When Marriott acquired Starwood they also acquired the Ambassador program which offered a single point of contact for the chain’s top customers, to make reservations, interface with hotels on requests, and act as a concierge more broadly. While the quality of individual concierges varied, the best ones developed personal relationships with customers that kept them truly loyal to the brand.
Marriott’s new Bonvoy program required not just 100 nights to get an Ambassador assigned, but also $20,000 in spending. (For 2021 ‘Ambassador status’ requires $14,000.)
Yet in pre-pandemic times Marriott had too many Ambassador members to deliver personalized service with some agents assigned as many as 300 top customers and too much competition for upgrades. Suite upgrade awards don’t clear even for Ambassador members.
Marriott still advertises a “personal point of contact” for Ambassador Elite members, but now they’ve even told Ambassador members to stop e-mailing specific concierges “as personal ambassador email addresses will no longer be monitored.” Instead they’re given a general email box – firstname.lastname@example.org – that can be dealt with by Marriott customer service team members.
At a time when hotels remain far below historical occupancy levels, they need their best customers more than ever. Yet Marriott is reducing its investment in these customers. It’s a good thing they’re basically giving away status this year.
It’s worth noting that Hyatt still offers dedicated concierge agents and requires only 60 nights (with no minimum spend) to have one.