Nick van Marken, Global Head of Hospitality at Deloitte, who has interviewed Sorenson on the deal, said the most obvious benefit is scale. The Group will now have 30 brands, 5,700 hotels, over one million rooms and will be present in 110 countries. Underpinning that is loyalty. "This is about combining the power of Marriott Rewards with SPG (the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programme). Get this right and you have 75 million loyal customers which Marriott can then try to ensure book direct, reducing the impact of OTAs (online travel agents)." For Marriott, it is also an opportunity to move into spaces it hasn't previously been in. According to Susan Devine, Senior Vice President of Strategic Development with Preferred Hotels & Resorts, 'soft' brands like Preferred, which provides sales and marketing support for independent hotels, have been emerging in the hospitality industry. Now with the consolidation of 'hard' brands like Marriott and Starwood, large corporations will be exploring how they can offer their services to the hospitality industry generally. "The reason they are doing this is because independent hotels don't necessarily need the same things as before. You have the internet now, so does it really matter if you have the Marriott name? You can research a hotel before you go there, so there's an opportunity for hotels to stay independent." Get the full story at Hospitality.Net