Marriott has the most exclusive top elite tier with published earning criteria. The Ambassador level requires not just 100 nights in hotels but also a minimum of $20,000 in spend, nearly impossible to achieve in many parts of the world.
Yet Marriott has also gutted the Ambassador experience over the past couple of years. A carry-over from Starwood, members used to have an agent specifically assigned to them to take care of all of their stay needs, including making requests and customizing things with hotels and assisting with any arrangements. The promise was that this person “gets to know you over time” and “provide the personal touches that make each trip special.”
However, despite adding the minimum spend requirement (which Starwood didn’t have) on top of staying 100 nights, Marriott has stopped providing an actual Ambassador to Ambassador members.
During the pandemic, Marriott performed mass layoffs of the representatives who took care of their best customers. Ambassador members no longer get a personal point of contact and can no longer reach out to an individual agent directly as those “addresses are no longer monitored.”
When I spoke to Marriott Senior Vice President David Flueck about the program in the fall he promised that Bonvoy “will be “investing in the Ambassador program specifically going into 2022, to improve the overall experience of our best members.”
Here’s one of those efforts, it seems. Marriott sent out an email to Ambassador members asking them to fill out a form with their preferences. You used to share what you liked and needed, and what you didn’t like, with a single person who got to know you. Marriott already had this information for its existing Ambassadors. Now they want Ambassador members to provide it again in a survey.
There are a few hotels that look at preferences and requests in advance sometimes, but it’s the rare outlier case that this happens. And preferences will never be fully captured in the form the way they can be with an individual who gets to know you better and better over time and proactively communicates specifics to a hotel. Even there consistent delivery relies on the property, but it has a much higher likelihood of success.
Maybe if Marriott isn’t going to provide members with a dedicated Ambassador, they shouldn’t call the elite tier Ambassador? Hyatt, by the way, offers an assigned concierge at 60 elite nights and without a minimum spend requirement – although it too has room for improvement.