I think this is a great Insiders question, as I too have often wondered how the properties (company & franchised) are impacted by non-revenue rooms. Could one of our ambassadors or forum pros, Shoe, Pain, Pluto, Razor (congrats on WS run), Tef, etc do the voodoo that they do and link this to either the Community Managers or even Michellel so we can hear from the direct source? I'm not seeking any proprietary data, just, like Taxman, a feel for whether or not the properties have a reason to view a non-revenue room differently, especially when it comes to elite privileges. Thanks.
I left off my other thought - there was an earlier thread with this as a discussion (it's hard to tell date - it appeared 2010, but then reappeared 2012) with some good thoughts and some thoughtful speculation/hearsay by experienced Insiders, but no actual response by a Marriott associate. That's why I thought it would be interesting to get the actual policy (without requesting trade secrets).
Hi erc and Taxman,
If you ever want to alert a Community Manager and/or Marriott Associate (or for that matter, any other Insider) to a thread, all you have to do is type the @ sign, and then the Insiders name (user id) right after the @ sign, no spaces. In fact, when you type the @ sign, you will see a list pop up of Insiders names. You can @ NathalieF or @ michellel2, or anybody else that you want to alert the conversation to. Here on Insiders, it's referred to as 'mentioning.' It's a handy little tool.
Not a frequent traveler and I certainly have no confirmed info as to how a property is reimbursed by corporate for points or free night certs. I have an idea that they are probably reimbursed at the lowest published standard rate, or perhaps (likely) even lower. The bottom line is dollars certainly (financial impact definitely influences room assignments), in terms of what drives properties to set the thresholds for how many rooms they set aside for points and certs, as well as whether or not an elite guest is given an upgrade (and how much of an upgrade an elite guest receives) or not. It's a balancing act, I'm sure as to whether to give out a room on points vs. keeping it available for a paid reservation and risking it going unoccupied for a given night (points reimbursement is always better than nothing.) I'm sure they are required to set aside a minimum number of rooms for points, but how much discretion they have with tweaking that threshold, who can say? As to whether or not anyone from Marriott will share any policy that exists between corporate and properties (franchise or otherwise) regarding this here on Insiders, don't know, but certainly the bottom line is maximizing revenue. I think it unlikely that the nuts and bolts of how they arrive at these matrices would be disclosed, as that can actually begin to get into proprietary information, cost analysis and accounting, profit theories and all that important stuff that folks way smarter than I get paid to figure out. They're in business to make money. Revenue streams vs. happy rewards/elite customers continuing revenue streams (and the casual customer in general) is all part of a very complex equation I would imagine.
Erc, would you mind copying the URL from the earlier thread that you mentioned into this post? That way we can read more. Thanks!
1) Pluto, thanks for the thoughtful and informative response (although learning new stuff often creates more work - I'm still mad at Pops for teaching me how to mow a lawn!)
2) I don't know (don't teach me - please) how to copy the URL, but it was titled Upgrades and Treatment Using Points - started by diogenes72 - the first post is dated Apr. 28 2012 but since all replies are made in 2010, I think this was a case of resetting the date. Several good responses, one specifically by boatguy 1/26/10, but no response from Marriott.
3) Michellel (it's like writing Jor-L), Honcho of Social Media Marketing and newly eligible free hotel for life earner (congrats, you deserve it). Can you share some insight on this subject without allowing any proprietary data or operating secrets slip out? Are properties compensated in some fashion for free stays? Thank you, and give my regard to the Bogo Boys down on Democracy Boulevard - ha ha.
We sure are proud of our diamond Hogs. We got to see the regional games in Houston, but could not go to the World Series due to previous travel commitments. Going to the College World Series has always been on my bucket list. Now, if the football team can just get to the National Championship. We already have reservations in Miami.
Pluto, you must have been a front desk associate in a former life as you have characterized the activity perfectly! Actually, properties begin their pre-arrival planning beginning three days out (depending on the size of the hotel, sometimes less and sometimes more), and work to accommodate the preferences of their upcoming guest. They rank the priority of guest preferences by program status, meaning, Plat's first, Golds second and so on. In hotels with group activity, they also have to plan for the contractual requirements of suite and upgraded room allotments as well. We associates usually get the over-the-dumpster view.
Regarding the question as to whether the payment type is considered in the allocation of preferences - no it is not. In the case of redemption stays and free night certificates, the property is definitely reimbursed (the amount is considered competitive intelligence) and believe me, having a redemption stay or honoring a free night 'cert' does not impact their margins. Many front desk associates think that their hotel is giving something away, and we work hard at creating greater awareness of how the program works, but if we could just get them to acknowledge you on a consistent basis I would forgive their lack of understanding around the finances of the property-program relationship.
erc - things were going along just fine until you had to mention the bogo boys... Buzz kill. (P.S. Momma told me to never, never, never give up!).
Your pal, michellel
Terrific stuff, thanks for the effort and clarity, I greatly appreciate it.
Michellel, when I wore a younger man's clothes and worked for Marriott in the 70's, our running gag when told that our room overlooking the hvac and into the brick wall was the only one available was, "If Mr. Marriott was coming would that be the room you placed him in?" And the front desk associate would reply with an indignant, " Of course not", to which we would say, "well he's not coming, so give his to us". This worked only 1 in 15/20 times, but when it did, wow, lodging heaven!
Well, there we have it.
The two most important things to take away from this discussion, based on Michelle's input, is:
1) A redemption stay or free night 'cert' stay does not impact a property's financial margins, and
2) The payment type (cash, points, or certs, etc.) is not supposed to have any impact on the allocation of preferences.
In theory it makes sense. We're not always going to get a room upgrade. It's first come, first served, and better rooms are not always available. Upgrades are not guaranteed. Likewise, rooms on points are not always available, apparently even though the property is not full, since the number of rooms on points is limited.
But if using points/certs doesn't impact margins, then why are there only limited blocks of rooms available on points? Hmmm, curious. The other curiosity is, when staying on points, why are some upgrades free, some cost extra, and at some properties (like Treasure Island RI, according to one poster) they flat refuse to give room upgrades when staying on points, period? Is it a discretionary thing?
The manager was not happy about it. Think about it, Marriott probably looks at it as airlines do, the room would be unsold so they give the hotel enough to cover cleaning costs, etc to allow one of use to use it. If it is over 90% they get more because they might have able to sell the room.
I agree. Hotels have rooms that may go empty and so they sell some cheap. As part of Marriott, the hotels gives up pts when we stay, I don't know if the hotels have to pay for them, and the hotels take part in giving us rooms that might have gone empty. If we like the hotel, we may return as a paying guest.
I once stayed on points at the London County Hall about 5 years ago before the Cat 8 limits were imposed, and I got a look at the bill even though it was zeroed out. I forget how many nights I stayed (7?), but I was given a suite that was spectacular and had a name. It's been a long time so I've forgotten the name, but I remember seeing the bill that was nearly 100,000 pounds. A similar thing happened before the change with the Grand Flora in Rome, where I stayed about 8 days on points, got the Presidential Suite, and saw about 100,000 euros before they presented me with my bill for miscellaneous charges, which was less than $200. So unless something is haywire here (or has changed in recent years) it seems to me that the hotels are most assuredly getting compensated for the room charge. Maybe Andy or Michelle can address this. I do know what I saw. All of this happened 3-5 years ago, so something might have changed.
Actually, I think I just answered a recent thread rather thank asking on my own behalf. But I did reply to the second of the two threads twice, and yes, one was the London County Hall and the other the Grand Flora. In both those cases, I felt I was treated BETTER than expected as a person using points (but it was a few years ago...I had a slightly different experience in one of many stays at the County Hall more recently), and yes, I got to see something that looked like a bill in both cases after being lodged in spectacular suites (it definitely was the Presidential Suite at the Flora because I understood when I checked out that the man told them to redo the PS). And unless I was seeing something that was entirely different from what I assumed (but in the place on paper expected, just their side of it), it seemed they were getting paid very well indeed for my 'free stay'.
I don't know if that answers your question, but I don't think this thread was part of one of my questions, maybe just an answer.
Keep in mind as well that at least in the US the hotels have the guarantee policy of 'no lower rate'. I once had to stay at a Fairfield Inn in Bangor and I made a reservation for about $100 (not that great a bargain - it was not summer) and then found $59 on expedia. Marriott made good. So I am quite sure the properties, especially at the high end, but even the low, are getting a good percentage of the profits from free stays.
The hotel would certainly want to get reimbursed enough to cover housekeeping, etc, but they also are placing a bet that having the room filled on a award stay leaves the opportunity for incidental charges while an empty room certainly wouldn't generate any extra revenue.
May be more of a factor at a full service or resort property, but I for one tend to run up large expenses for poolside F&B or a nice onsite dinner especially if I've been treated well to a suite!