Marriott Makes It Easier To Gift Reward Nights To Friends And Family

In recent years Marriott has made it very difficult to book free night awards at their hotels for someone else that’s traveling. For instance I’ve often wanted to redeem my points for my wife’s travel when I won’t be there.

  • They don’t let you do this on their website.
  • They stopped letting you make a reservation for yourself online, and then change the name afterwards (either via twitter or calling reservations)
  • You had to call and set it up as an award for someone else by phone. Once a reservation was made this way, the name couldn’t be changed.
  • Yet agents would often do this incorrectly – even after long hold times to verify that they were doing it correctly. You’d get the reservation, it would be in your own name and not booked for the person you were trying to give it to.

Marriott made it harder and harder to use your points. Some readers thought they just wanted to make it difficult to use your points so that you wouldn’t but that isn’t actually true. The people at Marriott worried about fraud (especially after major data breaches at the chain) gained the upper hand over anyone that cared about the loyalty of their best customers trying to use their points.

The last thing I ever want when redeeming points for my wife’s travel, though, is worrying over whether or not she’ll be able to check in!

In order to get around this problem you almost always had to use guerrilla methods to gift reward nights with Marriott. Just book the award for yourself, and an agent might even suggest adding the real guest as a second person on the reservation. Or you’d book the reservation yourself and contact the hotel directly to update the booking.

Either way you’d actually come out ahead most of the time,

  • The person staying in the room would benefit from your elite status usually (upgrades, breakfast etc) if applicable
  • And you’d earn elite night credit for their stay.

Marriott has made two updates that make booking reward night travel much easier using your points.

  1. You can transfer points to someone else’s account online now, though there are transfer limits. That way they can book their own stay, in their own name, online.

  2. They now let you make an award using your points in your own name online and call later to change the name through a terms and conditions update. (HT: Loyalty Lobby)

    When booking a Gifted Award Redemption Stay reservation, a Member must provide to Member Support their Membership Number and name, as well as the name of the person who will be staying at the Participating Property (the recipient). Both names and the Member’s Membership Number must be provided to Member Support at time of booking the Gifted Award Redemption Stay. If a Member makes an Award Redemption Stay reservation first, they must contact Member Support to then add the recipient’s name. They cannot contact the Participating Property to add the recipient name.

You won’t receive elite credit, and neither will they. And they won’t receive the benefits of your status. But you’ll get the reservation in the right person’s name… instead of jumping through hoops to try the book the room in the right name the first time, find out it was done incorrectly, and that there are no more reward nights available (or that in Marriott’s dynamic redemptions, that the price has gone up) making it impractical to start over.

This signifies that Marriott really understood the hoops they were making members jump through over the past couple of years were unreasonable, and harmed loyalty, and that the loyalty folks finally won out over the security team whose policies maximized security (preventing losses to the company) at the expense of member experience and therefore long-term revenue. Or they just tired of spending money on elite benefits that they didn’t need to.

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. Yes I have made multiple calls to Marriott for this in the past, and the new transfer should take care of that, although it did take over 2 hours for the points to transfer. I guess it’s Marriott IT but within the same company that is kind of nuts.

  2. This post reminded me I needed to add a person’s name to a reservation for later this week. I used to be able to add a name and check In remotely. Today, they changed the reservation to a guest reservation, similar to what Hyatt does. Frankly, I like the way Hilton does it allowing me to add the name to the reservation when creating it. The bottom line it was easy, I used points and won’t get the night stay but I don’t need it.

  3. What about the other way around; will I get status benefits based on my status if I’m the recipient?

    Does it work on CSR edit card award nights?

    Thanks !

  4. The argument here is that if they had good IT systems and MFA, etc. in place why would it matter who you book the room for when logged into your own account?

  5. All Marriott really needed to do was add an additional guests option to the booking system and let you add the name there. Hilton does it and so does Holiday Inn. But of course Marriott has to make things hard. It’s ridiculous how high strung this brand is now.

  6. Marriott does not allow you to use the annual free night award certificates from credit cards for anyone else at all. You have to check in yourself. I hope I am wrong about this, but when someone tried to book one for me to use, it was no go.

  7. I’m constantly confused by a program that I have been committed to for over a decade. I have Lifetime Titanium status. My wife has no status. If she earns free nights through her credit card(s), can she gift these nights to me to leverage my status?

  8. @Tonya Powell Oddly enough Marriott Vacation Club does work as you describe. You book it under your name and add guests at that time. Anyone on the reservation can check-in. Stay credit goes to the booking account.

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