Is Marriott Eliminating The Meetings Trick For Elite Qualifying Nights?

A decade ago I wrote about the meetings and events trick to earn cheap Marriott Platinum status.

  • Marriott Rewards gave 10 elite night credits for every meeting held
  • There are reports of meetings as cheap as $20 at limited-service properties in Southeast Asia, but a couple hundred bucks in the U.S. was normal.
  • That made this the cheapest mattress run going, and it was quick and easy

In fact, someone earning 15 elite nights with a credit card needed 60 more for Platinum. Six meetings did the trick. Do it at the start of a year and status was good for basically two years.

The Marriott Bonvoy program did away with this leveraged play, limiting you to one meeting per year earning 10 elite nights. Still, with 15 nights from a co-brand credit card and 10 from a meeting that makes 50 night Platinum status achievable after just 25 nights in hotels.

A Marriott meetings sales manager shared that they learned from headquarters that the elite qualifying night benefit exists “at least through the end of this year, I believe it will not exist next year.”

I asked Marriott about an impending change and a spokesperson shared, “We have no updates regarding the benefit at this time. If that should ever change, we would communicate it to our members.”

Let’s parse this.

  • “No updates” means they aren’t sharing anything, it doesn’t mean no plans to make this change.
  • Indeed, instead of suggesting no change is on the horizon they’re saying that they will communicate anything they do change.

Marriott did not deny that the 10 elite nights for any event benefit is changing, although it’s not clear when or what the change will be (they simply promise to tell us if they make changes).

My read is this: if you want to take advantage of this opportunity in 2020 it might be a good idea to do it early in the year. Marriott has already made changes to its terms and conditions (without notice!) since the new program launched less than a year and a half ago.

We’ll have to see how this develops for future years.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. They should close this loop hole. It was intended that legitimate meetings (likely with an associated took block) got bonus nights. I have no problem with Marriott either eliminating it or introducing a minimum spend (or room nights) for the “meeting”.

    This was gaming the system and people like Gary and other bloggers have made it so known OF COURSE it will be closed down (as it should)

    BTW Lifetime Titanium but hate to see people game the system to get status/points they frankly don’t deserve.

  2. Too good to last thanks to massive publicity by bloggers and some abuse by a few properties that sold rooms for “phantom meetings”

    A shame as I need 1 more year of Plat for lifetime Plat and was hoping this would get me over the hump next year.

  3. also be aware, the 5 Elite Night Credit (at 50 & 75 nights) now count toward lifetime status.
    not a blogger myself but glad to learn & pass along low hanging fruits… the hotel has fleece customers way more than they admit. heck don’t do any more ‘enhancements’ , just keep what it is now or was before.

  4. Mattress runs are already stupid enough (but in some edge cases can still provide meaningful utility – yes i do know of overly rich idiots who literally mattress run from 0 nights to SPG Platinum just for the status) and this is 10x worse. Cuz the true RevPAR from hosting any meeting is actually the attendees staying on-site and making discretionary non-room-rate spend.

    I’m not a travel agent and don’t care about managed travel at all, but I’d imagine those agents maintain a cordial relationship with the hotels by actually consciously routing the attendees to stay at the same property. This scheme really ruins that trust cuz all it achieves and conditioning the hotel general managers to always assume the inquiring agents have nefarious intent until proven otherwise.

  5. Long overdue. The credit for fake meetings has been a scam for years. Those taking advantage of it are not to be blamed, but it reflects very poorly on Marriott for having allowed it to continue year after year.

  6. Sounds like Gary has some inside info. Oh no! :/ -Someone who is barely platinum.

    On a more serious note, Marriott has been a sweet spot for mid range travelers. It may still have a claim on many in the 35-50 night per year group, but I wonder if this moves another chunk of travelers to Hilton

  7. Hi Gary,

    Just want to post an update.

    I just held a “legitimate” meeting at Aloft Jakarta last week & received my 10 elite nights after 2 days.

    The sales rep from Aloft told me that this 10 nights credit perk is going to be once per lifetime. But I couldn’t find the wordings anywhere on Marriott’s website.

  8. The amount of abuse is minimal at best. Marriott gets free publicity from bloggers showing this trick.

    It also costs Marriott zero dollars to offer.

    The only thing I’d ban is phantom meetings. People should be required to at least show up, if they dont, they lose their money and the credits.

  9. @Gary

    The program is indeed changing – just saw the internal comms stating this through a contact.

    “Members will no longer earn 10 Elite Night Credits for the first event of the calendar year with Marriott Bonvoy Events. This change does not affect the current points / miles earn structure.

    This update will be included on MGS to share internally. The program T&C will be updated before end of the year, until then this change has not been publicly shared”

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