How to Make Sure Marriott Hotels Deliver on New Elite Benefits

My post on the new Marriott program includes a lot of detail you don’t find anywhere else, and that I haven’t seen picked up anywhere else. That’s probably precisely because there’s so much packed in there, and I didn’t highlight all of the color with its own headlines or other emphasis.

Starwood has been strong with elite benefits, with its credit card relationship, but weak rewarding in-hotel spend. Marriott was strong rewarding in-hotel spend but weak everywhere else. The new program takes much of Starwood’s recognition program, but not quite all of it. And it attaches that to something closer to the Marriott rewards program, but not as rich.

Together I think it makes for the best large hotel loyalty program, but member unhappiness comes both from the points devaluation relative to Marriott and the tougher qualification requirements for status (including lifetime status) relative to Starwood.

Westin Stonebriar Chairman’s Suite Balcony

Of course we do not yet know all of the details.

  • They haven’t released the list of which hotels fall into which redemption categories.
  • They haven’t released the program terms and conditions.
  • And we haven’t seen how hotels behave in practice.

Over time Marriott hotel award availability should get better, as they eventually move to a Starwood model where all standard rooms are available for points redemption by rule. But how will hotels handle suites?

I agree with One Mile at a Time, and have written in the past, that Starwood was the strongest chain enforcing rules compliance across hotels and fining properties who misbehaved. I suspect that the Marriott program won’t be as strong at enforcement, even though the chain is known for its uniformity in service delivery. So what will that mean for suite upgrades?

We won’t really know until hotels are supposed to have to upgrade Platinums to available suites, instead of just being allowed or even encouraged to do so.

Presidential Suite, Sheraton San Diego Marina

In addition to any requirements in place at Marriott, though, they also have a new incentive system in place for hotels. As I wrote in my initial post on the new program,

In order to drive hotel compliance with all of these benefits that are new for Marriott properties one executive tells me “elite satisfaction is a measurement that all hotels are compensated on this year” and that’s something new.

Satisfaction surveys are going to matter, especially for elites. Take the surveys don’t ignore them.

Tell your friends who are elite members of the Marriott program. Tell other blogs you read to publicize this as well. Reward hotels that deliver elite benefits with great survey marks and at the same time mark down hotels dramatically that do not.

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. Gary, you said in both posts that they are “moving” to the Starwood model of if there’s a “standard” room available it’s available to use your points. But when the program launches August 1st, if there’s a standard room available will I be able to purchase with points? Or do they have a date when that will happen. I have seen no assurances, and Marriott Rewards is currently still so stingy with their hotels using points.

  2. I’m fuzzy about the Platinum breakfast benefit at resorts. I’m visiting an Autograph Collection resort property in August, what are my breakfast benefits given I’m gold now (Plat post August 1) and potentially qualifying for Plat before then (So maybe Premier Plat post August 1).

  3. Could you please find out exactly what categories of spending will be considered as eligible spending for the purpose of reaching the USD $20,000 target to maintain Ambassador status ??? The sooner we know that the better.

  4. Gary… Sorry if I missed these questions:

    – Will SPG AMEX drop the 20% bonus points when transferring to miles? If so, should I transfer miles to points before the change or will there be some other benefit to holding on to SPG points? (I’m not sure the 1:3 conversion to MARRIOTT points is worth more than the current 20% bonus in miles).

    – What happens to current Marriottt Golds….Will the purported relabeling to plain Platinum still give breakfast?

    Many thanks for your time in responding… you are probably deluged with Qs from your faithful readers… of which we are among your grateful faithful. ( retirees trying to maximize accumulated benefits after working lives on the road!)

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