What will the Marriott and MGM Resorts partnership look like?

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One of the biggest hotel loyalty developments of the summer came from Las Vegas, where MGM Resorts and Marriott announced a new partnership shortly after MGM and Hyatt revealed they were parting ways on their own linked loyalty deal.

Marriott and MGM executives were pretty tight-lipped as far as details go about the new collaboration, but recent earnings calls from both companies gave a little more context of how the two will work together.

Of course, we also have a wish list of our own for what we’d like to see when MGM Resorts and Marriott officially begin their partnership at the start of October.

Higher Las Vegas room rates

The Marriott and MGM Resorts linkup appears to be a closer deal than prior partnerships for the casino resort operator. For starters, this is a 20-year deal that operates more like a traditional franchise agreement and “not just some sort of loyalty lockup,” Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano said on a company earnings call earlier this month.

MGM Resorts CEO William Hornbuckle similarly noted on an MGM investor call this month that the Marriott deal “goes a little deeper and longer, which we’re excited by” in reference to how the two companies are slated to work closer together in the new partnership. There’s even a new brand collection — the MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy — launched out of this new agreement.

One area Hornbuckle appeared most excited by was the higher room rates that would likely come from working with Marriott and its booking channels. Further, it means the 180 million Marriott Bonvoy members can earn and redeem points at 17 MGM-affiliated properties in the U.S.

“This agreement will enhance our profitability by driving lower customer acquisition costs and with a better mix of higher [average daily room rates] and on-property spend,” Hornbuckle said.

In short: Don’t expect too many $25-per-night rooms at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino to run up your elite-qualifying-night count for higher Bonvoy status.

“By 2025, our expectation is that the Marriott customer base represents a meaningful segment of our hotel mix at premium rates,” Hornbuckle said.

Bonvoy meets BetMGM

MGM clearly has other plans for Bonvoy members than just filling up casino resort guest rooms and suites. Hornbuckle noted a potential for Bonvoy members to feed into the BetMGM online gaming and sports betting platform.

“We have a program that I think that’s going to motivate Bonvoy points for those folks ultimately. It sits independent with BetMGM today, but I think it’ll be a key driver,” Hornbuckle said. “And when you have 180 million people aware of a product, we think it’s pretty significant and interesting, and they can get rewarded in Bonvoy points and ultimately do things, both inside that organization and ultimately back within our own.”

Key differences from the Hyatt-MGM marriage

Hyatt’s partnership with MGM Resorts was a highly utilized World of Hyatt perk, as it enabled higher-tier Hyatt loyalists to get MGM Rewards Gold status (and therefore get free self-parking, priority check-in and waived resort fees). But this wasn’t a perfect marriage, either.

Despite there being a partnership, there was clearly a friction point between making reservations via World of Hyatt for an MGM property. It could take weeks — sometimes months, from personal experience — for points and elite-qualifying nights from an MGM Resorts stay to appear in one’s World of Hyatt account.

Given that both Hornbuckle and Capuano appeared to indicate the Marriott-MGM partnership would go further than just a loyalty linkage, there’s reason to believe some of these issues won’t be a problem under the new working relationship.

What we’d like to see from Marriott and MGM

Expect to get full details on the Marriott and MGM partnership between now and the launch of the program in October, but there are a few areas we expect are getting studied for potential opportunity.

Even before the Marriott partnership came along, MGM Resorts showed a willingness to enter the stand-alone hotel orbit without a casino attached. The company was interested in building a Boston convention hotel that eventually affiliated with Omni, according to a 2014 report in the Boston Globe. It was also planning a 21-story hotel in Nashville with a music venue capable of accommodating 4,000 attendees. MGM eventually dropped out of the project, the Nashville Business Journal reported in 2021.

There’s still enormous potential for MGM Resorts to get into hotels beyond its sprawling casino resorts, especially as the brand is known for hosting major events and conventions. It could provide a niche offering within Marriott’s broader convention hotel orbit.

Of course, we’re also expecting Marriott and MGM to provide a more seamless user experience between the two loyalty programs.

Match prices on both reservation platforms and sync up loyalty benefits (oh, and have points and elite-qualifying nights appear in a timely manner), and travelers will be happy.

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