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Change to Vistana Program With Marriott Merger?

Discussion in 'Vistana Signature Experiences (formerly Starwood)' started by vistana101, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. vistana101

    vistana101 TUG Member

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    Hi,

    I've posted about this before and I know many others have...but I attended a Marriott sales presentation today (silly, I know!), and the salesman, who was an executive at the location, continuously told us that our Vistana timeshares would no longer be able to be converted to points AND that they would all lose the Sheraton/Westin brand names. I told him this was not true due to the license agreement and SPG affiliation agreement, but he insisted that those agreements were made with Starwood and not with Marriott. This is just false sales talk, right; they can't simply disregard the contractual agreements due to the Marriott merger?

    I will say that the inability to convert timeshare points to Marriott Rewards points does not seem like a very positive sign, but I can't imagine that what the salesman said is true. He said they had an executive meeting a few months ago where there were told about this.
     
  2. VacationForever

    VacationForever TUG Member

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    Maybe he meant the restrictions on Vistana timeshare converted SPG points, and that they cannot be converted to MRP on a 1:3 basis. Those SPG points have to be used within SPG hotel system only.
     
  3. dioxide45

    dioxide45 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    All untrue, as you already knew.
     
  4. pacman777

    pacman777 TUG Member

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    I am definitely not one to believe salespeople, but the scenario that he brings up is "possible" and something that I actually thought of and dreading. The Vistana agreement to use the "Westin" and "Sheraton" brand names and the conversion to Starpoints were entered into with Starwood prior to the merger with Marriott. I haven't read the terms of the agreement and the exact legal language, but there could be a likelihood that this agreement can be terminated at any time (especially with the change in control resulting from Marriott's acquisition). Now whether it makes financial sense to Marriott to terminate the agreement is another story but keep in mind that Vistana is a completely separate company that is only paying for the right to use the Westin/Sheraton/Starwood brands.
     
  5. OKPACIFIC

    OKPACIFIC TUG Member

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    Please correct me on this, but I think when Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Corp symbol HOT) sold their timeshare business SVN (now Vistana) to ILG, Starwood (HOT) ended up with 60% ownership of ILG. So when Marriott then acquired what was left of Starwood(HOT), they by default acquired 60% of ILG and hence 60% of Vistana. So any action that Marriott takes detrimental to ILG/Vistana is also partially detrimental to Marriott.This may cause Marriott to want to keep the relationships and branding agreements in place that ILG/SVN/Vistana had with SPG.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  6. dioxide45

    dioxide45 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Not exactly. It isn't Marriott International that has 60% ownership. It is that existing Starwood shareholders owned 60% of the ILG stock after the split and sale to ILG. Those shareholders are individuals or big institutional investors like mutual fund companies. Upon closing of the sale, ILG issued x number of shares for every share that a Starwood shareholder had. It worked out in the end that those Starwood shareholders had more shares than the previous number of ILG shareholders had.

    However, I am sure that the brand agreement is paying Marriott International handsomely for the use of the Westin and Starwood names. When Marriott spun off its vacation club, the agreement was to pay Marriott International $10 million a year in licencing fees as well as a percentage of sales. I suspect the agreement between Vistana and Starwood would have been similar and once the spin-off happened, Marriott International took on that agreement. They don't want to get rid of it because it is basically free money.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  7. vistana101

    vistana101 TUG Member

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    I spoke with a salesperson from Starwood briefly today, and she said that Starwood/Vistana tried to get Marriott to allow Vistana timeshare owners to convert their timeshares to Marriott Rewards points, but Marriott would not allow it. When I told her what the Marriott salesman said, she questioned why I would listen to a sales person from there! She then insisted that all of her 'sources' said that Marriott has decided to keep SPG separate, so we would still be able to use our converted points at SPG properties. I told her that all press releases and corporate information have stated they are creating a newly combined loyal program, so SPG will no longer exist, but she told me I was the 'only one who has said that.' I offered to show her a press release but she then said she another meeting. :rolleyes:

    So truthfully I am not sure what will happen...but not an affirming answer from the Starwood side.
     
  8. YYJMSP

    YYJMSP TUG Member

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    The conversion of timeshare to points for transfer was specifically mentioned as not allowed in both directions (i.e. MVC -> MR -> SPG, and VSE -> SPG -> MR) when they announced the ability to transfer back and forth between MR and SPG.

    Not sure how it is on the Marriott timeshare side, but on the VSE side, the ability to transfer to SPG points is not part of the deed, it's part of the features of the "club" (VSN) and subject to change without notice. I would not be surprised if the features of the club change dramatically when the new combined rewards program comes in to play. At the minimum, I expect a "realignment" of points values.

    How it all turns out, no one is going to tell us until it's all a done deal. The salesweasels on both sides are going to continue to make up and say whatever they want to sell more timeshares.
     
  9. dioxide45

    dioxide45 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Here is how I expect it all to play out.

    • Vistana will continue to use the Westin and Sheraton names on their properties that currently have them and any new properties they build.
    • Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs will be merged. It is too expensive and clunky to maintain two programs.
    • Vistana owners will still be able to convert their weeks or Home Options to StarPoints. Vistana buys the points from Marriott to be able to offer them to owners. It is too much money for Marriott International to say no. I suspect they will change the ratio or number of points once the MR and SPG programs are merged. This change could also impact Marriott owners that convert their weeks to points depending on how they value the currency, but I would expect the 10:1 in MR to survive the merger of programs.
     
  10. canesfan

    canesfan TUG Member

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    Let's just remember that Marriot timeshares aren't owned by Marriot hotels. Whatever the salesperson has to say I take with a grain of salt. They are a distant cousin in terms of company relationships.


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  11. SueDonJ

    SueDonJ Moderator

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    Correct, Marriott timeshares (Marriott Vacations Worldwide - VAC) are not owned by Marriott hotels (Marriott, Int'l - MAR.) But neither are Starwood timeshares (Vistana Signature Experiences - VSE) owned by Starwood Hotels (formerly HOT, now MAR.) In fact the separation between each timeshare company and the single hotel company is greater between VSE and MAR because VAC has a direct contractual affiliation with MAR while VSE does not.

    Currently certain Starwood timeshares can be exchanged for SPG Points through a similar contractual agreement that was reached prior to and has been extended since both the Starwood timeshare spin-off to VSE and the Marriott acquisition of Starwood Hotels. I think Dioxide's post #9 above is spot-on about how this will all play out when Marriott merges the MR and SPG programs, i.e. the ability to exchange certain timeshare ownerships will continue in similar fashion until and after the single rewards program is implemented.

    Getting back to the original post, I think the Marriott sales reps these days are as confused as the rest of us but some, like this one, are taking ridiculous advantage of that confusion. It is true that Marriott's latest official statement to owners/members about the acquisition and future rewards programs merger caused some consternation when it came out months ago, warning that they'll no longer allow the timeshare owners to use MRP's from the exchange of timeshare ownerships for redemption stays at the timeshares. (It's a restriction that's been in the documents forever but prior to this had never been enforced.) It's no stretch to expect more changes, to expect that even though the merged rewards program is not yet defined never mind implemented, its final form will bring changes to Marriott and Starwood timeshare owners alike. But there's been no indication at all that either timeshare company will lose the rewards program affiliation completely.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  12. YYJMSP

    YYJMSP TUG Member

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    The FAQ on the SPG site (and I assume a similar one exists on the Marriott site) says:

    Points earned through an interest in Vistana Signature Experiences or Marriott Vacation Club may not be transferred between SPG and Rewards.

    So it's not "you can't book back in to a timeshare", you are expressly forbidden to transfer the points from a timeshare conversion between programs.
     
  13. canesfan

    canesfan TUG Member

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    I'm concentrating on the line where the salesperson said we'll lose our Westin /Sheraton affiliation which I highly doubt. All this was agreed upon as the deals were brokered at the spin off and sale.


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  14. okwiater

    okwiater TUG Member

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    In order to enforce this, there would have to be a method of identifying and tracking Starpoints obtained through different earning mechanisms. I'm not sure the SPG systems are sophisticated enough to do this. Not to mention, what "color of money" are the Starpoints deposited back into your account when you make an Award reservation and subsequently cancel/redeposit it?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  15. SueDonJ

    SueDonJ Moderator

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    I'm sorry, should have been more clear. It's what you say, that points from timeshare conversions can only be used in the original program, AND, at least on the Marriott side, the restriction that disallows points from timeshare conversions to be used for timeshare redemptions will now be enforced.

    Based on a few TUG Marriott forum posts the Marriott reps are saying that they're able to distinguish on their end timeshare-conversion MRP's from all others. I don't think there have been any reports yet of the restrictions that they say they're going to start enforcing, actually being enforced. It won't be a surprise if what they say doesn't actually pan out in practice.
     
  16. Helios

    Helios TUG Member

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    I've wondered this. This will be like point laundering...
     
  17. Helios

    Helios TUG Member

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    Why? The Ritz program runs parallel to MR. Granted that they use the same currency, but they use Tiers instead of Categories. So, there is Marriott precedence for a hybrid.
     
  18. dioxide45

    dioxide45 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    The only reason they are wanting to prevent points from timeshare conversion being transferee
    I don't see them running three programs. They may merge St Regis in with the Ritz program and the other properties in with Marriott Rewards. It just makes it that much easier to manage long term.
     
  19. SueDonJ

    SueDonJ Moderator

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    In practically all of the related official statements issued by MI's executive office since the MI acquisition of HOT was announced, they've clearly stated that their intent is to eventually merge the two points programs into one although it won't happen before 2018 because of the myriad details. It wouldn't make sense for them to issue these statements, especially in the official filings, if there's a reasonable possibility of keeping the two programs separate.
     
    vistana101 likes this.

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