Marriott just announced its 2021 award category changes for hotels, with some properties going up in category and others going down.
In total just 201 hotels are changing this year, with 150 dropping in category (and so costing fewer points) and 51 going up in category (so they’ll cost more points). In contrast last year nearly 30% of hotels changed category.
These changes go into effect March 3, allowing you to book the hotels going up in category now to lock in lower pricing and so you know when to try to reprice redemptions at hotels becoming less expensive.
Marriott offers that they’re changing rates on many new hotels where they have real world data now, often reducing category and most changes are in Asia.
First Time In A Decade More Hotels Have Gone Down Than Up
I’ve been tracking this since 2012 and in every single year more hotels have gone up in category (and thus in redemption price) than have gone down.
- Substantially more hotels became more expensive in points than less expensive in 2012.
- Then in 2013 they increased the price of 36% of hotels and dropped only 1% while introducing a new more expensive award tier.
- 2014 saw a 4:1 ratio of increases to decreases in points prices for hotel redemptions.
- 2015 was 3:1 increase.
- In 2016 ‘only’ 560 hotels went up in points prices while 237 went down.
- In 2017, with Starwood merger news fresh, they only increased 1.5 times as many hotels as they reduced.
- In 2018 they increased points prices at over 1000 hotels with 21% of hotels getting more expensive and 5% getting less expensive.
- In 2019 increases outnumbered decreases 9-to-1 as 8% of hotels changed category
- At the start of 2020 nearly 22% of hotels went up in category while 7% went down
Having more decreases than increases is fairly unprecedented, but having just 201 hotels change pricing is also less movement than we’ve seen in the past.
Analysis Of Changes
The changes take place across Marriott’s brands, though about 20% are with Fairfields (43), 10% Four Points (20) and 10% Marriott (19) followed by Courtyard (17), Moxy (13), and Sheraton (13). Only 2 W hotels, 2 Luxury Collection, and 1 Ritz-Carlton are changing category.
No hotel is changing more than one category. The only hotel going up to category 8 is the W Aspen. Las Alcobas in Mexico City, which I’ve much enjoyed, goes up to category 7.
Las Alcobas, Mexico City
Other notable increases: the Westin Tampa goes up to 5; the JW Marriott Gold Coast (Australia) goes up to 6; Marriott Puerto Vallarta goes up to 6; Sheraton Kauai goes up to 6.
Nearly All Marriott Hotels Should Be Dropping In Category, But Aren’t
Any time Marriott doesn’t devalue its program that’s a good thing. Annual category creep has worked against you for many years, not just under Bonvoy but years earlier too. However as a result of the pandemic and how long it’s lasted we should see a majority of hotels dropping in category.
Marriott has around 7500 hotels in its portfolio. Only about 100 hotels are dropping in category – after the biggest drop in average daily room rate we’ve seen in history. Rooms cost less and Marriott’s revenue-based program should charge you fewer points. They shouldn’t just be offering ‘low season’ rates as a promotion, they should be offering those year round. And the base category of most hotels should be lower than when the hotel business was at its peak in 2019.