two companies can begin to bring their administrations together.
Because hotel brands are typically franchised to individual development groups, hotel owners may actually own several different brands in the same city. It’s actually not uncommon for an owner to have a Marriott, a Hilton and another brand in their portfolio in a single city.
For travelers, brand loyalty is important, but customer service is even more so. Eight out of ten travelers look at price and reviews online. They are looking for specific items and amenities to help them make their hotel decision. That’s where customer service and consumer experience can make or break the chosen destination.
Being able to offer a trusted brand like Marriott is an important facet of a hotel’s success. Even when the owner is different, city to city, consumers “know” what to expect when they book under a familiar brand. If the management of both Marriott and Starwood take the best from both of their companies and combine these, it could prove to be a big win not just for them, but for the millions of travelers they serve.