The Ups and Downs of Marriott’s Elite Ambassador Program: A Tale of Service, Layoffs, and Revival

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 $23,000 in spend, nearly impossible to achieve in many parts of the world with low hotel rates.

Yet for three years the Ambassador level didn’t even come with Ambassador service. Marriott eliminated dedicated Ambassadors during the pandemic, even while Hyatt (which offers concierges at just 60 nights without minimum spend) kept theirs. The service that Marriott’s top elites received was gutted. Finally this summer, Marriott brought back Ambassadors for Ambassador elites.

Marriott Senior Vice President David Flueck told me in fall 2021 that they’d be “investing in the Ambassador program specifically going into 2022″ but it took to June 2023 to restore the benefit.

Five months into the restoration of Ambassador service, Marriott is surveying its top members to see how it’s doing.

In my experience, as a previous Starwood Ambassador member, my contact would recommend room rates for me that I might not have thought to check myself – for instance using the SPG50 rate to book a suite for not much more than a regular room, rather than requesting a suite (which would likely have confirmed) because that would have meant re-requesting “Your24” 24 hour check-in benefits once the assigned room had changed and I wanted both. They sent me occasional gifts to the room as well.

The quality of individual Ambassadors always varied, and whether a given guest ‘clicked’ with their assigned Ambassador mattered too. So how useful this service is will be different for different members. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Marriott re-invest in members who are already investing the most in them.

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. As they say, your mileage may vary.
    I’m life Titanium. Approaching 4K nights and still doing ~125/year.

    When you have to use govt rates or contract rates, you will never hit $23K. I’ll hit 15 or so this year and that was due to several weeks of high room rates.

    I glad some folks hit that target, but Ambassador is most useful at high end properties.

    I see really good support and really bad support on the forums.

    For my travel, it wouldn’t be a benefit. I was in Marriotts invite Premier Elite group for a few years way before the merger.

  2. Gary my experience with the Ambassador program sucks. My spend is going to be $45K this year, 200+ nights. This is the 2nd year of being an Ambassador. I am a lifetime Plat.

    And my Ambassador person is about as helpful as an ashtray on a motorcycle. In 2024, I’m heading off to be a free agent and will simply stay at the hotels that treat their guests as guests. I cant wait to complete that survey!

  3. Marriott did me the biggest favor several years ago . I was exceeding the Ambassador spend total but nowhere near the nights required . Actually I was hitting the spend on less than 50 nights . I pointed out that Bonvoy was the only major hotel program where spend alone is not considered as a factor for advancing tiers . They told me to pound sand . Since then , I have greatly enjoyed the Hyatt program and they treat me wonderfully. Also a big fan of the top tier Accor properties such as Fairmont and Raffles.

  4. I was ambassador for 2 years under SPG, which was ok and 2 under marrriott which was crap.

    Despite lifetime plat status, I actively avoid Marriott.

    My Hyatt experience has been excellent. They treat me so well and I don’t need a $))&$!! Flowchart to figure out what breakfast I get.

  5. I think I could count on one hand the number of times I actually found ambassador or any status with Marriott useful. Utterly useless program. Very very few upgrades and always a dirty look when I used your 24.

  6. I have been ambassador status before pandemic and also now. It is worthless. I haven’t received survey yet but won’t give good reviews. Get a suite upgrade is not common and breakfast if you get it is a joke at most properties. I am going to look to Hyatt as others seem to have good things to say about that program.

  7. As a mere Hilton Gold, the check-in experience at actual Hilton hotels is light-years ahead of any Marriott brand in terms of overall experience. I’ve been upgraded to the executive floor more times staying fewer times at the Hilton as a Gold than I’ve received preferred room upgrades as a Titanium at any Marriott property during 3-times the number of stays. But it’s not the upgrades. It’s the overall check-in process and the demeanor of Marriott’s employees at check-in: they suck. And it’s not always their fault – they aren’t given the latitude to surprise and delight. Marriott is relying on its size and locations to get away with continued patronage while providing increasingly poor service and experience. The company might be making money, but it absolutely tanked in providing a positive experience in 2023. Marriott has totally potato’ed.

  8. I keep thinking of the guy in charge of United’s loyalty program when asked what other loyalty program he admires most his answer was Marriott Bonvoy.

  9. Hard to believe that Marriott would lay off Ambassador agents. The cost of the agents has got to be minimal compared to the loss of premium customers. And when you lose a premium customer, they do not come back that fast. Illustrates “Pennywise but Pound foolish.”

    I could have achieved ambassador level this year at Marriott but never saw a reason to do so. I chose instead to give my stays and spend to Hyatt. Very pleased with Hyatt. Of course, many more Marriotts, so I spent a lot of time at Marriott as well, but being a Lifetime Plat and usually having Titanium status every year has no advantage that I can see. Also a Hilton Diamond, so will stay there before a Marriott if more convenient.

  10. I’m usually 110-120 night per year with Marriott. Yes they have their shortcomings, and yes I will continue to put up with them. My stays with Marriott aren’t bad, there’s just nothing special about them either.

    As a Hyatt Globalist I do recognize the difference in how I’m treated in the sense of loyalty. However, and like has been repeated many times over, Hyatt’s footprint is too small unless you really enjoy Hyatt Place. A good amount of the Hyatt Places are just old, really old.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Hyatt Place’s as if they’re in line with an Econo Lodge, they are what they are, but I’ll take a Courtyard any day of the week over Hyatt Place. Neither of them can offer much in terms of elite benefits based on their specific brand, and Courtyards just tend to be better.

  11. Before the stay I always write my ambassador and tell him to get me an upgrade and Yours24. It always works but I never travel to the US. Asia, Middle East and Europe. Yours24 is the best perk yet the ambassador and the hotel are always shaking when they hear it. It’s a shame! How many ambassadors are there and how many are using the perk? If it’s that crazy expensive then don’t offer it. The revenue will be appreciated at your competitors chain.
    The biggest offence of Marriott Bonvoy ambassador is 75% rather than 100% points bonus.

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