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Digital Transformation

Forrester CX: Loyalty and Marriott International


We are live-blogging from Forrester’s CXNYC this week, the event for customer experience leaders, innovators, and practitioners.

John Dalton interviewed Thom Kozick from Marriott International.

John: Is it about loyalty?

Thom: I was brought on to rethink our loyalty.  Even with SPG joining Marriott, they will only have 15% marketshare in the US.

John: You are going through a massive integration effort. How are you managing that?

Thom: until we clear regulatory hurdles we can only plan.  Even from the outside, I was spending more time as an SPG member until I joined Marriott.  There were hashtag campaign #saveSPG.  But you can’t disconnect that from the fundamental business differences.  Starwood has a different distribution.  They are better in Asia for example.

John: Is it transaction based?

Thom: both are transaction based but SPG rewarded customers at higher levels.Marriott rewarded customers earlier. Example: I spent over $10,000 at Ritz Carlton but never in a room, always in a restaurant.  We need to reconnect to our customer and all their behavior.  When I walked into Marriott I was blown away by their email campaigns.   But needed a deeper understanding.

John: How do you take holistic view of a customer?  What do you measure and how does it change geographically?

Thom: The first part is how to get people to think about it.  It’s challenging to get a company with a legacy to do deep customer research.  The market wants them to get more money out of  room.  You have to address that challenge.

41% of the members of the Ritz Carlton club don’t visit Ritz. They visit other Marriott brands.   So that program is about identity. Once you nail identity, customers will behave irrationally.   You become a fan.

John: Loyalty program has been around for 30 years. Is the discussion around loyalty or around CX?

Thom: It’s around CX. We have a new executive focused on that.   Loyalty is a very different thing in different cultures.  The US are a bunch of points mongers.  Asia not so much. It’s really broken.  Everything has points attached to it.   Even rental management companies have a program. Points are air.

Stop worrying about the points and worry more about the experience.

John: Given the merger activity, can you give us some key “moves” on how to bring you together.

Thom: With Starwood colleagues, respect on what they’ve done well. Understand their view of the customer. They get to know their customers…… when they pay attention.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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