Before the pandemic there was no greater loyalty program with a gap between what it promised and what it delivered than Marriott Bonvoy. On paper it took the best features of Starwood Preferred Guest with the scale of properties of Marriott and merged them together. And yet – even ignoring all of the IT and customers service problems that persisted for months after the rollout – the program has simply failed to deliver elite benefits consistently at the property level.
The irony of course is that before acquiring Starwood, Marriott Rewards wasn’t very generous with elites but they were consistent. The Marriott brand across the board was consistency. Now they’re the Forrest Gump of loyalty: you never know what you’re going to get until check-in. This has only gotten worse.
- Marriott appears to be clearing fewer upgrade requests during the pandemic and they even admit their rate hasn’t gone up even with hotels empty as a result of Covid-19.
- Marriott has suspended its elite benefits guarantee due to the pandemic, hotels don’t have to compensate you if they don’t provide the ‘guaranteed’ elite welcome amenity. @Kalbozey points out that Marriott still advertises the cash compensation on its website. They don’t tell members their guarantee benefits are suspended.
- Marriott hotels are ignoring elite benefits left and right. For instance the Marriott Key West hasn’t been offering breakfast to Platinum members. An Ambassador member first flagged to me that the hotel would sell them breakfast but wouldn’t provide it complimentary and then I received a note from a Platinum as well. They have both an indoor and an outdoor restaurant open for dining.
I called the hotel myself and asked and was told they weren’t honoring elite breakfast, despite having their outdoor restaurant open at 100% capacity. I asked Marriott Bonvoy for an explanation but after several exchanges haven’t gotten a response in a month.
- They pitched keyless room entry as a contactless, safe way to stay during Covid-19 while delaying the requirement for owners to make this investment.
Several times Marriott has changed program terms without notice. they’ve devalued points, and laid off the staff who take care of their best customers.
Like Vince Offer pitching the slap chop their view seems to be that they can chop, chop, chop elite member experience to a better life.
This strikes me as inadvisable when they need to convince their best customers to come back and fill rooms more than ever. However it’s fair enough as a business strategy if that’s what they’ve chosen to pursue – if they’d be straightforward about what guests can expect. It’s the disconnect between promises and product delivery that’s become a Marriott hallmark the past three years.