I haven’t kept up with many of my ‘track changes alerts’ on various loyalty program websites and terms and conditions. JT Genter has, and has picked up several recently. One he noticed is a change to the terms of Marriott Suite Night Awards.
Marriott elites earn a choice of benefits at both 50 and 75 nights. The most popular choice at each level is 5 Suite Night Awards, priority for upgrades on specific nights of a member’s choosing where the upgrades are processed up to 5 days in advance of check-in.
When Starwood introduced this nearly 8 years ago, the theory was this would distribute upgrades to members when they cared about the upgrade most and it would take the vagaries of upgrades out of the hands of individual hotels and front desk clerks and assign upgrades centrally instead based on published room inventory.
- Upgrade requests weren’t distributed evenly. Everyone wanted to be upgraded at the Westin Maui not the Sheraton Tucson. That made requests hard to fill.
- Hotels learned to game the system, withdrawing and returning rooms to inventory to avoid honoring upgrades. (And Marriott is far more lax than Starwood in terms of what rooms had to be offered in the first place.)
JW Marriott Cancun, credit: Marriott
Many Marriott Platinums see their suite night awards expire unused. Nonetheless, when they work they’re great.
Marriott has made two changes to Suite Night Awards, each reflecting problems with Marriott’s own internal systems that they’ve been unable to solve.
- Suite Night Awards cannot be used on prepaid rates. A change temporarily in place until Marriott comes up with a fix, guests with prepaid bookings have had problems using suite night awards on their reservations so Marriott is saying the awards cannot be used on those reservations.
- Suite Night Awards cannot be used on multi-room reservations. Since these awards weren’t processing when more than one room was in a reservation, Marriott is insisting that guests make one booking at a time if they want to apply Suite Night Awards to more than one room on a given stay. (Suite Night Awards cannot be gifted, the member must be on property but can use the award for more than one room during that stay.)
These changes aren’t major, they simply reflect what’s actually going on right now with the Suite Night Award benefit – bringing program terms into alignment with how the program works. However it’s a sad reflection that 15 months after launching the new loyalty program they still aren’t able to technologically deliver the benefits that were promised.