Marriott loyalty programs to merge August 18
The Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs will officially operate as a single unified program starting August 18, 2018. This marks the first time since Marriott acquired Starwood in 2016 that members will use the same guidelines and receive the same benefits under each of the three programs.
Customers are advised to review the Free Night Award Chart to see what the new redemption levels will be after the merger. According to hotel officials, 31 percent of the properties will switch to a more expensive redemption rate, while 51 percent will move to a lower rate.
Under the unified point currency system, members will earn 10 points per dollar spent at most brands. Lower points are awarded at select brands including Element, Residence Inn, TownPlace Suites and Marriott Executive Apartments.
After the official conversion takes place members of Starwood Preferred Guest will see their Starpoints balance multiplied by three. They will also receive a new nine-digit account number through a pop-up when members log into their account. Marriott warns that during the conversion on August 18, that loyalty services will be temporarily unavailable.
Finally, Marriott said it will launch a new SPG app to mirror the functionality of the Marriott Rewards app.
New visitor tax for New Zealand
New Zealand’s government recently approved a new tax for visitors that will be used to fund infrastructure projects and conservation initiatives in the country. The visitor tax will go into effect mid-2019 and will cost NZ$35 (about $25 USD).