Can’t book a Marriott or SPG Hotel? Sadly, you’re not alone.

Well, the day has finally come and gone. August 18th, a day that will live in infamy. It was the day that Marriott promised that all would be well in the world and we would be able to enjoy the “endless inspiration” that comes with a combined program. Your two programs would be merged into one, booking would be seamless across both sites, and peace and harmony would ring throughout the world.

I call bullshit.

Migration

If you’ve lived through any merger or acquisition before you know that it’s not an easy process. Distinct systems have to be reconciled and made into one, people’s information and accounts are all over the place. Internal systems, log-ins, passwords, and even things like HR and Payroll need to be in one happy family. Migration is hard, and that’s why companies provide long timelines for these things to happen.

The websites are still a mess. There’s a banner at the top of almost every page that says:

New loyalty benefits are on the way! Until then, you may experience a temporary disruption accessing your account and other features. Thank you for your patience.  More details

Marriott Oops

Paraside Lost

Like most of you, I tried to book a reservation last night. I wanted to get one of those coveted rooms that would be at a discounted rate only available in that very short-term window of August 18-December 31st. The super expensive Marriott properties would have a grace period where they would not be more than 60,000 points. You could get some awesome deals in a tiny window.

Now, most of these hotels aren’t just any hotel. They’re the hotels that have suites and villas so you have to call to book them. They’re not available to be booked online. 

I looked for my hotel yesterday, saw that it was available, and tried to book. No dice. So I called the ambassador line. They informed me that points bookings were down, and would not be available in the call centers UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY. Seriously?

I called no less than 7 times and got seven different responses:

  1. St Regis? Isn’t that a Hilton Property?
  2. I was told at the beginning of my shift that we are not allowed to make any points bookings so that’s what I’m doing.
  3. We can’t do points bookings until Wednesday of next week
  4. I’m sorry that hotel doesn’t have availability. Looks like if you want to adjust your stay until January I can get you a sister hotel.
  5. You should call your new ambassador for help (and proceeds to give me the email for a manager of the hotel)
  6. You don’t have any points in your account because the Starwood points have not merged over yet.
  7. If your friend booked it online then he got lucky, he’ll probably have it canceled, but I can’t book anything.

What an epic nightmare. Literally, NO ONE was empowered to do anything. Every person that I spoke to was a legacy Marriott employee and received what seemed to be zero training. 

How in the world can you be a Marriott phone employee post merger and not even know that St Regis is a (now) Marriott property?

Second attempt this morning

I logged on this morning to give it another go. Maybe I could get lucky and book my awesome St Regis Maldives experience. Here’s the screen that popped up this time:

Spg Oops

What does it take to fit 29 fabulous brands into one site? A bit more time! I’ll tell you where you can fit your 29 fabulous brands…

Finally when I got the website to show up, the rooms were no longer available. Sure, it shows that you can redeem points for 60,000 points a night, but there is no online booking. All the rooms show paid rates.

How can you book rooms with points?

If you’re looking to book a “legacy” Marriott property with points it seems that you should be OK. Those systems are up and running, at least online. The phone reps that I spoke to still couldn’t see any points availability though.

If you’re looking to book a “legacy” Starwood property, it’s a mixed bag. You might be able to make an online booking if the property is a normal hotel like a Sheraton or Four Points, but if you’re looking for a Villa hotel you’re going to have to call, and that’s where the problems arise. Not a single Marriott rep can see Starwood prperties, and the Starwood reps can’t book anything. Joy.

If you’re able to book the hotel on points, make sure that you get a confirmation number AND email. I was speaking to a close friend who said that he was able to book a hotel on points, but the email confirmation never arrived. We reached out to, once again, Marriott for answers. The elite phone rep said that “points reservations may or may not be honored as we are still merging the two systems. I can’t guarantee that those reservations will be valid.”

Why I’m not OK with any of this…

I get that mergers are hard. Delta/Northwest, American/USAirways, Continental/United. Those all had their challenges. But this one was set up from the beginning by Marriott and SPG to be the best of both worlds. They’ve had almost two years to get their act together. Literally, September 23, 2016 was the merger date. Now, I know that plans didn’t start happening on that date, but in theory, the ball got rolling.

The credit card programs are supposed to be merging as well with both Chase and American Express offering their own distinct products. So far too good on that front at least!

Every communication was about how amazing things were going to be in the new system. We’re going to take care of you. You’re going to love the new Marriott. Members will be able to have more and blah blah blah. It’s another case of how the marketing department and the IT department never actually got together.

Your phone reps have had no doubt weeks of training, if not months of training, and they don’t even know that the St Regis is hotel in their new family? The level of compassion on the phone was nil. I asked one of the reps (on the Platinum Elite line mind you…) if they would at least do me a favor and try to see if the system is up and running in the past few minutes and her response was a big “SIGH… sure whatever I’ll do it, where do you want to stay?” 

I get that you’re having a hard day, but so are we, the customers, who just want to go on a vacation.

 

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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15 Comments

  1. It’s Marriott. I’d try to keep low expectations, which would fit with this entire takeover. It’s been bad and seems unlikely to get better.

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  2. The real issue here is that availability at the aspirational properties has completely dried up due to people speculatively booking ahead of time on old rates thinking they’ll be able to call and switch to new rates… and people today booking cash rates, thinking they’ll be able to switch over to points.

    So depends what Marriott will let people do.

    Post a Reply
    • Well, I can tell you that 1) They won’t be able to change the cash rates because… well… it doesn’t work that way and 2) You’re not going to be able to change the points back as they’ve said that before. You’ll have to cancel and hope to rebook.

      Sorry Charlie!

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  3. Apparently you do not read your email tha clearly stated the site and booking will be a problem for several days. IMHO you caused yourself all of the problems. Grow up,

    Post a Reply
    • Yup. We obviously singlehandedly brought down their system. Obviously. 🙄

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  4. Everyone is just going to have to wait for possibly a week or so for the system to get up to spend …. there were to many moving parts to remotely think this transition was going to be smooth or painless …. The sky has not fallen lol

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    • Except for the hotels that I wanted to book on the dates I wanted to book have now disappeared. Points bookings are like airline mileage bookings. Once they’re gone they’re gone. Marriott has always had the ability to book a room without actually redeeming the points. Not even that is an option sadly.

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  5. went to MR site & tried to book Aloft in Taipei, took points right away but went to system error. no conf #. emailed MR after a call, 4 hrs received email with conf #.

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    • Yea. It’s a mess for sure.

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  6. While I haven’t booked with points, the problem I’m having is that my SPG account now shows Gold and my MR account show Platinum. The problem with this is that I booked the Westin Northwest (near Ohare) with the anticipation that I’d be able to have a 4pm checkout, but since SPG shows me as Gold, I have to leave at 2PM (my flights to Indonesia leave ORD at 8PM). If I knew the benefit levels would be different, I would have planned accordingly. Not a huge problem, but I guess I think that when I doubt, it’s best to error on the side of the customer.

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    • I’m willing to bet that you could talk your way into a 4pm checkout!

      Post a Reply

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