Marriott Changes Rules for Suite Night Awards (Advance Confirmed Elite Upgrades)

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.

In practice,

  • 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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. This is a scary admission that they are letting elite benefits just *rot* on the *vine*. This is bizarre underinvestment from a company with a market cap of $42 billion. My prediction is this SNA program gets revamped into something more functional or removed entirely. As it stands, it merely serves to piss off loyal members.

    Try to apply a SNA to the St. Regis Mexico City or the Aloft El Segundo, to name two of my most recent examples. You can’t. Why? Shrug.

  2. @stvr: I had no trouble here applying SNAs to StR Mexico City. Not sure why you had issues unless, as noted above, it was a non refundable rate. Not sure why anyone would bother to use SNAs at an Aloft that rarely if ever have real suites, either.

  3. I have been able to always use my SNAs. Thankfully.

    But still – F Marriott. Such a GD clown show they are running in Bethesda.

    Happy to have moved over to Hyatt!

  4. Titanium elite. Switched to Hilton when Bonvoyage rolled out. Leaving 5 suite upgrades on table because you can’t use them. Couldn’t be happier with Hilton after years of loyalty with Marriott. See ya.

  5. Last time I used a SNA, I was actually downgraded from my preupgrade as an AMB. I didn’t understand at the time as this was a resort W and figuring out the code on that is an Enigma. In fairness this is a unique property that has been more often than not friendlier with elites than average though it helps that their ratio of suites to standard rooms probably the highest in the US. Larger point being that I have never gotten an upgrade with an SNA above what I could have gotten walking in the door and most times I use them regardless if I book months in advance they aren’t confirmed more than a day out and I’m using them because I’m dragging family along and getting that bigger room means a lot more if I have a gaggle of kids in tow and since booking an adjoining room has its own issues it’s like Marriott is begging me to just Airbnb… we all complain about boycotting this that and the other and they just don’t care, well not until the next recession anyways. Then I hope you people remember your protest and not come back open arms…

  6. I’ve only had negative experiences with these. I keep trying to use them, they deny for various reasons. I was Ambassador but won’t be next year, in significant part because I don’t get any benefit from the status

  7. I have NEVER successfully used a Marriott SNA. Too many hotels are exempt. I now take the $100 donation instead.

    Another reason why my Marriott night count fell from 120 in 2017 to only 12 now.

    Hello Hyatt.

  8. @mltravler

    Most alofts don’t have suites, but the one in Brooklyn does and I’ve been able to use SNAs there

  9. I work for a branded Marriott hotel. SNA are based on availability. Your request to use a SNA is directed to the hotel you want to reserve. If there is a suite available for the dates requested, the hotel has the discretion of approving or denying the request.

  10. I think my post was misunderstood. The aloft el Segundo and st Regis Mexico City are literally broken with the SNA engine. This isn’t random whining. Actual IT failures.

  11. Marriott has really declined. Being a lifetime Platinum and now a BS Titanium, will look at Hilton for better benefits

  12. No problem using my SNAs for two ocean front suites at Wailea Beach Resort this year. Never left any SNAs unused for past few years. But, I agree with general sentiment. Why spend all the effort and spend to earn suite upgrade certificates that aren’t guaranteed to be useful and we should get the upgrades for free anyhow as elites. For example, I’ve received suite upgrades at Hilton LAX on free night stays with only elite status from Amex cards.

  13. Marriott is like the Walmart of Hotels. I’m Titanium Elite and I can’t stand to use Bonvoy benefits (if you can actually call them that!!). I also became a Hyatt Globalist within 2 months of the infamous August 2018 new Marriott program (such a disaster).

    Hyatt is way better.

    I get breakfast at EVERY property (not so at Bonvoyage).

    I don’t pay resort fees (not so at Bonvoysge).

    I don’t pay for parking (including valet) (not so at Bonvoyage)

    As a former SPG Platinum w/ambassador I frequently ask a former SPG property how they have enjoyed the “Marriott Way” and they all roll their eyes and say they miss SPG so much. So do I!!!

    Marriott might have over 1,000,000 rooms but there are over 1,000,000 reasons to avoid Marriott like the plague.

    So I guess Bonvoyage is appropriate!!

  14. I don’t understand . The only place I have no problem with is if I book at a courtyard Marriott .
    It’s like “ no, we would make more money on suites or good spaced room so demy the points s”

    I need to book an extended stay. I will bet anyone they will not give me the free 5 days and all my points unless I stay at a tiny room at a courtyard!!!

    P.S. I’ve been a member over TWO DECADES

  15. Has anyone asked Marriott to extend or offer an alternative amenity since it took them 10 months to change the policy that affected over 40 stays this year for me? I still have 14 unused SNA having been turned down for all the prepay stays (which i always try to do). I am surprised no class-action has been brought about already, an amenity has value

  16. I just recently moved my loyalty to Hilton… they offered a Status Matching Program that gave me instant Diamond status. Marriott has diluted the Platinum and Titanium status to the point that the lounges are so crowded and lacking in quality. What Marriott considers upgrades are mearly a better view and often my “Upgrade” is a sub-par room. SNA as worthles… I end every year with at least 8 SNA and I am only successful 1 out of 10 attempts.

  17. If I can only explain how bamboozled by Mariot in the past 6 months , I have been, no one would believe it!
    Just this year alone I stayed at their new JW Marriott in Nashville , had a 350 person wedding for my daughter at their new property in Drake Oak Brook, IL, and stayed 2 weeks at their wood Dale IL stay, and guess what? Did not get my points for one stay. I. Had 30 rooms for out of towners, at the wedding. It’s time to switch. I’ve been their client for over 16 years!! They treat me like road kill. You know when you are appreciated. We own a large corporation , I would fire everyone or anyone who treated our clients Like the customer service I received from Marriott due to these last three trips.

  18. I am an ambassador with over 200 nights and $40k in spend. I couldn’t use mine either and simply requested they extend them from 2019 to 2020. Since I’m also lifetime, that was my last time being Bonvoyed, hello Hyatt 2020

  19. I almost feel like all these comments are paid by the competitor. I’ve used my Suite nights several times now. The last time I was upgraded to a two bedroom at the Sheraton Waikiki over Christmas week. So I’m loving it and until proven otherwise I love my suite nights. Rewards programs are rewards programs. There’s always going to be inflation they’re always going to be changes, it’s just the way it is. But between my 75 to 100 nights per year and all the spend on my credit card I still earn a ton of benefits which for a family of five is well worth it no matter how much they’ve devalued it over the past 20 years. It’s still win for me.
    And I do like the benefits at Hyatt, don’t get me wrong but they just don’t have enough hotels.

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