Marriott used to have an overly generous ‘points advance’ feature that let members lock in as many potential award reservations as they wished, and lock in pricing as of he time those reservations were made. This was useful before Marriott category changes.
Back then award prices changed at most once per year. Then when Marriott imposed peak and off-peak pricing, hotel award rates began changing monthly even when hotels didn’t change category. Starting March 29 when Marriott eliminates award charts redemption prices will change more frequently still
Points Advance changed last spring,
- You could only hold an award for a maximum of 60 days, and had to have points in your account 14 days prior to check-in at the latest as well.
- Holding an award kept the award space available for you but did not lock in the price.
It’s this last piece that a member says they didn’t know, and cost them their Hawaii vacation – even though they easily had the points available had Marriott told them what they needed to do to keep their booking. Their account was short just 6000 points when their reservation for 5 nights in Hawaii was cancelled.
A reader made a points advance reservation at the Sheraton Kauai 34 days prior to check-in. They were quoted 200,000 points for a 5 night stay. They transferred points into their account, and more points were earned so that there were a total of 234,000 in their account. They were confident everything was in place.
However 11 days prior to check-in they receive a notice that their booking would be cancelled if they didn’t move more points into the account.
We are reaching out to you regarding your Marriott reservation (conf#XXXXXXXXX), arrival date (XXXXXX). As outlined in your confirmation email you must have the required amount of points in your account and/or Marriott Bonvoy certificate(s) ordered within 14 days prior to arrival. We have reviewed your account and are unable to issue a certificate due to insufficient points.
Here are two options if you would like to retain your stay
- If availability allows, modify your reservation to a non-redemption stay secured with a standard method of payment.
- Purchase sufficient points and order the required certificate.
These options can be performed online at https://www.marriott.com/default.mi or by contacting your local Customer Engagement Center,
Kindly note that if no action has been taken over the next 48 hours, your reservation will be cancelled. If you have questions about Points Advance or Redemption Reservations, please visit our FAQ page for more information. https://help.marriott.com/s/article/Article-22333
Thank you for your continued loyalty to Marriott Bonvoy®. We look forward to welcoming you on your next trip.
Marriott Bonvoy Program Services
The member was confused so they logged into their account and saw they had more than the number of points quoted for their booking in their account. Since there was nothing flagged in the reservation, they thought the e-mail was a mistake. Still, they called called Marriott to check but decided not to wait on the quoted hour-plus hold time.
Marriott cancelled the reservation. It now cost 240,000 points, and they had 234,000 in their account. They got the cancellation notice, called, and were told nothing could be done. No award availability existed any longer. That was the end of their planned Hawaii vacation.
According to a Marriott spokesperson,
[W]ith Points Advance the member is able to hold a room but not the points price of the room. The points requirement for a room is subject to change until points are deducted from member account and certificate is issued. This is called out in the booking path and on the confirmation email. We do not store points required on day of booking nor do we send notifications should points required increase or decrease.
At 60 days after reservation is made or 14 days prior to check in – whichever comes first, we have an automated process to try to deduct points and attach certificate. If the member doesn’t have sufficient points and our automated process cannot issue the certificate, we manually review the reservation to see if we can resolve (i.e. using a mix of Points and Free Nights Awards). If we cannot resolve, we then we send an email communication to the member notifying that they have 48 hours to resolve the reservation with options (Purchase outstanding points amount, switch to Cash & Points stay, switch to paid stay). If no action is taken by the member after 48 hours then we proceed to cancel the stay.
The notice from Marriott did not say “the price of your reservation has changed.” It did not say “your account is 6000 points short.” It just said you don’t have enough points, but the guest didn’t realize the number of points required could change and Marriott’s communication didn’t say it had changed, by how much, or how many more points the guest needed. That’s unfortunate.