No Leeway: Marriott Member Misses Ambassador Status By $8, “I Should’ve Had A Drink At The Bar”

A Marriott Bonvoy member reports that they had 102 nights and $13,992 spent with Marriott during 2021. Top tier Ambassador status required at least 100 nights and $14,000 in spend. They add that they should have gotten a drink at the bar on their last stay, but didn’t realize they’d need it. And they’d happily send Marriott the $8.

Based on what I’ve seen it’s almost 100% certain that a member spending over $13,990 also spent $8 or more at a property during the year that did not post correctly. And if they want the status they likely earned that’s exactly what they’ll need to do.

Or, perhaps, reach out to a friendly hotel and say that on one of their past stays they accidentally took some towels or a bathrobe and could they revise the original folio accordingly?

Because Marriott shares there’s no leeway – not even $8 – in meeting their Ambassador status requirement,

Recognizing the ongoing impact of the pandemic in 2021, we deposited 50% of the Elite Night Credits (ENCs) into members’ accounts based on their 2020 Elite status tier. In addition, we reduced the spend threshold required to achieve Ambassador Elite status by $6,000 to $14,000. For 2022, members will enjoy the Elite status in accordance with ENCs achieved in 2021 as well as the reduced spend threshold for those qualifying for Ambassador Elite status.

Marriott frames the 2021 requirement to spend $14,000 for Ambassador status as already being an accommodation. That doesn’t seem correct to me: it was the published spend requirement for the year. The question isn’t did the member miss earning Ambassador by $6008, it’s $8 off of the published requirement for the year.

That’s lower than in 2019, to be sure, based on circumstances on the ground. And benefits were more limited, too!

During the pandemic, Marriott performed mass layoffs of the representatives who took care of their best customers. And while Marriott still advertises “Your personal point of contact is always at your service for every stay” Ambassador members no longer get a personal point of contact and can no longer reach out to an individual agent directly as those “addresses will no longer be monitored.”

Some programs treat their thresholds as absolute (a 1 mile or 1 dollar miss is a miss). Other programs treat those who are really really close as having made it. For Marriott Ambassador status it appears to be the former.

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. Thresholds exist for a reason. The reality is someone not even spending $14,000 is a worthwhile customer for Marriott. I spent $40,000 in 2021 and $37,000 in 2020 and Marriott can’t even get hotels to provide me the breakfast benefit.

  2. The member had 102 opportunities to spend 8 more dollars. And it is a published guidelines, so no excuses for the person claiming that they did not know how much they need to spend to reach the next level.

    Why not work with the last property where they stayed to charge 2 bottles of water to the folio and have them repost the stay.

  3. He should just call the last property he stayed at and say they forgot to charge him $8 for something from the minibar. I’m sure they’d be happy to oblige.

  4. Only a communist would want an individual to get top tier status without spending the $8 extra. Marriott and the hotel owners need that more than he does.

  5. Bonvoyed. Since Marriott screwed a valued customer for eight dollars, imaging the incentive for Marriott hotels to screw $39,992 customers for eight dollars. Perhaps Marriott can increase their resort or destination fee to all Hammond, Indiana properties because they are located just seven miles from the smelly air quality in Gary, Indiana. Hello Bonvoy.

  6. The guest has the right to be f’n PISSED but it’s going to be an emotional reaction only. In the sense that viscerally on a primate’s level I can totally sympathize. Rationally unfortunately Marriott makes a good point, I guess pigs are flying right now, but #1 the thresholds are published from the get go and you can track your progress throughout the year, and #2 the thresholds were already lowered. I don’t understand Gary’s claim that publishing the lower thresholds means they weren’t actually lowered as an accommodation…?

    If I was the guest. Marriott has no obligation to be flexible on the thresholds. I have no obligation to continue to stay with Marriott. I’d spend down all my points and then close my account. I’d also badmouth Marriott to all my friends and colleagues because that’s my right.

    The macro lesson learned here is that Marriott doesn’t feel that generosity toward customers is important anymore. It could be a smart business decision for them. But it’s a lesson for those of us who prefer to do business with generous companies.

  7. Wow, impressively Bonvoyed. It’s so sad that Marriott has made it their culture to see the engaged customer as some adversary to be defeated rather than a loyal friend to be welcomed. Still, I suppose that since this painfully clearly illustrates Marriott’s contempt for the customer perhaps more people will come to their senses and move away from Marriott.

  8. How sad that a major hospitality company is so short-sighted. Just plain stupid. I’m top tier at Hilton and I don’t think they’d do this. However, I did learn years ago to not cut things so close … if the requirement is 100 nites, I stay 105. If the spending threshold is $5K, I spend $5300. Mostly because I just don’t want to deal with customer service on the phone … much easier to just go a little overboard and be assured things will go well.

  9. I spent $13875/15k on my Citi card and spent $1891/2000 on flying missing both of my aa promotions to retain platinum. The former was so painful as there is a big lag on the credit card reporting at Citi.

    Should I beg for leniency?

  10. The threshold was clearly posted. The member missed it. I would recommend auditing your spends for the year and hopefully for members sake he finds an unposted 10 bucks. I always make sure spend promotions that have meaningful benefits are exceeded by enough to guarantee achieving the goal

  11. Look over your bills for year. Guaranteed there is money not credited. I’ve found hundreds and I only had half the spend. Hotels fail to post incidentals all the time


  12. Marriott doesn’t care about the paying guests. They care about their true customers the hotel
    Owners. The sooner people realise that and get off the treadmill of elite status, the sooner will Marriott change

  13. So where should the line be then? $8 under? $9 under? $10 under? $20 under? $50 under?

    No matter where you draw this new line there’s bound to be somebody else $8 under that.

  14. LMAO at these comments. I swear to be a commenter on garys blog the main requirement is to absolutely despise your fellow man.

  15. I agree with some of the other comments this was a silly article. If this guy was that concerned about his elite status was he was that cheap tgat he could spend $10 more. Let’s have more substantive articles that benefit everyone.

  16. This happened to myself and my husband at the end of this past year.. We did spend enough money and had enough nights but then Marriott said some of our money didn’t count because we paid for one night in points and one night in cash during our final hotel stay at the end of December, which we planned as the stay to get the spend to tip from Titanium to Ambassador They tried to make the case that the cash didn’t count even though it was real cash and we really did pay it on our credit card to a Marriott hotel. If we had booked two nights under two separate reservations, one with points and one with cash it would have counted, they said, but not on the same reservation. There is nothing that specifically says this in all the Marriott fine print. Believe me we read it many times. Instead between my husband and myself we spent about 7 hours on the phone with Marriott and in the end it was resolved. 7 hours total talking to customer service, round and round in circles. Marriott’s customer care and appreciation has gone seriously downhill during all the years we have been members.

  17. Can’t believe you would even publish something so lame. Makes me lose respect for your forum. A rule is a rule and I expected company to enforce the rule. If they say $8 is close enough, someone will say they only missed it by $16.
    Hope you’re write about more important things in the future.

  18. Yeah well how is this bs – I DID hit the threshold for both dollars and nights. My last night was on Dec 30. It was night 104. I had $13,909 before the last stay and booked a room at $124. I got the threshold both ways and definitely qualified. That night has gone POOF. I paid for it. And yet, Marriott isn’t registering it. I’ve called to open a case and RADIO silence. I’ve called the Titanium number and frankly have gotten the worst customer service ever (yes from Titanium – wow I still miss SPG) and NO response still on making it right from Marriott. So they are also actively trying to screw people out of Ambassador who really did qualify.

  19. This is not a trivial issue. It illustrates corporate Marriott philosophy. Stuff goes wrong all the time in travel. The companies that rise to the top are the ones that make it right no matter who was at fault. This person spent a significant part of 2021 at marriott properties. I spoke to a liaison at Marriott corporate consumer affairs yesterday who spoke with glee about this episode. I had called because a residence inn did not have key cards for three days and i thought it was a security lapse. The liaison gave it to the general manager to rectify confirming that the franchisee is their real customer.

  20. I could have easily made ambassador with Marriott but stopped at Titanium and instead locked in top status with Hilton and Hyatt. Marriott doesn’t deserve my loyalty and is going to have to work for it if they want us to be monogamous. Fortunately, my employer feels the same way and this was the first year we were not restricted by brand.

    I imagine it will take a few years, but at some point Marriott will realize they squandered an opportunity to lock in loyalty. Right now they are nothing but a booking agent for thousands of independent hotels that loosely follow the booking agent’s lead.

  21. Marriott screwed us over at the last minute on a vacation reRental through their homes and Villas vacation rentals program, and at the last minute I mean within 36 hours of our scheduled stay they offered no alternatives. When we reached out to them for some sort of compensation or something to ease the pain they did absolutely nothing I would stay as many million miles away from Marriott as it possibly could I am looking into other options and burned a bunch of points already on other things

  22. I made Ambassador status in July 2021. The BonVoy app clearly tracks a member’s spend, number of nights, points, what is needed for next tier, etc. Although Marriott has issues at times, this isn’t one of them.

  23. Uh, no they don’t. They didn’t track mine correctly. And there are countless examples of them not tracking correctly.

  24. Before it became Bonvoy, I missed Lifetime Platinum status by being short 50,000 points. They didn’t care that I had nearly 2700 nights over my ten year membership and had been Platinum every year. I was short the points and there was no wiggle room. So I was Lifetime Gold….until the Bonvoy change and I was bumped to Lifetime Titanium status based on my years of Platinum status. Rules are rules I guess, even for us who show them an exceedingly high amount of loyalty. It doesn’t go both ways. Maybe it’s time to start racking up Hilton status as I can’t get much more from Marriott.

  25. It’s not Marriott, I am $3 MQD short for 2022 Medallion status with Delta and am still waiting for answer from them. As with the Marriott case my last flight was Dec 27th, and there was no clear calculator to tell me in advance I was $3 short, had a 2-+ year streak as a Medallion member. So the question is the same as with Marriott – do they truly value their most loyal customers or is it just lip service?

    Back in the NWA days I had a similar situation where a 4th quarter trip to Japan had to be cancelled and that left me about 2,000 miles short of the next level., I had to rebook for the 2nd week of January (new year / new budget). What I received was a very nice letter from NWA saying they saw I had to push the trip out, and since they valued my business they pushed to that level I would have achieved. Cost to them – $0, value to me – a whole lot.

  26. He’s screwed. They won’t budge. Marriott has gone hill since the days of the merger with SPG. The last. Ow deceased CEO Arnie started ruining the program and the new dipsheet in charge now is even worse. Marriootfsmily needs to fire him and take the company back over. Bill Marriott never intended the program to be run like this.

  27. Once I missed the Ambassador status by $35 due to FX mixup and wrong attribution of nights and points. Learned my lesson.

  28. I’m an employee with the brand. General management is cutting staff big time right now again. Our occupancy is low, and things like this are the reason. I promise you the staff love working with guests. The building is dead without guests

  29. I have been a Ambassador Elite these past 4 years and have met all requirements, especially during tge pandemic.
    NO PROVISIONS should be given to anyone. If he cannot keep track of his status and $8 then the problem lies upon himself.
    Ambassador Elite is earned. Not given away freely.

  30. I have been a Marriott’ employee for most of my life, I am now retired, have over 20 years with Marriott Vacation Club. My husband is Titanium with the hotel side of the company. We are Chairmans Club with the vacation side of the company. I’ve been to Bill Marriott’s house in Potomac Maryland many times and this is not how he envisioned or would like the company to be run. So sad!

  31. I have been a Marriott’ employee for most of my life, I am now retired, have over 20 years with Marriott Vacation Club. My husband is Titanium with the hotel side of the company. We are Chairmans Club with the vacation side of the company. I’ve been to Bill Marriott’s house in Potomac Maryland many times and this is not how he envisioned or would like the company to be run. So sad! Hope things will get better soon.

  32. Marriott corporate could care less if they screw a high $ customer over a lousy 8 bucks. Ever since the Starwood merger, their elite benefits and service have gone in the toilet and they don’t seem to care. I’m LT Titanium (and former SPG LT Platinum, which was an amazing program) and I no longer go out of my way to stay at Marriott, been Bonvoyed one too many times…

  33. I use to work for a Marriott. I was let go early (I had put in my two weeks), because I stood up for a pregnant coworker. She was 20 years old, 37 weeks pregnant, having stomach pains at work, and the manager wouldn’t let her leave until someone came in early to relieve her! Disgusting, absolutely disgusting! I was treated like crap for going to HR and others about this too

  34. Please, PLEASE, people do not give Marriott your money. They have, in the past, risked an employee’s unborn child, overcharged a very famous band because they have the money, and could care less about any of you or their employees

  35. Linda, please read my previous comments. Maybe you, since HR, district manager, and others told me I was dumb for bringing to their attention that a twenty year kid, who was 37 weeks pregnant having stomach pains, not being able to leave work to go to ER was and is WRONG

  36. I reached Ambassador nights and spend requirements by booking a room the last few days of the year – I figured they wouldn’t give any leeway. The spend didn’t process for a few days after the New Year. After escalating, they acknowledge I met the requirements now but can’t update my status until March because their systems are backed up. I’m speechless!!! Don’t know where to turn to be honest.

  37. I was Bonvoyed as well. I am a lifetime Platinum but should be lifetime Titanium as I reached they 10-year mark the year that the SPG and Marriott programs were merged. Like KF, I booked a room for the last two nights of the year to ensure that I made Platinum for that 10-year. Marriott denies that I achieved my 10th year and I’ve written and called in multiple times, always with the same answer that I didn’t make it. I’m now on my 12th year as a Platinum. After going for it all these years, I no longer go out of my way to stay at Marriott or previous Starwood properties.

  38. You are not missing anything. Ambassador is a worthless program.
    Emails to team Ambassador is a general res desk who provide nonsense, no help replies. Have not received help on any simple requests ranging from suite night upgrade, room type change, late checkout help, contacting a hotel etc. All BS.

  39. If I were a Marriott executive, it is these kind of online forums that would think about when considering to make any kind of accomodation to bend the rules. As soon as it gets out that someone got even an $8 break on their threshold requirement, everyone who was $50 away would demand with a sense of entitlement would be furious, and so on and so on. And then all those accomodations would dilute the value of the benefits to all the people who actually did meet the threshold. Then they’d have a PR nightmare and no one would be happy.
    People just need to take some personal responsiblity to keep track of their spending and if they want to make the next tier, make sure do the activity to earn it.

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