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Pardon my French: Name review of Bonvoy

By Alex Kelley

March 5, 2019

Though Hotel giant Marriott acquired fellow giant Starwood (master brand of Sheraton, Westin, W, etc.) almost two years ago, their loyalty programs just became integrated this year, under the new name Bonvoy.

With their merger finally consummated, the hotel chains can take their Parisian honeymoon knowing they don’t have to fight over who gets the rewards points. Très cool!




Bonvoy is what we in the biz call a suggestive coined word — it isn’t real, but it is clearly derived from real words — in this case, “bon voyage” and to some extent “envoy.” In a video introducing the name, a suave narrator says, “Bonvoy means ‘good travel,’ and ‘good travel’ guides everything we do.”

The people especially targeted by the rewards program are the mega-hotel users: the people who travel a lot, for work or pleasure. And this name has the perfect tonality for this group.

Responses to the merger of the programs have been mixed, as have been reactions to the new name. (It’s generally hard to disentangle customer feelings about a name from their feelings about the brand, especially when change is involved.)

Bonvoy clearly retains a heavy French flavor. And as you may have read about on this blog before, we Americans have a thing for European-sounding words. French and Italian especially sound classy to us. Like maybe if you sign up for Bonvoy you can get a Bordeaux delivered to your room. Maybe with some bleu cheese. Unless you don’t think we have time for an amuse-bouche before the chauffeur arrives, mon cherie? … Okay, I’ll stop.

I have two more small points to make. One, the deeper sounding vowels give the name a nice gravitas, complementing and supporting its French elegance as well as rhythmic balance, which can make a name more memorable and easier to pronounce.

Which leads me to Point Two: the name has zero pronunciation issues for English speakers, which is important to pay attention to with coined and non-English-derived names. Even people who like to contrive pronunciation issues, like your friend who insists on ordering a “kwa-sánt” at Starbucks, won’t be able to mess up Bonvoy.

Great name!

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