Marriott International is moving to cut group commissions as of March 31, and the proposed policy change is garnering pushback from major industry leaders. How do you think the change will affect your business? Let us know in the poll below, and we’ll feature the results on www.travelagentcentral.com.
The new policy, announced Wednesday a letter to Marriott’s group partners, reduces commissions paid to group intermediaries from 10 percent to 7 percent for all properties in the U.S. and Canada, effective March 31, 2018. The new policy comes a little over one year after Marriott’s mega-merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, making it the largest hotel company in the world. The newly combined business represents 30 brands, including major luxury players like Bulgari, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and more, as well as 5,700 properties worldwide.
Major travel industry groups, including the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Virtuoso, Signature Travel Network and Travel Leaders Group, have criticized the policy as failing to recognize the value travel agents bring to the group booking process.
“While we are in the process of assessing the impact of Marriott’s announcement on our members’ businesses, we are disappointed in the signal that a cut of this magnitude sends to the broader agency community,” says Zane Kerby, ASTA president and CEO. “Travelers – individuals and groups, corporate and leisure – are relying now more than ever on trusted agents to help them sort through a multitude of travel options and get the best value for their travel dollar.”
“It is unfortunate that Marriott has failed to recognize the tremendous value travel agents bring to group bookings and has instead chosen to view their agent partners as just another expense item,” agrees Michael Heflin, senior vice president, hotels, at Travel Leaders Group. “Our agents have built an array of great relationships with individual properties, and we and they understand that this decision was not made by individual hoteliers.”