Marriott offers Platinum elites and higher upgrades to suites if they’re available for the member’s full stay at the time of check-in. There are a lot of Platinum members, and at peak periods those suites can be tough to come by. It can also be challenging to get an individual hotel to actually honor the benefit.
So they also have a process, pioneered by Starwood, that takes the upgrade lottery out of the hands of the individual hotel and lets members specify when they want priority for their upgrades. That’s the Suite Night Award.
- Members request the upgrade, to specific room types identified by the hotel
- Starting 5 days before check-in Marriott will start searching for availability
- They’ll keep trying to confirm the upgrade up until a day before check-in
W Doha Suite
Suite Night Awards Are a ‘Choice Benefit’ For Elites
Marriott Bonvoy members who stay 50 nights in a year can select from several benefits, including 5 “Suite Night Awards.” Other choices include gifting silver status (which is next to worthless), 40% off buying a mattress, a $100 charitable donation, and 5 elite nights towards status.
At 75 nights members can choose another benefit, including again 5 Suite Night Awards, 40% off a mattress, a $100 charitable donation, 5 elite nights towards status, or a free night (worth up to 40,000 points) or gifting gold status (2 p.m. late checkout and hopefully avoiding the room over the HVAC).
Suite at Las Alcobas, Mexico City
Suite Night Awards Are Upgrade ‘Priority’ (Not Confirmed Upgrades)
This isn’t the same thing as Hyatt offering top tier elite members ‘confirmed’ upgrades when they make their reservation. Don’t think of these as confirmed upgrades, even though they may be processed up to 5 days in advance. Think of them as a member having a limited number of nights where they can raise their hand and say they’d like to jump to the front of the queue for elite upgrades.
Different members value upgrades differently on each stay. It’s a shame to give the upgrade to a member who doesn’t care much one way or the other, while denying it to one who would especially value it.
Sometimes members want that suite when on vacation with their family, but don’t care at all when staying solo. Or maybe the suite only matters to them on longer stays, while a hotel might tend to give space available upgrades at check-in to guests on short one- or two-night stays.
Westin Stonebriar Chairman’s Suite Has 8 Rooms
Suite Night Awards Attempt to Keep Hotels From Playing Games With Inventory
The Suite Night Award process takes the upgrade out of the hands of the hotel and distributes upgrades centrally, based on Marriott’s own formula. And since they are using a hotel’s own published inventory of what rooms are available for purchase, it’s supposed to solve the gaming of inventory by hotels who don’t otherwise abide by the rules of the program.
Suite Living Room, Sheraton Denver Tech Center
There’s A Lot Of Competition For Suite Night Award Upgrades
When Marriott took over Starwood, and merged members into a new program, Suite Night Awards didn’t always work at all properties. There were technical issues processing these upgrades. Let’s leave those aside, and also Marriott’s inability to process upgrades on prepaid reservations and multi-room reservations.
There are more than enough empty suites through the Marriott chain to satisfy all of the outstanding Suite Night Awards that are out there. However members don’t spread their requests evenly across all hotels, throughout the year.
Everyone wants an upgrade at the Westin Maui over Christmas and New Year’s. Very few members request upgrades at the Sheraton Tucson in July.
Westin Napa Verasa Suite Living Room
Marriott Doesn’t Make All Available Rooms Eligible For Suite Night Awards
Hotels receive very modest compensation when Suite Night Awards are confirmed on nights where the property is nearly sold out. On other nights they do not receive compensation from Marriott for these processed upgrades at all. So it’s important to hotels, and to Marriott, that Suite Night Award upgrades don’t crowd out guests who might pay for an upgraded room.
I was asked recently by a Platinum member why they were denied a Suite Night Award at the San Juan Marriott for a two night stay when the requested room type they listed on their upgrade request was still available for sale.
One Marriott executive I consulted with confirmed for me that there are no capacity controls, no limits on the number of upgrades a hotel might give using Suite Night Awards on a given night. The issue here wasn’t that the allotment of upgrade rooms had already been given out.
Instead, a spokesperson explained to me, “an SNA upgrade is based on current and forecasted availability.” Just because a room is available for sale doesn’t mean a member requesting a Suite Night Award will be upgraded to it if Marriott forecasts that the room will be sold. And Marriott isn’t even clearing a higher percentage of requests during the Covid-19 pandemic despite drops in hotel occupancy.
A room can be available 24 hours prior to check-in, but Marriott’s systems will still hold back the inventory to possibly sell to someone rather than upgrade the member into that room. Of course if they do not sell the room then it’s available as a potential upgrade at check-in.