Big Rumored Devaluations to Marriott Rewards Awards and Elite Benefits

Loyalty Traveler reports on rumored changes to the Marriott Rewards program for 2015.

These are uncomfirmed, though Ric is usually quite circumspect in terms of the sorts of rumors he passes along.

  • The points required for award stays will be increased by at least 5,000 points per night across all levels and the 5th night free will disappear. Category 10 will be added and require 60,000 points per night (read mass devaluation).

  • a new level will be announced above Platinum and the requirements will be formally revealed. (i.e. everyone will know how to achieve PP, if that is what it is called)

  • New benefits for Gold, Plat, and the new PP will be announced. These will include things like confirmed suite upgrades (for the new PP), instant upgrades using online check-in, free breakfast (including resorts for the new PP ), free parking, and free “lifestyle events,” at the hotels during your stay.

  • The offerings in the concierge lounges in NA will be enhanced and will include free beer, wine and spirits where local laws permit.

  • However, Concierge lounge access will be eliminated for Golds and Plats unless upgraded to the concierge level rooms. (Gold and Plats will continue to receive free continental breakfast in the restaurant or points.)

  • MR is looking at different models for awarding elite status including annual hotel spend, instead of nights stayed (similar to Delta’s and United FF requirements for elite status). Spend in bars and restaurants will be included. Deeply discounted rates, such as Government Rates, group and convention rates, and special promotion rates will not count towards the spend requirement.

  • Dropping club lounge access for Golds and Platinums (a 75 night leevl is a big hit. Personally, and this varies property-by-property I often prefer breakfast. But breakfast on weekends as a benefit only for elites above the Platinum level at resorts is still a large way behind what chains like Hyatt, Hilton, and Starwood offer. And of course not offering lounge access to 50 and 60 night elites is far behind competitors as well.

    New benefits for top tier Platinum Premiers, a level which exists now but that would be published, are good — but for most members these are downgrades.

    And award chart price increases across the board — after a series of award chart devaluations in recent years — is a big downgrade for everyone.

    We’ll see of course how these changes correspond to what Marriott actually announces — for which there isn’t any ETA.

    About Gary Leff

    Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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    1. Hm, do you think that giving out matching Gold status to United MileagePlus members like candy has something to do with this?

    2. This would definitely steer me clear of Marriott’s in the future, and it’s a consistent brand that I’ve enjoyed for awhile. Hitting Platinum or even Gold through actual stays is already a high benchmark in the industry, and these changes would gut those elites in comparison with other brands.

    3. Maybe now the Marriott kool-aid drinkers will open their eyes and acknowledge there are other loyalty programs that can provide similar if not better perks.

    4. Hotel programs have become so devalued that I no longer pay attention to them. The rewards for loyalty are so diluted that I now use location and a good balance between quality and price as the determining factors on which hotel I choose. Recent trips included stays at Kimpton, Okura and independent SLH properties. I am a former Diamond level in both Hilton and Hyatt programs.

    5. As a current Gold through Marriott, and not through United, this would be really bad. I’m sitting on a pretty good stack, trying to save up enough to get 5 nights for 4. They did a big devaluation last year, moving nearly every urban place up a rung on the ladder, so even more devaluations of points would be really bad. Would probably terminate my Marriott Credit Card and look into moving stays elsewhere.

    6. Marriott is already one of the least rewarding programs out there for elites– they have no breakfast at resorts, allow properties to opt out of breakfast on the weekends (in exchange for points that are worth about $5-10), and they don’t give elites breakfast (or any benefits to speak of, really) at Courtyard, which is actually one of the biggest flags under Marriott (there are more Courtyards than full service Marriotts, JW Marriotts and Renaissance combined).

      But the thing is… Marriott can pretty much do what they want because their huge footprint, breadth of flags, and consistency (something Hilton can’t match) is almost untouchable.

    7. WOW! So thankful I burned up MY 500K points down to less 10K in the last year and already moved to another program! Really enjoying Hyatt and SPG!

    8. Dear Marriott, due to rumors of massive devaluation of elite benefits in 2015 (at which point there won’t be so many benefits, I’m moving right now to Hyatt/SPG. I wonder what their answer would be…

    9. I’ve never “committed” to a frequent stay program and have always just stayed someplace that is convenient and otherwise fits my needs/desires. I was considering changing my mind about that with respect to Marriott, given that I now had status through UA. So much for that.

      The funny thing is that I haven’t taken the same approach re: airlines, but I’m starting to move in that direction.


    10. I got an offer today for a Marriott card with 70K point signup. I was going to get it, but not sure if its still worth it.

    11. So if your employer is the govt, your Marriott stays would no longer count toward any status. And, if your employer is a business but you’re attending a convention, your Marriott stays would no longer count toward status.

      I don’t think there’s any reason for me to stay at a Marriott, then. At other hotel brands, my stays will eventually earn me a reward. But at Marriott, they wouldn’t (if these changes come to fruition). EASY choice.

    12. This is one loyalty program where I never thought the elites were “over-entitled.” It kind of amazes me that the Marriott folks would think they need to do less for their most loyal customers. At this point, you’d kind of wonder why they’d have a loyalty program at all. Just for window dressing?

    13. DFWSteve is right, there is NO reason to go chain, NO reason to go for elite, and NO reason to not book on OTAs. Some OTAs make things easier. Sure Marriott offers cookie cutter reliability but like McDonald’s its sometimes better to kick bad habits. I really, really try to go for smaller or non-affiliated hotels and so far its worked out well. I suggest others do the same. Oh and the value of location is so important. Devalue all you want, but without elite benefits there is no point in most Chain Hotels.

    14. They want the stays but they don’t want to give you benefits, or at least they want to reduce costs by keeping the high revenue guests & not the el cheapos.

      I currently have have plat or diamond with 3 of the 4 big chains. I just spread my 100+ or so nights around – if they want to take away that status somehow I will just stop staying with them and move to Hyatt or another smaller chain. No big loss.

    15. My only issue is the restriction of lounge access for Platinum (as a PP member). If I am not upgraded, this is a big loss. Otherwise it only effects mid-tier and lower.

    16. “Ric is usually quite circumspect in terms of the sorts of rumors he passes along.”

      You realize this was lifted, verbatim, from a post on MarriottInsider from a new user, with a private email, who said he “spoke with someone” about changes begin “discussed” and noted that much could be “simply speculation”.

      I realize fearmongering sells clicks, but at least provide some attribution so readers can realize the complete lack of foundation behind the story.

    17. Having most of my travel in Australia, hitting Marriott gold is already pretty difficult, and to devalue the benefits of that level would definitely make me move the accommodation budget of my organization to another chain. But the devil will be in the detail.

    18. Our group was just looking at Marriott. If this is true, I will hold true to my IHG loyalty.
      I hope they consider the downside of the number of stays they would lose…

    19. Marriott is a good consistent brand and their quality is top notch. However, when you give away Gold status for the price of a UA credit card it really devalues the status. To take even more away from elites and still require 75 nights or more a year would be madness.

    20. Wow, as a Marriott Plat, this would easily kill my loyalty. I’ve always been pretty loyal because Marriott is pretty consistent, and free breakfast/wifi made it worth it (I could care less about upgrades when travelling for business).

      Oh well, it will be an easy switch to SPG in 2015 then.

    21. For what it’s worth a community manager at Marriott Rewards Insiders responded on one of these threads directly. The response post is below.

      Re: 2015 Devaluation (rumor mill)

      communitymanager Community Manager Marriott Associate
      communitymanager Mar 14, 2014 10:47 AM (in response to ks77)

      There are no changes planned to Elite benefits. There is nothing hidden in these words – we have no devaluation of Elite benefits in the discussion, planning or execution phase. No ‘later this spring’ announcement of any kind planned. No new levels. No changes to concierge lounge access. No “Delta” model. Annual award category changes will be announced next week.

      The Community Manager’s Profile Link

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