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One of the biggest outstanding questions of the Marriott/SPG/Ritz integration has now been answered. The company has officially announced how existing travel certificates from Hotel + Air packages issued before today (August 18) will convert in the new program. Let’s dive right in:
|Brand||Existing Certificate||Converted Certificate
(valid across combined Marriott/SPG/Ritz portfolio)
|Marriott||Category 1-5||Category 1-4|
|Marriott||Category 6||Category 1-4|
|Marriott||Category 7||Category 5|
|Marriott||Category 8||Category 5|
|Marriott||Category 9||Category 6|
|Ritz-Carlton||Tier 1-3||Category 6|
|Ritz-Carlton||Tier 4-5||Category 7|
As you can see, these all exactly match my predictions (the conservative set) from earlier in the week. While I know many members were hoping for a more generous conversion rate, I do think these are fair. As I noted in that earlier story, the vast majority of hotels at the old levels were sticking around at my predicted (and now confirmed) levels. In addition, certificate holders are gaining access to many additional SPG properties.
Also, keep in mind that Category 8 pricing doesn’t go into effect until 2019, and a Marriott spokesperson confirmed that old Tier 4-5 certificates (which are now new Category 7 certificates) can be used at any top-tier property in the combined program until Category 8 pricing goes live. Since this gives you a window of at least four months to lock in these stays, I think this is a fair compromise.
Finally, it’s worth noting that this new rates will not cross over to other categories when peak/off-peak pricing goes into effect in 2019. Marriott has confirmed that a certificate valid at a Category 6 property will only be valid at Category 6 properties, even though peak pricing for those hotels (60,000 points per night) is the same as standard pricing for Category 7 hotels.
My main complaint is that this information wasn’t communicated ahead of time. While I’ve been crystal clear in my recommendations for what to do with these certificates, I know that many were taking a “wait-and-see” approach, holding out hope for a generous conversion rate. Given that these are converting at a relatively conservative level, why didn’t Marriott just announce it ahead of time to allow its customers to make a fully informed decision?
If you did decide to hold off on attaching your certificates to a Marriott hotel, just a reminder that a month-long blackout period for using these certificates is now in effect. You won’t be able to make any new reservations until September 18, and while Marriott has indicated that simply canceling a reservation with a certificate between now and then is doable, you won’t be able to change a reservation with a certificate until then.
I sincerely hope that many of you took my advice and attached these certificates to a hotel before today, as these conversion rates don’t really offer any sort of “windfall” for any certificate holders. However, if you’re not thrilled with the hotel you’ve booked and want to change your reservation to a legacy Starwood hotel starting September 18, a Marriott spokesperson has confirmed that you’ll be able to do just that.
We’ll continue to update all our coverage of the new Marriott program throughout the weekend and into next week as more of the integration goes live. You can also watch the answers to some of the most common questions about the new Marriott program from TPG‘s Senior Points & Miles Editors, and be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter for up-to-the-minute information!
Featured image by Shutterstock.com.
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