The past several years Marriott has announced the Category changes in February with you being able to book at the older (usually lower) points level until mid-May. Of course, just like the disclaimer language on financial prospectuses, past performance is not an indicator of future results meaning they could announce at any time, with shorter 'open' booking periods (or even with no advance notice).
You can (at least currently) book points reservations without the points and earn them before your trip and you can currently book rooms through October/first week November ( about 350 days in advance), although as iahflyr and several others have pointed out, some properties are not allowing rooms to be available on points. And this year for the first time in memory, they actually had some mid-year increases in categories.
Bottom line - plan as far in advance as is effective. Good luck.
Your memory is still intact. It's in Pending Questions and merb is digging out the answer http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/15125 along with Can we opt out of resort fees and will there be gift card bonus points this year (it doesn't look like it, since they normally did it first week November).
politicalman - this is a good example of how previous models/programs aren't always followed, so dive into the grid and reserve yourself a great place (note: you can always cancel the points reservation, but keep in mind, if you cancel after their strike date - you move to the higher category).
Have been using excess points for gift cards - they come in quite handy for expensive restaurants (i. e. Ruth's Chris) stores, etc.
Also concerned about subtle changes (I have posted on this before) in property ratings - seems like many category 4 and 5's quietly are moving up resulting in more points required.
Well, I've heard that Marriott's going for a big shake up of the scheme this year, with changes to silver qualification and gold benefits that could include new categories and additional bonuses...
Then again, maybe I'm just spending too much time on idle chatter in the lounge or at the bar!
Brightly, I recently spoke with someone who works at Marriott and he said there may be radical changes coming to MR that will be announced later this Spring and take effect in 2015. The changes being discussed include:
Not sure how much of the above will actually come to fruition and how much was simply speculation. Keep in mind, as baby boomers ride off into the sunset and decrease their business travel, MI and MR have to cater the program to the new breed of business travelers (read Millennials), that will make up the core group of business travelers for the next couple of decades.
Thanks for sharing, fascinating stuff and each bullet point is certainly plausible from where I sit. Whereas it might be a frivolous exercise in reacting to speculation (although probably no more than the exercises we all love to play in this forum about what benefits we want/deserve next) it does point out the need to "fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night".
Marriott has always been a follower (quite successfully so) and it does not surprise me that they would be leaning toward the trend of taking care of their 'super customers' as defined by revenue produced. pingreeman, stelzer001 and even my ol' pal, dark side brother from another mother dejamo dust off your Plat Premier shoes and get ready to run with the big dogs, we're moving into your wheelhouse.
Any one surprised or shocked at the possible changes you have described are naive!
Marriott has made it easier and easier to earn points and reach higher elite status.
As the situation is further complicated by admitting new elites through alliances (like United Airlines) the only certain thing you can depend on is CHANGE.
They must do something - CL's are crowded, upgrades scarce, and prices rising.
AND, unfortunately, change in this case will mean a dilution of our status and point's buying power.
There have been volumes written about dilution and I believe it will remain the number one concern and subject discussed on these pages for the infinite future.
If changes like the above go through, I'm not wasting any intellectual energy moaning about benefit dilution - that ship has sailed. I'm going to be seeking specific advice from fellow travelers on my desired upcoming trips (like psudad Belgium tips and pluto77 train ideas jerrycoin hop on hop off buses in European cities along with names of Concierge associates and guys like misterchk on the City of Angels cultural activities .
I hope by "culture" you are referring to information on where to find the best pizzas and chili dogs!!!!! (assuming you can get there through the traffic)
Well, as this seems to be public, my discussions certainly centred around the some of this...
1) changing qualification rules to revenue based that will see the silver, gold and plat gaps more evenly split. This is still being debated as a lot of the calculations on the scheme are so night based, as are records for the recently announced (2013) lifetime scheme.
2) The outcome of the above may simply be an increase in nights for silver.
3) formalising Premier status with some real benefits centred around things like guaranteed suite upgrades with perhaps parking and resort benefits
4) overcrowding in lounges very likely to see gold automatic access ended and dependent on upgrade.
5) new flash award point sales.
things that have been discussed but are likely to remain unchanged are gold breakfasts, no suites below prem, no change to resort rules, other than prem, 5th night free on awards, plat automatic lounge access, long-stay brand points.
The feeling is the scheme needs a revamp to make it long term financially viable, that if this nettle is grasped now, then esp with the revenue based move for qualification, the scheme will be fit for the 2020s, more appealing to millenials, and to grasp the lounge overcrowding nettle that is particularly prevalent in USA.
finally, I think theres a big question mark on courtyards, they're stuck irreversibly in the 80's and the bistro idea hasn't solved the problem. The lack of benefits at courtyards has always been reasoned as simply not required, as a business brand most stayers at courtyards don't actually exercise the choice themselves to stay or not, the company beancounters do that. However nowadays more and more road warriors are gaining control of their own travel budget and questions now need to be asked whether a big change in pointearning and benefits for MR could drive occupancy rates here.
Thanks for sharing, makes for some interesting thoughts. From the little that I've heard from my Marriott HQ pals (and they're few and far between these days) there does seem to be a theme: more for Premier travelers, somewhat financed by less for golds, leaving us regular ol' Plats needing to work hard on avoiding acting like Marie Antoinette.
Last year was a good training year for me as I transitioned away from being addicted to both Marriott properties and the 'loyalty' program. I'm now exerting my wishin' and hopin' energies toward Marriott leaving alone the Travel Packages (being impacted of course by the category increases), the 5 nights for 4 points stay awards, and giving us the several month head start to book in advance of whatever changes they install (which I'm hoping are as late into Spring as possible).
I think we're in for a big, big change. Good luck to one and all (but of course, hopefully, not at my expense ).
Exactly, freed from the shackles of point addiction, we will soon be free to 'roam about the cabin' seeking the best lodging experiences with all factors included, which still, due to plat recognition, internet - if kept, breakfast, familiarity and consistent delivery of excellent service, result in a significant number of Marriott stays. It's the rare breed, indeed that slides over to Fairmont or Kimpton .
Yes I was just telling my personal butler that this morning at the Kimpton. We were plotting our drone adventures for the day, including a fly over of the Empire State Building. The BMQ bikes are readied for our mobile launch and recovery. Benefits? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Benefits! As the old line in the Treasure of Sierra Madre goes (or went(
Actually it seems there is a determination to keep Plat as the top flight qualification, with gold slipping a little down the tree concerning the lounge access. From what I've heard the idea is to keep the 3 tiers, but with Plat premiers having added benefits that really cant be made available to the numbers that can maintain Plat. For instance there's no intention to improve the bonus points to Premiers as it's viewed as a part of the plat qualification. The new platinum elite criteria will require large stays to get there, with the sums based on 75 nights as now, so it'll be a tough level to attain and maintain, but Marriott, like the airlines, is concerned that it's in danger of losing ultra-loyal customers and feels an need to shore up this premier element.
More pertinently, what's really diluted the scheme really effects Gold members whose ranks have swelled so much by high credit card nights making many 25nights per year silvers into golds, rollovers which due to the gap between silver and gold causes high rollovers ensuring many silvers can make gold every 2 years, exacerbated further if they carry the credit card, then the UA Golds are added. Gold has become devalued, and it's gold members whether LT or not, that will pay the price of that policy. I say that as a Plat within a year of making LTGold...
Well said brightlybob, and I agree that Marriott needs to skew their elite levels, since I suppose they have seen a tremendous growth in Golds with the United thing and credit card usage. Following the airlines lead (Delta) about spending limits must also make sense to corporate.
However, the elimination (as opposed to devaluation) of benefits will create quite a stir, and I assume cause defections from MR. Nonetheless, there is a steady stream of new to Marriott folks, who will fill those ranks. Bottom line for Marriott is bad press for a whilw, then less impact in the long run, IMHO.
HHence the gold lounge benefit will not be sold as an elimination, rather that a previously unconditional benefit just got a bit conditional. Don't forget, outside the USA and away from the credit cards and most UA flyers, the lounges remain quite accessible, as do upgrades. I suspect non-US Golds may not see much change
Very true. But as in any competitive business, when one company makes a move everyone watches to see if they should too.
n fact my bigger fear is that Marriott will someday acquire another major lodging brand, and like Comcast/Time Warner's impending merger (if approved), the need to be generous will diminish, prices will rise, and benefits will ride off into the sunset.
I'm just not sure as much as you are about the long run. While I get your point, I hear from my students (and former students -- a number of whom work on Wall St and in hedge funds) who just go for the best deal, which is exactly what I've done. I think that for people like me, who started out poor but had to travel, loyalty programs worked really well. When I was no longer poor and reaped the benefits of the loyalty programs (being a somewhat late baby boomer), I thought it was great. But as I got older and made more money and the loyalty programs got de-valued, I started questioning (as I think at least one low-cost hotel ad does on TV) why I was going out of my way to stay at places that were not convenient, sometimes much more expensive that local boutique hotels, and where (in the latter) I could also get breakfast and internet. This came with the hotels starting first with the upping of levels, lowering of benefits, etc. And while I am a loyal Insiders, I only stay at Marriotts a few times a year (usually the Venice Airport) when it's convenient for me. I will do the same with Delta until I see how it goes.
I'm not as sure as you that the loss of a lot of oldtimers won't hit Marriott (and the airlines) hard. The airlines are probably immune because they tend to be the blind leading the blind, though at least they often follow through if one major one bucks the trend. I don't see hotel loyalty going back to the olden days at all, and I for one am more than satisfied with what I've been getting through booking, hotels, expedia, orbitz, trip advisor, etc.
Could be so, Professpor, but the bell curve of Marriott Rewards members favors the casual guest and perhaps the Silver Elites, meaning that there is a small percentage of Platinum and Platinum Premiers out there, I would guess under one percent of the total. When a long time stayer with high status leaves, it hurts somewhat but the good news is that they are not earning or using points anymore. Just my take on this, not based on insider information
But, anadyr, that is the opposite model of what Delta has done, which favors SOLELY high flyer/ near time purchase/ business class/ refundable first/business fares. The casual flyer is pretty much damned now in all scenarios, but so is the not business class paying flyer who always flies internationally but is only authorized to use the best possible fare. Again, I'm using my Delta points now (and have a lot), and have pretty much done in all Marriott points.
Sometimes the grass is greener. I don't know if it will turn out that way regarding Delta (I hope they see the error of their ways, but they probably will not, especially if [as it seems from Randy Petersen] that American will go along. But no longer being a Marriott Anything-But-What-They-Choose-To-Give-Me has paid off high dividends in great quality stays and all the perks I could want. Oddly enough, because the euro is so high and hotel costs so high in Europe, the revenue model for hotels would have worked wonderfully for me. Ironic.
You're going to be surprised to hear me say this, but since I was essentially jettisoned -- by, as I said ironically, the lack of a revenue model, I agree.
What this tells me is that what might work for hotels does not necessarily work for airlines and vice versa. And none of these models (so far as I can see) takes in the domestic vs. the international travel. Just by traveling abroad, mostly to Europe, I automatically get dinged x 1.38 or if in the UK 1.68, not to mention the very high cost of hotels. Getting to Europe, however, can be much cheaper.
I'm not sure I am articulating this very well, but it almost strikes me that in some ways the airlines are doing what the hotels should have and vice versa. Or, probably more significantly, there should be factored in (if we're talking about hotels) what Categories of hotel you stay at and what you pay -- e,g. the cheapest twin room at the Grand Flora is 279 EUR or $385 a night (the CHEAPEST!). Yet when I stayed there I got only the same number of nights as someone who stayed at a Fairfield or Courtyard in the US. Admittedly I got the x points, but it does not equal out. If hotels adopted a revenue/stay model, I might consider coming back, because I felt I was not particularly valued as a customer who easily spent $40-50,000 a year on a relatively few number of stays compared to many people who stay 2/3 - 3/4 of a year in hotels in the US.
Before I raise hackles, I want to emphasize that I'm gone. There are a few Marriotts I'll still stay at and I'll probably always be on Insiders, but the grass really has been greener for me -- but not with franchise hotels. I've stayed at the hotel that gave me exactly what I wanted for the right price in the right place.
I still think Delta and others who follow suit are playing a precarious game because when you count only the non-tax fare (which can actually be far less than the taxed fare internationally), devalue the SkyTeam Partner parts of the awards even when booked on an 006 ticket, far fewer miles are going to be accumulated by the vast majority of flyers. They say (though now that I have seen the chart it's a joke) that this will make more FF seats available). Ya think? Most FF awards are the same, but you will be earning so much less to get them.
So I am actually partially (only partially) rethinking my 2014 strategy and cancelled 2 business class trips while keeping 2. So 250,000 miles got back into my account and presumably for next year only if I keep my Platinum+ status i should have a slight advantage next year. After that all bets are off.
Kinda figures that PP would actually get real benefits since I almost certainly won't qualify for it again.
Big slap if they get rid of lounge access for Plats. They've already jacked up categories substantially over the past couple years with the addition of Cat 8 and then Cat 9, and a lot of properties moving up. At the same time the MR Premier Visa only remains Cat 1-5 award which is becoming quickly useless. They needs to be changed to Cat 1-6 to actually mean anything and be worth the annual fee.
Meanwhile what is going to happen to the Plat and LT Plat tier? Sounds like mass devaluations coming akin to Delta. I guess they're still following the playbook of Ed French.
I totally agree with your assessment. Marriott often has overhead reduction in forces that pretty much, intentionally, cut too deep. The good news, it is a very effective technique for determining where they really needed the staff, and they add back; the bad news, those that were cut, don't always make it back. In a similar vein, the pingreeman, stelzer001 and other hard charging travelers who reduced their stays last year in disappointment/irritation over the lack of recognition, have as brightlybob indicates above, actually made an impact - the bad news, their numbers are down and it may be a while until they get back to premier level, where the action is.
Platinum status being harder to earn does impact the lifetime old lodgers (codgers) like Anadyr, myself, and several others who racked up big numbers but don't maintain them now. So like I wrote above, here's hoping we (LP) keep some decent level of perks (again, you don't know what you've got until it's gone). And the golds like ks77 and clebert get hammered twice; once by the flooding of golds by United type deals and then twice by the dilution of benefits because of the flooding.
Like I wrote above and mentioned in profchiara's Delta write up, I think we're moving to the benefits world of haves and have nots, somewhat perhaps overcompensating for the real haves being overlooked these past years. I'm glad for the haves, but unfortunately in a zero sum game, the have nots must pay. Again, increasing the value of Insiders for those of us left standing.
Joni Mitchell would be proud of you erc. They paved paradise and put up a Marriott!
Yep and the management will continue to increase revenue, measured in RevPar, so that is what trumps (not you, the Donald) all.
As I have often said, the rationale for loyalty is like Jello, it glistens and shakes and moves around, and if you can get a taste it's pretty good; otherwise have a nice day!
Whoa, what a ride, reading all of this. If most of what's been speculated here comes to fruition, all I can say is, "It was a good run while it lasted!" Additionally, in a similar vein of the saying, "I picked a bad day to stop drinking," I perhaps might say, "I picked a bad couple of years to not travel" (thus hoarding points by default and ultimately causing further devaluation.) Oh well, you win some, ya lose some.
Last year, I got real huffy over the devaluation of points and categories. Looks like that was chump change compared to what may be on the horizon. What I learned from last year was that all of the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands and malcontent really wasn't worth it. Life's happiness is not ultimately defined by Marriott (which isn't to imply any sort of lack of gratitude thus far and btw.) Just roll with the punches and get better at shopping the deals.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away! It wasn't mine to begin with, and all that jazz...there are other things in life that matter much more... and so it goes...
I just finished reading through all the posts. Does anyone think that maybe Marriott leaks info like this and then stands back and allow us to vent. We are giving them feedback and helping them decide which parts they may implement.
I am LP with Marriott and continue to earn platinum each year.
I just lost my gold with Starwood but expect to earn it back before the end of the year.
I am silver with Hilton and expect re earn gold back later this year.
This leaves me in a position to pick and choose depending on price and benefits.
At times I think there is a let's try this attitude at corporations and even government agencies (HHS for example). I think they (Marriott) are doing lots of focus groups and interoffice groups to see what sells, what does a change do the bottom line, what are the upsides and downsides of any revenue change. Marriott actuaries must know what a change in benfits does to the overall MR program, down to the one millionth of one percent. Like apartment owners, you can raise the rent until people no longer rent. In hotels, you can raise the rates, reduce loyalty benefits, and see who stays and who goes. With nearly 40 million Members Marriott Rewards is a program with plenty of members.
You nailed it, Californian. I think we can still be useful to one another even when we have left Marriott. And I've not left Marriott 'for good' -- I still stay at a few (like Venice Courtyard) when I need to, but no longer for my regular stays. It is not cost effective for me to do so nor do I get the benefits I get through independent hotels. Moreover, places like expedia, orbitz, hotels, booking, etc., now have their reward program. And since I am still this year high Plat status with Delta I booked my Grande Bretagne stay through their crossover program which in theory gives me upgrade benefits. I'll report back once I find out if it's true.
But I have come to the conclusion that loyalty programs are dying -- that hotels and airlines are trying to convince it is a slow and rewarding death -- but that it is nonetheless happening.
I loved reading all your insights and must say I have begun to wander into Hilton's recently and found them to be equal to or possibly a better deal than Marriott. A recent stay at an Embassy Suites gave us a very large clean room, excellent bathroom and walk in shower, free breakfast with no status yet in Honors, a bed that was many times over more comfortable than most FS Marriott's, let alone CY and RI.
I will continue to branch out when it is warranted by location if I have to go even slightly out of my way to get a Marriott property and may even reach Gold in Hilton Honors this year. I enjoy my LP at Marriott and have been treated very very well in just about every hotel we stay however; am no longer joined exclusively at the hip.
All of the expertise in this thread sure gives some great ideas on ways to possibly enhance travel both in hotels and airlines. I've lost my high status on UA and even Avis this year by not traveling nearly as much last year, but reading these posts certainly gives me and others the concept of being open to different options that fit our plans the very best.
Thanks so much.
Even today as I was looking into Greek flights, I saw how I could get to Santorini with accommodations and flights rather than staying in Athens. I would have actually done it even though it would have meant Lufthansa (on which I have no status whatsoever), except that again, everything seems to be closed before Easter, though some hotels and restaurants are open -- just not worth it.
I have had an absolutely wonderful time -- and I do not mean to diss Marriott in this -- once I got off the bandwagon of a points hunt, I started staying where I wanted and getting everything I wanted and I am a happy (non) camper.
Speculating about potential changes has a value to me, in that it helps me reframe my tactics for the worse expected outcome, and if Marriott doesn't change as aggressively as we're discussing, I'm certainly ok with that and will still benefit from the dry run - so no anxiety involved, it will be what it will be.
californian, similar to some of the 'far out' thoughts on the Malaysian airline thread, I'm right there with you on the idea about Marriott, whether leaked or not, monitoring the thread for a 'feel'. I've always felt, like the dynamic gang at Salt often say, that our stuff is "shared with the team" and that a company as effectively run as Marriott would be careless overlooking free customer input - whether they reacted or not. As noted on Flyertalk and observed by many Insiders, the last time a hotel category change was made so late in the year was the infamous 2009 major 'enhancement' plan (I still haven't ruled out my thought about the timing in relationship to the Freddies - get ready painedplatinum), so I do believe some components of our discussion are reality based. IMO it's going to 'divide and conquer' and tker you may be onto something (Marriott might struggle retroactively changing statuses, so a tightening going forward along with a reduction in bennies would be a way to manage future costs - somewhat like sports teams do with expensive player contracts).
anadyr - I agree with you about costs and the consumers' behavior (far better success negotiating room rate with GM than 800#) but the window is closing as the hotels and airlines seem to be moving lockstep in their pricing and cost control behavior coupled with recent economic momentum, providing less options for leverage.
profchiara - alternate products and services are where this thread has given me the most thought, highlighting once more the potential value of Insiders. Forecasting a restructuring of my lodging strategies, I reviewed my stays the past two years as I had (like you) already started weaning myself from the points earning Marriott stay. Surprisingly, I discovered that I still had over 100 Marriott butt in bed nights, they just didn't all earn points;
Friends Marriott Time Share (like Newport Villas where I'll see pluto77 and cal); 7-14 nights per year
MegaBonus and Credit Card Certificates 5-7 nights per year
Award Points 7-12 nights per year
Friends and Family rate 4-8 nights per year (well worth the loss in points)
Rooming w/ sports bud Marriott Quarter Century/Associate rate (wow - free, and up to $500 savings per night!) - 2-5 nights each year
I also moved to other hotels and lodges (Travelzoo, Amazonlocal, and property specials) but I knew what property I was at.
So, as much as I'm hooked on Marriott, I have been training to go elsewhere, if aggressive changes are made, I'll downshift to SpringHills and Res Inns where recognition status would still have a value, I'll seek out non-Marriott deals more energetically, and I will certainly ask my Insider colleagues about Billy Shatner's name your price game. Whereas I'm comfortable and have done fine in non-Marriott stays, I'm still a rookie in the world of booking locations blindly and will need some handholding. If it comes to that, as Stuart Smalley taught me, I'm good enough and smart enough and doggone it, people like IAHFLYR like me. Keep on keepin' on Insiders, the showdown is coming and that's when we'll need our gamefaces on .
Your darn right I do, even if I have some thoughts on things way out there, I still like you!! You and I should be given "hand-holding" (being neanderthals particularly) as we wander out into the non-Marriott world when necessary.
Here is another factor to consider. An article today in the Journal on fees in both airlines and hotels is a virtual gold mine of chances for docking travelers. Want to check in early in Las Vegas? Hand over some cash, say $25 dollars please! Like airline pillow and bag fees this is an idea whose time mat be coming.
Yep we have very limited power over these kinds of things but we have unlimited power to choose where we stay.