Marriott Ambassadors Now Expect 5 Days For Email Responses

Marriott offers Ambassador service to their top customers, a carry-over from Starwood. Members used to have an agent specifically assigned to them to take care of all of their stay needs, including making requests and customizing things with hotels and assisting with any arrangements.

The promise was that this person “gets to know you over time” and “provide the personal touches that make each trip special.”

Unfortunately Marriott has increased the requirements for becoming an Ambassador compared to the Starwood days ($20,000 minimum spend in addition to 100 nights), and has stopped providing an actual Ambassador to Ambassador members.

During the pandemic, Marriott performed mass layoffs of the representatives who took care of their best customers. And while Marriott still advertises “Your personal point of contact is always at your service for every stay” Ambassador members no longer get a personal point of contact and can no longer reach out to an individual agent directly as those “addresses will no longer be monitored.”

A reader shared a recent Ambassador interaction that underscores just what the experience has become. They were asking for help with a stay next weekend and followed up after not hearing back about their request for four days. Some snippets from the response they received:

  • “I apologize it is taking a bit for us to get back to you via email currently we are on a 5 day response time.”

  • “I implore you to call into our Global Ambassador Service…We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week with a short hold time.” (Emphasis mine)

  • Calling instead of making them handle requests via email will “help us work towards returning to our 48 hour email response time.”

It’s taking 5 days for Ambassador members to get their emails returned. Marriott considers two days to respond normal. That makes Delta Air Lines call centers seem downright responsive. Even when an Ambassador calls into Marriott, they’re expected to wait on hold.

This member was not pleased with the brush off, telling him to wait, and as a ‘one-time exception’ they offered him assistance after it had been only four days since he’d made a request via e-mail. However they were scolded, “Please keep in mind any requests moving forward will be subject to the time frame for email response unless you call in.”

When I was a Starwood Ambassador I remember wanting to take advantage of both 24 hour check-in and a suite upgrade on the same stay. The problem was that the “Your24” request would be cancelled by the Suite Night Award clearing within 5 days of check-in, and would have to be re-made.

My ambassador pointed out that I could redeem 1000 points for an ‘SPG50’ award (2nd night 50% off) and book the suite directly for the same price I was paying for a base room. I’d meet my goal of having the suite and guaranteeing both early check-in and late checkout. She was awesome, she understood what my goals were and offered the best way to meet them.

There’s no longer a designated person getting to know you and understand your goals and figure out how to organize that for you. Ambassador at Marriott seems more akin to an airline elite desk call center, not a concierge.

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. If there is a global team of agents to answer phone calls 24/7 then why can’t that same global team of agents answer emails 24/7?

    Maybe if Marriott’s IT wasn’t so bad the agents wouldn’t be overwhelmed with simple requests. I’m always getting shorted points or bonus points with stays at Marriott. This requires someone to manually correct what should be automated. At IHG, the points always post correctly. IHG doesn’t give me much as a Spire but whatever IT they use knows how to process and post points.

  2. Marriott has no incentive to be better. And we should stop expecting them to be better. I understand the customer feels shafted but Marriott has made it clear that decent service is optional not mandated.

  3. Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world by the number of available rooms. Accordingly, I expect Marriott to soon adopt this hospitality brand email response standard to guests Bonvoyed during their Marriott stay.

    Ambassador Elite = 5-day email response – Say you’re really sorry.
    Titanium Elite = 30-day response – Just say you’re sorry.
    Platinum Elite = 180-day response – Say, “Well, you should have booked at the Ritz.”
    Gold Elite = 365-day response (366 if it is a leap year.) Say, “Next time, try Mobel 6, and you will appreciate us more.”
    Silver Elite = ignore this guest completely.
    Member status = Treat this guest like gate lice and snub.

    Remember, a quick email response is a highly valued Marriott elite guest benefit.

  4. Five days? This is great! It’s better than when I had a personal Ambassador who took 30 days to respond to an email . . . if at all.

    And, if truth be told, for Platinum and up, it’s all one call center. When you call into the Platinum, Titanium, or Ambassador line, it prompts the agent how to respond. I called in once and the person answered as the Platinum team . . . and then the agent said “oh, sorry, I meant Ambassador. They have some of us on the Platinum team taking some calls for the Ambassador team.” I see.

    ==========

    Along the line of Ambassador benefits, I looked back at my stays at St. Regis under Marriott. Not once did I ever get a room upgrade. At other brands, room upgrades were begrudgingly given. Only at two properties (both Luxury Collection) were upgrades given without even asking. One of those two properties is the only Marriott property at which I will now stay. As for the other, I no longer frequent that city.

  5. I agree with FNT Delta. Bonvoy/Marriott has gone into the toilet. It’s strange to me that I can get better service, and have a more premium experience because of that service, at an IHG Holiday Inn than at a JW. Sure the furniture is nicer, but when a platinum elite can’t get a live person, clean towels, or feel welcomed then it’s IHG Spire Elite getting my business for the smile, the warm hello, and the responsive service.

  6. I just stayed at a Ritz Carlton in Charlotte

    Stunned by the absolute lack of elite benefits. No breakfast. For a property that routinely charges between 500 and 2000 a night that’s crazy. No vouchers offered. Bar was closed on Thursday night before 9:15pm.

    Marriott properties right now are extremely short sighted with how they are treating guests to recoup some losses.

  7. At this point, Marriott should just be called MAAriott. Them and AA are both horrible and should just become one company.

  8. @Mets Fan in NC: Come on. Ritz-Carlton has NEVER offered complimentary breakfast or even club lounge access as a benefit of elite status.

    There are plenty of legit complaints about Marriott and Bonvoy failing to deliver, but this isn’t one.

  9. Soooo happy that I took my business elsewhere years ago . Like I have said before – this would be funny if it wasn’t so sad .

  10. @Gary: A general question.

    It appears that the newson Marriott customer service is always negative and that they are systematically lowering service across the board.

    Is there anything they are doing (in customer service) that is offsetting this?

  11. This all saddens me so much. Once upon a time I fell in love with a Sheraton Property, and so even though I am hardly wealthy, clip coupons, struggle paycheck to paycheck to pay bills I did buy a little stock in ITT which owned Sheraton….and it split. Over the years I have made a little….and I hung on to the stock which became Starwood and now Marriott. IMO every customer no matter how small, no matter how low an income or how much they spend should be treated with respect, dignity and responsiveness. That’s what made this company great. This news is just ….just making me think I should sell out. It’s inexcusable though they have their excuses. Shameful, but they have no shame. Bad attitude from the top down. “WE don’t care because we’re still the biggest and we don’t have to” I take comfort in knowing I did vote against this buyout.

  12. Just stayed at ritz carlton Santa Barbara Bacara. I’m titanium elite. Gonna hit ambassador within in a few stays.. I was pretty annoyed when I arrived as IMO I should of been offered some sort of room upgrade. Even if it was just one category above standard room. As I’m pretty sure not everyone staying at the hotel is Titanium Elite. Spoke up to the manager and he ended up , upgrading us to a ocean view suite. However, it took me complaining. It seems every time I say at a Marriott property I have to speak up to make something happen. And IMO that’s not right at all.. Manager here and I were talking about elite benefits especially titanium elite/ ambassador cuz I’m so close to ambassador and honestly after talking to him it was pretty discouraging to say the least.. Like why am I even Titanium/ or Even try to hit ambassador when your not treated properly. He’s been with Marriott for 15 years things he said about elite member / elite benefits was just incredibly sad. I know in this space we always talk bout being bonvoyed. In a sense if you speak up in most cases Marriott / the hotel seems to fix things. But that’s not how it should be, and that’s just bad business IMO!

    Anyway, just wanted to vent about it lol.

  13. While complaining about elite status benefits at Ritz-Carlton is kind of pointless since the brand is excluded from some of the more common benefits, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is one of the worst Ritz-Carlton properties. It such be one of the nicest but the property is an outdated dump (this was a conversion) and management (Marriott-managed, not a franchisee) don’t care about elites. I was there for a wedding in December 2019 and couldn’t get an upgrade, let alone any kind of room, at 2 pm in the afternoon even though I was the wedding planner and coordinated my arrival time with the events director. They knew I was coming at 2 pm and couldn’t have even the worst category room available. As for an upgrade? Non-existent. My client dropped close to $30,000 on a wedding with this property. Flash forward to 2020, they had the gumption to still charge a resort fee even though most of the included amenities and services were not being offered.

  14. @Gary – speaking of response times – did Marriott ever get back to you about inventory being on AirBnb ?

  15. Ritz Carlton Bacara,Santa Barbara: What a laugh of a “luxury” hotel. The service is terrible, the pandemic seemed to have turned them into a Sheraton, the management has no empathy with customers who have legitimate service complaints (We left early last stay), and refuse to even speak with you unless you insist. No surprises to me in this thread.

    Marriott was an acceptable second choice when I was a Starwood loyalist and lifetime platinum member. Today, I’m beginning more and more to prefer Hyatt, Hilton and even IHG.

  16. Not sure I’d go as far as FNT in actively recommending IHG, as my experience is that bonus points rarely get added. That said, as an earn and burn chain, IHG is very good. I also can’t think of a time when I didn’t get a room upgrade, and the hotel staff whether at a HI Express or Kimpton/IC are always warm and helpful. As for Marriott, as a Lifetime Titanium and multiple years at Ambassador thru SPG into Marriott, everything about the service is significantly worse. Now, I rarely spend 10 nights a year at Marriotts (mostly burning thru points), and instead spend the majority of my time (& money) in Hyatts, with IHG supplementing that.

  17. Marriott, you messed up big time. With excuses of the Covid pandemic that does not give you pass to throw your services out the window and give you right to down play.every member statuses. I am only $5600 to qualify Ambassador. Is it worth it?

  18. I mentioned this on FT but it seems decidedly on topic here…

    I have an upcoming stay in London and got one of those automated “we see you have a stay booked, is it a special occasion?” Emails. I responded back that I was hopefully getting engaged to my long term partner and jokingly asked if they had anything to help make sure a girl says “yes”, just to see what the response would be.

    Keep in mind I’ve been an ambassador guest for the better part of a decade, I requalified the old fashioned way during covid and this stay was an award stay worth over a million points and a $15k cash co pay.

    I didn’t even get a reply in 5 days. Iirc it was 7.

    This compares to the day of old when I could call in and say “I’ve been in a car accident and will be late checking in, please hold my booking” and the response was to offer to send a member of staff 100 miles to personally pick me up, and similar over the top attention to guest needs.

  19. Two months of requests as Ambassador and everyone was met with an excuse and nothing was ever accomplished. Once received an email they would call the hotel for a request two days after checkout.

    Ambassador is like buying an expensive car and when you look inside there are no brakes, radio or steering wheel or a bottle of Tide and it’s empty inside.

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