Marriott Bonvoy Sending Out Thanksgiving Gifts to 100 Night Elites

Starwood pioneered assigning each 100 night guest to a staff member who would handle all their needs with the chain. Marriott built out that program after acquiring Starwood, though they’ve increased the requirements to have one up to 100 nights and $20,000 in spend.

When I had an Ambassador a couple of years ago they were excellent, helping me find rates I wouldn’t have thought to book and taking care of confirming 24 hour check-in and out times with hotels. I lucked into an outstanding agent, so it was a real loss when I didn’t spend 100 nights with Starwood again (I was committed to also continuing to hit top tier status with Hyatt and my travel dropped slightly).

This year it appears that Marriott is sending Thanksgiving gifts to its Ambassador members. A reader shared that they received a cheese board as a Bonvoy Ambassador elite member.

Inside are suggestions about cheese, the board, and cheese knives. That’s a nice enough rather generic gift, of course, though it’s not clear what these have to do with Thanksgiving (other than perhaps having people over to use them, and Marriott hopes they’ll prompt conversation by their best customers about the chain). It’s not clear why cheese boards are connected to the Ambassador level either. Although the 13 year old boy inside me is tempted to say that Bonvoy cut the cheese.

Indeed the Ambassador program is supposed to be all about personalization. I would hope each Ambassador would select from a list of gifts the item they believe is most appropriate to the member, based on getting to know the customer.

Ambassadors are spread too thin with Marriott substantially increasing the workload for each one. Marriott currently has too many Ambassador members but with the new $20,000 minimum spend requirement kicking in next year the number will fall.

Member experiences with Ambassadors vary. That was true in the old Starwood program, and it’s true for Hyatt (where they are called concierges). However whether a member has a good concierge or a poor one, and whether that concierge has enough time to think about a member and their requests, Ambassador members are at least getting cheese boards.

If you’re a Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador member, did you receive a gift? And if so was it a cheese board or something else?

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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  1. Obviously Marriott scooped up those cheese boards before they could hit Overstock.com.

    Stuff like that is something one already has one of (and does not need another) or has learned to live without.

  2. So, the gifts are not for “100 night elites” but for those that made Ambassador status. I have 134 nights thus far, so no gift.

  3. Looks like the link got caught by your filter, but the exact same cheeseboard is $7 each when buying 1000 of them on Alibaba.

  4. I would be happy if Marriott just made some reasonable effort to get their flagged properties to honor the Bonvoy benefits they have already promised.

    “I’m sorry sir, we don’t offer room upgrades to Platinum elites at this property”

    Why not? It’s 11 PM and there are a dozen upgraded rooms FOR SALE on Marriott.com?

    “Bla Bla Bla Bla”

  5. Ben, thanks for sending the link!
    Well done.

    I’m curious how toxic this made in China set is? Lead and glue!

    Last years’ gift was a cheap vinyl laptop bag and a Marriott pen; about $5.

  6. I got mine on Saturday, as a complete surprise. It’s a wonderful mathom. I suppose it should be the thought that counts when you are a lifetime titanium and 10 year 100+ nights loyal traveler and still can’t get an email or phone call returned from your assigned ambassador, or any of those suite night awards to clear. They’ll at least give you something to play with while you’re on hold. Hyatt is getting a much bigger slice of the cheese next year.

  7. I have gold status at Marriott and Explorist status at Hyatt. I would consider those two statuses to be roughly equivalent. Everytime I stay at Marriott, I get little to nothing from my status and I never get any unexpected perks. At Hyatt, I’m guaranteed real benefits and I’m often (usually?) surprised by getting more perks than mandatory. Who do you think now gets most of my business?
    FWIW, I’d find this gift kind of stupid and marginally insulting.

  8. I guess Marriott lost my address as I have not received my gift. I have spent well over $20,000 and 150 nites, and 10-years elite lifetime. Status does not matter…..

  9. I received mine. I’m re-gifting it.

    I would have rather received a thank you card personally signed by someone.

  10. I stayed at a Marriott Townplace Suites for 5 MONTHS, and because my insurance company paid for it, they would not give me any points. Very stingy Marriott!! Who cares who pays for it? Wyndham gave me points and I’ll be using THEIR hotels from now on!

  11. I remember that when I got married my ambassador sent me his and hers robes. The same ones that I had a dozen of hanging in my closet already. It was a very nice gesture but if I was running the program you can bet those robes would have been monogrammed. It would have been more thoughtful.

  12. I received the cheese board today. It was a very nice gift. Marriott has always been great about sending out gifts to the top tier rewards members. I have had Ambassador status with Marriott since it was introduced and with Sheraton prior to that. I also had Platinum Premier status with Marriott prior to the Starwood merger. My experiences with Marriott and Sheraton have all been good.

  13. I always thought I was the highest level Marriott had, boy was I mistaken!!! Looks like I’m dog dirt now! It would be nice if someone is honest and explain what happened to my previous status!

  14. I am at 140 nights but $400 shy of 20000. I will hit it the week after Thanksgiving but it doesn’t really matter as I see no use in the ambassador. I have also never gotten an upgrade.

  15. I miss my Starwood. I’m just a regular Joe and can’t spend 20,000 a year just to get some status. All we want are the few perks we got under Starwood.

  16. I got the same gift on Saturday. I guess it’s a nice thought, but I will drop off at my local Goodwill and pass the “Gouda” will on to someone else. (I already have 5 other nicer cheese boards and this just adds to the clutter.)

  17. Imagine how many more Ambassadors they could have hired rather than fund this gift and the postage. Better service please, less junk.

  18. I renewed ambassador status this October. I didn’t receive anything. I do believe I have a US address, but reside overseas.

    Ambassador service has declined since the merger, but I generally get upgraded except in US.

  19. I’m only a Titanium since I will never generate the $20K spend. As for Ambassadors believing they might be the highest status, sorry. That level is called Cobalt.

  20. These gifts have been notoriously terrible from the start.

    Why not offer a $50 Marriott Gift Card or something?

    177 nights and $36,540 spend this year — so re-qualified for next year while also having Ambassador and Lifetime Titanium Elite for years.

    No gift but maybe better off so less clutter.

  21. Got one of the cheese boards. Just can’t wrap my head around who thought this was a good idea. The laptop bag and pens last year were at least useful. I’ll be at 170+ nights and $26K by the end of the year – I don’t really have a lot of time at home for entertaining – and that’s with not being on the road for the first 2 months of the year.

    Will probably just take it over to the donation center.

    And as for the value of the Ambassador program – meh. Came through one time this year (credit where credit is due: the staff at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis were fantastic during a trip I took with several friends earlier this year), but otherwise I’ve been completely underwhelmed.

    I currently have the flexibility to choose my hotel for my business travel. I’ve decided to make the leap to Hyatt after a very long time being loyal to Marriott.

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