When Marriott Bonvoy members stay 50 nights or more in a year, they can select a benefit of their choice, and then again when they reach 75 nights. The most popular choice, by far, is “suite night awards.”
75% of Marriott’s most frequent guests select the ability to request priority for upgrades to suites. They can choose the nights where they want their upgrades to be ahead of other guests checking in. Beginning 5 days prior to arrival, Marriott will search available room inventory to process their upgrades. However actually using these ‘Suite Night Awards’ is a huge pain point for frequent guests.
- If members spread out their upgrade requests evenly across the year and across all hotels, they would probably all be confirmed!
- But very few people want to upgrade at a Sheraton in Albuquerque. They want to upgrade at a Westin on Maui, during peak season.
- In other words, they want to upgrade when hotels are full and selling all their best rooms for cash. And Marriott doesn’t even make all available standard suites available with these upgrade awards – just standard suites they do not expect to sell.
Suite at Las Alcobas, Mexico City
Marriott Bonvoy will be changing how these upgrades work for 2024, according to internal communications reviewed by View From The Wing and conversations with executives familiar with the matter.
- Hotels will get paid more by Marriott when members successfully redeem Suite Night Awards. Currently hotels don’t get paid anything to upgrade members using a Suite Night Award unless the hotel is more than 85% full. Starting next year hotels will receive reimbursement based on the hotel’s revenue per available room on a given night. It’s still not much compensation, but Marriott explains to hotels that reimbursement is “designed to help offset estimated incremental housekeeping costs associated with these upgrades.”
- More room options will be available. Currently Marriott offers members the ability to confirm upgrades up to a hotel’s ‘standard suite’. However they also at some properties offer other, lesser, room types as well like higher floors or better views. This is going to be expanded.
- More brands will participate. Suite Night awards will become eligible for use at Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, Protea, Aloft, and Element hotels next year. Most Aloft and Element properties really don’t have much in terms of upgrades to offer, however.
- Selling more upgrades for cash. Marriott is “exploring options for members to be able to purchase a confirmed upgrade before arrival through new digital upsell placements and merchandising across the Marriott Bonvoy app and website.” Competitor Hilton has started selling upgrades to elites that, in theory, they should be entitled to free. Marriott won’t be left out of the chase for monetization.
- Potentially changing the 5 day window for clearing upgrades. Marriott will continue to confirm suite night awards from a hotel’s published inventory “that is not forecasted to sell – either through distribution channels or front-desk upsell initiatives.” They’re considering changing the current window to fulfill upgrades which currently starts 5 days prior to arrival and continues until a day prior to check-in. That decision will be made later this year.
Suite Living Room, Sheraton Denver Tech Center
The ‘Suite Night Award’ benefit will be rebranded with a new name for next year. Suite Night Awards is a holdover from the Starwood program, and just like Marriott lit over a hundred million dollars on fire inventing the ‘Bonvoy’ name and giving their credit cards names that all start with B, they’re investing in a rebrand of this benefit as well. Perhaps that will better align expectations, with more non-suite upgrade types available to confirm upgrades into, and won’t have the name Suite as part of the benefit. The new name will be announced in the third quarter of this year.
Members will continue to be entitled to upgrades based on rooms available for their entire stay at the time of check-in, but how upgrades are processed in advance will be changing.
Westin Napa Verasa Suite Living Room
This could mean more upgrades for more members when they express a desire to be upgraded most – but it will still leave Marriott benefits lagging Hyatt (which allows top elites to confirm suites out of all revenue inventory at time of booking several times a year) and IHG (which allows members who stay a minimum of 20 nights to confirm suites out of all revenue inventory starting 14 days prior to arrival). Marriott will continue its superiority over Hilton, which allows but does not require hotels to offer suites to frequent guests.