Marriott pounced on Starwood. There’s no question that Marriott’s surprise announcement to acquire Starwood was one of the biggest stories in the travel industry this year. The merger will make Marriott the largest hotel business in the world, and it’s got many loyal Starwood Preferred Guest members worries about what will happen to their loyalty points when Marriott gets involved. Few details have been revealed, but CEO Arne Sorenson promises that Marriott Rewards will remain a strong program for members, which does little to calm the concerns of those with a big bank of SPG points. Accor acquires Raffles. Accor jumped on the chance to acquire Raffles, which also includes Fairmont and Swissotel brands. This addition to will help Accor loyalty members add more options to redeem points for free nights. So far, as with Marriott and Starwood, details are slim about what the combined loyalty program would look like. Hotels try to steal each other’s business. Right after Marriott announced it was joining forces with Starwood, the claws came out. Hyatt began providing status matches, offering elite members of other loyalty programs equivalent status in Hyatt Gold Passport. Hilton followed suit with a status-matching offer that is still ongoing. Hotels are not new to status matching, but this year hotel companies seem particularly aggressive. Get the full story at USA Today