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Starwood deal means more points for customers: Marriott CEO

[NEW YORK] Marriott International Inc Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson said hotel customers would get "more and more points" as a result of its US$12.2 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. 

The deal "will be hugely positive for consumers," Sorenson said Tuesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. He didn't provide further details on how the companies' loyalty programs will be managed.

Sorenson emphasized the importance of maintaining customer loyalty as it creates the world's largest lodging company. Starwood's popular rewards program was part of what made the acquisition attractive, Sorenson said Monday during a conference call to discuss the deal with investors. The combined company will operate or franchise more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms worldwide. The properties are operated under 30 brands, including Marriott's Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard and SpringHill Suites, and Starwood's W, Westin and St Regis.

Scale is becoming more important as online travel services make it easier for consumers to book rooms and Airbnb Inc eats into hotel revenues by enabling people to rent out their homes to travellers. Still, the vast majority of people prefer to stay at hotels rather than apartments, Sorenson said in the TV interview.