I've been reading the comments associated with this new Marriott Rewards program. I'm going to try to point out what this program is about and any advantages that may be there for us Rewards Members. These are my interpretations...please don't hesitate to correct my faulty thinking or add anything I've missed.
The one thing that is being touted by Marriott is you can now use one reservation to create a stay that uses some nights on points and some nights on cash. I guess the old system caused you to create two separate reservations and count on the hotel management helping you to splice them together. This doesn't seem to be WOWing the crowd, but it is an improvement.
Other chains offer a point and cash program. I am aware of Holiday Inn and I'm sure there are others. I think, most people were hoping for something like Holiday Inn's program......
The Holiday Inn program allows a person to use points plus cash for a stay of one or more nights. This is handy if you don't have enough points for a reward and would still like to redeem. For instance, if you have 40,000 Holiday Inn points and would like to stay 2 nights at a hotel that gets 25,000 points for a free night, you could only afford one night. With their program, they will allow you to use 15,000 points plus $70 (example) for each night. Therefore, you'll use 30,000 points of your available 40,000 along with $140 and get to redeem for two nights. In essence, Holiday Inn is letting you stretch your points when you don't have enough to cover the normal redemption amount. This cash transaction shows up on your credit card at the time of booking.
The Marriott program is different. You can't use points and $$ for the same night. In other words, you can't "buy down" the points needed with cash. Most people don't see any advantage to this versus what is already offered.
Here's what I think....... The new Marriott program will allow you to pick and choose nights for Reward stays. Let's say you would like to go to Atlanta for 7 nights. Typically, you would redeem 6 nights worth of points for this stay. You get one night free after 4 nights. With the new program, you could decide to use points for just 5 nights (one free) and pay cash for 2 nights. This would work for people that don't have enough points for the 7 night stay AND one other group of Reward Members. Read below.
When I tried the tutorial as to how this new program works, it gave me the option of clicking on each night of the stay and checking out the cash rate. This opened up the following thoughts:
Some of us have debated the "breakeven" point of these redemption nights. The quandary is....If the cash rate is $299 I believe points redeemed are a good trade off. BUT do I always want to use 20,000 points or should I just pay cash? If the nightly rate is $99 instead of $299, do I want to use the 20,000 or not? How about $89? $79?....At what price should you just pay cash and save your points for a more expensive trade off. With this new Marriott Cash + Points program, if I was looking for a 7 night stay and a hotel has high cash rates for weekdays, let's say $299 and low rates for weekends, lets say $99...I may choose to use points for the weekday nights and pay the cash rate for the weekend. I'll save two nights of points for another stay where I'll get a better bang for my buck. This I like....
I'm sure other folks will find advantages that I haven't seen....Some will find that there are no new advantages at all... Please share your thoughts.
I have actually done the example you cited under the current system; using two reservations, points for the five nights (at the four night rate) and cash for the weekend rate. Of course the risk you take is having to change rooms, but so far I'm 3 for 3 (and should I lose, fair enough, I would change).
Since you read the terms far more closer than I, here's a question, that if answered in the affirmative would actually be a positive: Do you know if I booked a room with say an ocean view (premium) for cash for say two nights and used points for two nights - would I get an ocean view for four nights?
Thanks for you diligence, hopefully there's a pony amidst the manure.
The way I see it, you book the same room for all 4 days. When you start the booking process, you indicate it's a point stay and choose which room you want, ie, king w/sofa, 2 queen, etc. After you choose the room, a dialog box opens, it lists the dates you've chosen as a timeline. Each day has the option of a click-on button to use points or cash rate. It will recalculate your totals as often as you like. The two hotels I checked, one in Pittsburgh and one in Atlanta, would allow for cash days as the first two of seven or the last two of seven.
As far as the premium room..... As we know, some hotels only light up certain rooms for point redemption. A resort, for example may only have courtyard views versus ocean views available for points. Since these Cash + Points reservations start as point redemption stays, I don't think you would be able to book an ocean view. You'd either hope for an upgrade or call ahead and see if the GM will hook you up.
You know, there's something to be said about the Springhill Suites, which essentially have all the same rooms and no true upgrades. I've found elites have an excellent chance of getting exactly the room (floor, view etc) they want. Yes, the range of outcomes is slimmer, but the highs and lows of the upgrade game is removed, almost like a straddle in investing, hedging away some of the potential angst (and of course, the thrill of the grand slam, but sometimes very good is good enough). Speaking of which, I'm off to one of my faves, the O'Hare Springhill, a great property (still only a Cat 3 with a free shuttle from airport and to the El). Perfect for a one day event and I always get a terrific view of downtown (and of course a great breakfast). Good night all.
USA Today did an interesting comparison of the Cash & Points programs when announcing Marriott's take. It is posted on the USA Today website:
Thanks for the informative post nyc.
Man, this has been a tough day for me with my introduction to Flyertalk - Marriott Forum. I'm growing worried that my decades of loyalty aren't now being currently replaced by a naivete on my part. Seeing what others offer and even more importantly to me, seeing how Marriott has recently merchandised modest changes as significant enhancements concerns me about the going forward direction of their attitude toward long term elites (and that's not even factoring in the remarkably ineffective communication of other program changes/revisions). Ouch.
I recommend anyone who hasn't seen the Flyertalk - Marriott Forum to take a look at the link nycdave provided in the USA Today article - it will demonstrate that Marriott Insiders aren't the only core loyalists disappointed with the recent program treatment (again, to be differentiated from the satisfaction of the quality of the customer service execution at the property level).
Thanx for the link to the interesting article.
In reading the article I am wondering if I am missing something. How does as the article says, "Now your paid night and reward night will be combined into one reservation." benefit me?
I thought we were discussing buy one get one free, not buy one, use my points for another free night?
Are they trying to take their point of view to the marketplace to see what sort of support they will get?
Yes my fellow Insiders, Marriott has seemed to have outdone themselves in terms of phraseology. First it was the new program "enhancements" and "no blackout days" of 2009, now they bring us "cash + points". As the USA Today article pointed out, all other hotel companies use this phrase to means using a smaller number of points while paying a modest supplement. Playing around with the new program revealed a big restriction, for the properties I was experimenting with, the cash price quoted was not necessarily the best price, so it appears that you may be given the rack rate for the nights you are paying for, resulting in a call to central reservations anyway.
Perhaps a better title for the new feature would have been "OneFolio".
Looks like we've been hoodwinked once again. I can't wait for the time when Marriott implements changes which bring them inline with their competitors, with features such as suite upgrades and a true Cash and Points program instead of the scheduled yearly devaluations that we've come to expect. Where is this all leading?
I like your retitling suggestion of "OneFolio"
When I do 'cash + points' with United/Continental its a "half price fare" OR "half the number of normal points + some token amount of money" (my guess its the federally required airport tax).
So the airplan example of a regular fare I fly for EWR-DTW
If I translate this into a normal hotel room at Marriott in NYC which I do with equal frequency
Guess I am not getting what I am saving.
Its an enhancement tot he reservation system best called "OneFolio" as you suggest.
Any frequent traveler will see right through this, so they must be courting the less frequent traveler that is not very savvy about travel loyalty programs.