Marriott Wants A Form To Replace Tailored Service For Customers Who Spend $20,000 Or More

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.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. I’ve been an Ambassador with Marriott since SPG, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards were merged in August 2018. My only request is highest floor and 100% feather pillows. 90% to 95% of hotels NEVER bother to give me feather pillows. I even type the 100% feather pillows into the reservation notes on top of whatever Ambassador Services communicates to the property. I’ve had my dietary preferences (no nuts due to an allergy) on the profile forever and nobody ever complies. I can’t tell you how many times I received beer, pork and nuts even though I don’t eat or drink any of them. Only Marriott-managed properties seem to care or notice preferences. Remember, a MAJORITY of all Marriott properties across ALL brands are now managed by the owner/franchisee or a third-party management company.

  2. I was a Marriott Ambassador since the program started at SPG. I’ve stayed close to 2,000 nights between the 2 legacy brands. I loved having my Ambassador and truly found that to be a differentiator for the program (this coming from someone who initially thought this benefit would be worthless). I can’t tell you how many time my Ambassador took care of me when travel went pear shaped or pro-actively set up the room with my wife’s preferences when she knew my wife would join. Truly personalized service. Given they expect you to spend $20K a year (more than even airlines require for top tier), you would expect this level of service would be the least they could do.

    Since that aspect of the program has been gutted, I’ve transitioned to Hyatt and have quite liked the program so far. That’s about $25K a year in revenue they’ve lost to Hyatt.

  3. @FNT Delta Diamond – you act like Marriott is unique in having the vast majority of properties managed by a third party. ALL the major hotel companies essentially are franchises which use the brand marketing, name recognition and frequent stayer program but have the actual properties owned by 3rd parties. The sooner EVERYONE (including Gary) accept that fact and move along the better they will be for their mental health. There is an old adage about “accepting what you can’t change” – IMHO that applies to hotel programs so quit getting so upset when your upgrade request isn’t honored or points devalued and you will be in a better place. Speaking as someone that traveled extensively since the mid 80s and have spent probably spent around 3000 nights in hotels (currently Hilton Diamond, Marriott Lifetime Titanium (not offered anymore for lifetime status) and Hyatt Explorist)).

  4. I didn’t receive this email but it’s also clear I have no intention of re-qualifying for 2023. I’m happier holding globalist & titanium.

  5. I had been a multi-year Ambassador. It became clear that it was all promises not kept. I have chosen a different path regarding hotels. And, I have been an anti-hotel loyalty program evangelist. I have to agree with AC. Any regular reader of the blogs knows the story and has no one to blame other than oneself.

  6. Last year was my first year as an ambassador. Overall I’ve noticed a huge increase in soft accommodations and upgrades with the this elite level, enough so that I’m giving Marriott my additional spend to re-up for 2023. Especially true on out of country properties. Will keep doing so until the better treatment stops.

  7. I think I put effort into the wrong company, loyalty doesnt exist here. Bonvoyed does. Im short Lifetime Platinum by 3 years (should be 1) its basically lifetime useless. I just had a stay in vegas, status was useless. Got a room I had prebooked, no upgrade. Breakfast was super early and I missed it cuz well its vegas. I think hilton or hyatt is the way to go now. I am a idiot (for real) SPG was great, marriott is not even close to SPG. And now they wanna take care of their top spenders.. It only makes sense to go else where. Im not trying to convince anyone of anything, I just wanna say Im a idiot.

  8. Yes just pasted 2000 nights with combined major SPG member for years, struggle with getting anyone to respond to anything, hotels from top to bottom are dirty and falling apart looking to change better rooms at Motel 6. Try to figure out how to burn up my points before I move on.

  9. Im discontent with Bonvoy because i spend tge 20k but only stay a few dozen nights. The wont give me Ambassador.

  10. @Patrick: I think they will not give it to you because you cannot write a grammatically correct sentence.

  11. I received that today as an Ambassador. The only thing it smelled like to me was rather than a personalization area to make my stays better it was a veiled attempt to get detailed info on Ambassador members for marketing purposes. I deleted it.

    Let me tell Marriott this for their marketing: As both an Ambassador and a Globalist maybe take some cues from Hyatt in how to run an elite program. Pretty simple. At that point you can learn my interests, hobbies, food likes, etc.

  12. They’ve lost thr art of hospitality. We would engage with our customers to find out their likes and dislikes and ensure their central profile was updated. Giving a form is so 1990s

  13. Bonvyed yet again. Ambassador status is just another form with preferences to fill out for properties to ignore. Why should customers be loyal to Marriott?

  14. I do have to say. Being ambassador since the program started I actually only miss talking to the agent for special things. The only good ambassador I ever had was Karen Morales. She was my first and she was amazing. After her I went thru a few and honestly they were no good. Nothing at least like Ben used to mention on OMAT. I actually like the email system. They have been quite efficient. And they answer rather fast and with actual solutions. So I don’t mind having to email them. Response time for me has been within the hour.

  15. @AC: Not true. Yes, most major hotels are owned by someone other than the brand. But, companies like Hyatt still manage a majority of their properties. For Marriott, it’s less than 30%.

  16. I think I reached Ambassador Q3 of last year. I’m in no rush to re up for 2023 because I think the program is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. Service is meh here in the US but I will say properties in Europe have been more accommodating (eg room upgrades, gifts, personal letters from the hotel staff).

    There is virtually zero difference between Platinum and Ambassador as far as I’m concerned,.

  17. Maybe they figured out these “Ambassador’s” (sheep?) were going to spend $20,000 and stay 100 nights whether they treated them like gold or like dirt.

    If every Ambassador emailed Marriott that they were leaving when they laid off the Ambassador agents, the company might think twice about it.

    But these sheep, and they are not just at Marriott, just put up with whatever garbage the travel industry doles out without any consequences.

    Also even the travel media, I’m not sure how much these media types hold the VP of loyalty feet to the fire or do they also just take what they say and say its ok and not tell them like it is?

  18. @747always and RF. If the information requested was genuinly being asked so as to be able to tailor your stays and Ambassador amenities etc I would gladly provide. But after reading over it yesterday it was clearly nothing more than wanting more personal information on you so as to glean marketing data on Ambassadors. It was so pathetic as to how obvious it was. And trying to mask it in a way that proclaims it to be a way Marriott can serve you better was laughable.

  19. @ Stuart it makes sense for Marriott to ask for more marketing information from their ambassadors. The number of advert and data mining domains all hotel websites connect to (and their captive portals signing into hotel Wi-Fi) is egregious.
    But if you have an active google and facebook account, it’s safe to say the advert industry remembers more about your preferences than it’s possible for you to remember.

  20. @Nico. That’s fine. But don’t hide behind the idea that it is somehow going to make my Marriott stays customized and wonderfully unique to me. Just say, “We want to send you better targeted emails to get you to buy more stuff from us.” In the meantime, they can work to be better at actually providing any sort of upgraded service for Ambassadors.

  21. Who said it will have any benefit towards you, me, or any other ambassador?
    Looking at their current stock price there’s little chance the CEO will change course towards valuing guests vs franchisees. Which is why I’ve only spent 2K with Marriott so far this year.

  22. Seems like every Marriott article is always about them cutting back on services or other benefits. What’s sad is Marriott got their hands on the best loyalty program with the SPG acquisition and they immediately dismantled it. So glad I got grandfathered into LT Titanium so I no longer have to chase nights with this company that no longer cares about their customers….

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