Marriott is making it easier to qualifying for a higher level of status this year – and a side effect is all current elites get free credit towards lifetime status, and many may receive additional ‘choice’ benefits without even staying at any hotels.
The Bonvoy program is also putting award nights on sale for stays through July, by letting you book rooms at off-peak redemption prices this month.
Redeem Most Hotels Right Now For Off-Peak Prices
When I wrote about the one man living in the deserted W Barcelona to keep the hotel running, I pointed out that they were planning to re-open and Marriott wanted either standard category 8 (85,000) or peak (100,000) points per night. Despite the worst times in history for hotels worldwide due to the global pandemic, there wasn’t a single off peak night available.
Back in the fall Marriott devalued their program by introducing ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ award pricing. When rooms are expensive and you’d normally get more value out of points, they charge you more points. When rooms are cheap and you don’t want to stay somewhere, those rooms are available for fewer points. It’s all about managing Bonvoy’s costs reimbursing hotels because when a hotel is near capacity the program has to spend more for the free night award.
With most hotels that is… not going to be an issue, although U.S. hotel occupancy has been steadily creeping up towards 40%.
For a two week period, though, Marriott is going to offer the deal that they ought to be offering all the time throughout the rest of this crisis and recession in travel: about 5500 hotels will offer only off-peak redemption prices if you book by June 30 for stays through July 31. (Marriott was unable to tell me the denominator, how many hotels are open globally.) Off-peak only hotels include places like:
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort; Bora Bora; Hong Kong; Venice; Maldives
- The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel; Half Moon Bay; Kyoto; Tokyo; Dubai
- Scrub Island
- W Koh Samui
Marriott offers that if you see “hotels in a market are offering a mix of standard and off-peak rates, for example, members should search another market rather than searching hotel by hotel in the same market if they prefer to book only off-peak rates.”
A spokesperson further explains,
If a market is entirely in off-peak, then all hotels in that market are deemed “participating.” The algorithm decides. It is worth explaining a market using the New York Metro area as an example. New York City is divided into submarkets. Each of those submarkets are entirely in off-peak. Therefore, all open hotels in New York City are “participating.” However, there are suburban New York markets where that may not be the case because there is more demand and they are not participating.
Elites Members Receiving Free Qualfiying Nights
Marriott already extended everyone’s status so no one with current elite status needs to re-qualify this year. However anyone looking to reach a higher status has a big head start. In late July Marriott will deposit 50% of the elite nights for the status level earned last year.
|ELITE STATUS EARNED IN 2019||NORMAL REQUIREMENTS||50% ELITE NIGHT CREDITS DEPOSIT|
|Ambassador||100 Qualifying Nights and $20k stay spend||50 Elite Nights|
|Titanium||75 Qualifying Nights||38 Elite Nights|
|Platinum||50 Qualifying Nights||25 Elite Nights|
|Gold||25 Qualifying Nights||13 Elite Nights|
|Silver||10 Qualifying Nights||5 Elite Nights|
|Member||Not Applicable||Not Applicable|
This is on top of the elite credits you receive from Marriott credit cards. In late March Marriott started allowing you to earn 15 elite nights from both their business Amex and from personal cards rather than capping you at 15 total elite nights each year.
What’s more these bonus elite nights count towards lifetime status. For instance, lifetime Platinum is earned after 10 years of Platinum or higher and 600 lifetime nights (including credit card-earned nights).
As a Platinum, then, I receive 30 credit card elite nights and will receive these 25 more elite nights – a total of 55 elite nights without a stay. That earns a Choice Benefit (for crossing 50 nights) too. My Platinum status is already secure for 2021, but just 20 nights (and I already have a few) gets me Titanium. And if my choice benefit is 5 elite nights, I only need 15 actual nights in hotels for Titanium.
Unfortunately they aren’t giving any break on the $20,000 spend requirement. Odd after laying off Ambassador agents they still expect as much spend from you but don’t deliver the promised personalized service.
Ambassador Members Can Nominate A Platinum At 100 Nights
Ambassador members who earned their status in 2019 and reach 100 elite nights this year can gift one Platinum status. And for some Ambassador members that just means staying 20 ‘real’ nights (50 nights gifted with this offer plus 15 each from the small business and personal credit cards). This offer will be extended by email upon hitting 100 nights this year.