I was shocked when I saw the extent to which the categories were increased. This was not like prior years where they tweaked a handful of categories to truely reflect recent activity or performance of the hotels. This was a major adjustment/devaluation of the whole program, which must have been a deliberate decision from the very top brass from Marriott.
1. The free-stay certificates are now basically worthless. All of the decent/destination hotels are now Category 5 or greater, and in most cases 6 or higher so I won't even be able to use the anniversay certificate anymore. I can't remember the last time I stayed at any hotel that was less than Category 4 and I am not going to just to use a certificate.
2. All of the nice hotels now will cost 40 - 45 thousand points. Kiss all of your points goodbye if you are thinking about staying a few days in Europe or the Carribean.
3. The Platinum gift bonus of between 250 - 500 is now pretty much a joke. At that rate, I would need to stay a full service Marriott about 40 - 60 times before I earned enough gift points to warrant one free stay at a nice hotel. Forget it, I might as well grab the free bag of chips.
I too am deeply disappointed. All of my points are used at Cat. 7 & 8 (now 8 & 9) hotels, and as a non-business, yet still employed traveler with a finite amount of vacation time, it takes a long time for me to earn those points. It took almost 3 years to earn enough points for a 10 day top European Marriott stay that I have planned for next year, which will now be increased by an additional 40,000 points. To avoid the point increase, I will have to book the trip prior to May 16th (or whatever the magic date is), which will limit my options. I don't like being stripped of options, and I don't like it that the points that I previously earned are being significantly devalued. It seems like we just went through this a couple of years ago, with the number of categories being increased and the number of nights per point stays being decreased. On top of that, each year more hotels than not are being bumped up to the next category.
This year in particular is quite a doozie. More to the point, I have absolutely no incentive now to participate in the megabonus promotions. None. Zip. I was quite pleased at the fact that even after last year's annual hotel category increases, I was still able to use my Cat. 4 and single Cat. 5 certificates at a number of nice hotels locally and without the requirement of airfare: San Diego, La Jolla, Irvine, Carlsbad (near the folks), Newport Beach, Long Beach, Anaheim Disneyland Main Gate, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, San Luis Obispo, Salinas/Monterey, Burbank and even Oakland (a 12 minute bart ride from SF). Every single one of these hotels is jumping to a Cat. 5 or Cat. 6. There are simply no more getaway destinations within driving distance with which to use my certificates.
With limited free breakfasts, very, very few upgrades if any, megabonus promotions that are quite useless and points being devalued every year, for me, the advantages associated with customer loyalty have diminished to the point that my loyalty no longer outweighs the advantages of shopping for the best sales and deals, regardless of brand.
I have a sad feeling that Marriott and I will be parting ways in the not too distant future. It will be a parting not of my choosing, as Marriott has made that choice for me. It's a tragic thing to be in love with someone who doesn't love you back!
I agree. The loyalty that the Marriott family has built over the past 25+ years with the customer-oriented MR program is being destroyed in a little over a year by the short-sighted bean counters. This loss of customers may not mean much in good times, but will become much more pronounced when travel funds diminish.
You are absolutely correct. Marriott has now given me a reason to start exploring for better deals and to not use the Marriott Visa. Losing the free stay certificates is a huge blow to me because I used those every year at several places in Chicago, California, St. Louis, etc., etc. Almost all of those places are out of reach now. Which goes back to my original post - this was not a minor change. This was a major change to the whole program.
I have no doubt this was a calculated and deliberate effort by top management at Marriott after they crunched the numbers that the money they would lose from dissatisfied people like you and me would be outweighed by the gains they would recieve by handing out less free stays based on points and certificates. I guess I can not blame them for making a prudent business decision, after all they are in the business of making money. I am just dissapointed that the program I have enjoyed all these years is not the same anymore, and it probably will cause me to start "exploring." I say "probably" because I still like the Marriott brand and I am not sure whether the grass is greener anywhere else.
Alienating long time loyal customers is ALWAYS bad business. Reaching for the cheap buck, returns short term profits and long term job loss. When the powers that be decide to worry only about their next bonus check cycle, they tend to ruin the reputation of the company as a whole.....everyone suffers. There is never a good reason to try to scam your clients. People are smart. When you raise prices or point redemptions 5,6 or 7 times the rate of inflation, there will be consequences. You risk losing business and reputation.
I worked for a worldwide retail chain for many years. Back when smoking cigarettes was a more common occurrence, folks would purchase a pack and grab a book of "free" matches. A new bean counter took over as CFO. He/she took a look at costs and figured out that this industry leading chain was "giving away" over $1 Million in "free" matches each year. He/she put a stop to this practice on day 4 of their tenure. Sales plummeted, customers cursed out the store staff, and the reputation of an iconic chain went into the dumper. This person was so far removed from the customer that they had no idea that the "obvious" money saving decision was exactly the wrong thing to do. By the time the field staff was finally able to prove via data the decision was a bad one....the competition had welcomed a load of new customers...
Just ask the "New United" Airlines about alienating their top FF members and the impact to their bottom line. I completely agree with painedplatinum. pluto77 and the all the rest of the comments, guess I'll have to continue to get the 1/2 bottle of bad wine and bad cheese for my arrival gift.
I got the email on my phone this morning and almost threw the thing right into the woods. This is a sad day for us Marriott loyalists.
I am just as disappointed as you are. I too have been saving points for our big European trip in 2 years, and at this rate, it will turn into a short vacation at best, if we go at all. This is the most disturbing business model that Marriott is seeming to follow. Make Platinum easier and easier to get, upset your REAL hardcare Platinum users to the point where most of them want to leave, and replace them with people who will have no loyalty except to whoever has the cheapest rates of any hotel change. It sure appears to be a race to the bottom for Marriott. I have already gotten rid of all of my Marriott stock, and now need to use up all of my points as soon as possible so I can start looking for the cheapest specials with any brand, instead of always trying to use Marriott to keep my points building. Such a sorry, sorry day for all of us former "Marriott loyalists". This has been the worse year I can remember in recent years of Marriott benefits.
I am with you and the others.The Marriott points are close to worthless. Those Cat 4 certificates will be close to impossible to use and the Cat 5 for the CC also. At this point I am considering canceling the CC when the annual fee comes up. The points that I get are close to worthless and I can use a CC that pays cash for use. I used to think the Cat 5 night would more than cover the annual fee but now I am not sure that I can even use it.
To All the Marriott Plat Elites: While you were all typing I was to talking to supervision at Marriott Guest Services. I was the first to complain about the Rewards Program changes by phone. Quite a distinction! For over 26 years the Marriottt card was a prized possession as a frequent traveler card. NO LONGER and I made it clear to guest services this move was a bad one. I have hit the top elite status multiple ways and fell betrayed by this significant devaluation of the Rewards Program.
Folks this is the work of Arne Soenson, who is l;ocated at the Bearcat Rd, Bethesda, Maryland address. He is the new CEO and making changes that Mr. Marriott would not have contemplated. I ask you to all write letters to Sorenson and copy Mr. Marriott. We need to get ALL platinum members to take the time and make our voices heard.
I will be dusting off the cards of Hilton and Hyatt and will use my current bank of 1M in points and have a big going away party. BTW, have you all seeen a downturn in the service levels at the majopr city Marriott Hotels. This week there was 1 rep and the front desk, at 4:45p in the Miami airport location. The customer care line rang over 50 times before being answered. This is a changing company and it is not for the best. Let's let them know.
I, like you all, are very disappointed in the changes. I just used points to get a Suite in Cancun. I asked if I had access to the lounge given I am a Platium and she said no. That would be another $125 per day (and that was the discount). Really? I spend over 120 nights in hotels every year. I have heard from business colleagues that other programs are much better. I have hesitated to move. I might explore others given this new change and the fact that Platium means very little to them anymore. Obskously Loyalty will be their new issue, along with the need to update their hotels.
I have always said that loyalty is a two way street. I have been (and continue to be) loyal to Marriott. I have always maintained that I will remain loyal until the partner in the plan tells me not to be.
But now......I look back at just this past year...continued watering down of elite programs, discontinuance of elite benefits ($1000 gift cheques for 135,000 points, etc.), new hotels coming under the Marriott flag and REFUSING to honor the elite benefit program (Autograph Collection, etc. "we're not part of that program"), NO responses to the myriad of suggestions and requests from marriott loyalists (on this site and others), and, dare I say, my recent experiences (horror show) in Aruba and Farmington, CT and now this years (in some cases ridiculous) category increases is sending me a big message.....that maybe my loyalty isn't what they want.
If the new beancounters that run this ship wanted to get a quick 'payback' by de-valuing the Rewards program, they have succeeded in spades with all that they have done this year. But, as many others have so eloquently stated on this post....there are consequences to dumping on your best customers.
I GET THE MESSAGE.
I have to admit, I have always defended Marriott on this site whenever someone would post a petty complaint. Also, I admit I have benefitted from the relaxed standards for becomong Platinum with rollover points, etc. However, this latest across the board jacking up of the categories is a potential game changer . It's like all of a sudden someone came up with the plan of (1) let's make everyone Elite, (2) let's hand out lots of points and free stay certificates, but then lets make being Elite, having points and free stay certificates almost meaningless.
I guess they think sophisticated travelers and longtime loyal Members like us might get upset, but the flip side is a large majority of casual travelers and new Members won't notice and will be enticed by the immediate status and lots of points?
I hope their calculations are wrong and they will find they have seriously misjudged the consequences of this huge degrading of the program.
This is just another indicator that those of us that tally up the points year after year need to find ways to continually use them - or we get stung with these devaluations all of a sudden. This is the second category stretch in 3-4 years and has a greater relative increase to the cost of the lower end properties than the top end. The 5,000 point increase from a level 8 to level 9 is only 12.5% where a category 3 to 4 would be 33%.
So lesson learned - it does not pay to keep a large bank of your miles.
I couldn't agree more. I just read about these changes and popped right over here to see if others had gotten the news--of course you have. How is this anything but undermining the investment we've all made in Marriott, whether it's by many stays and loyalty to the brand or being timeshare owners with "points per week" locked in by contract (of course, _those_ aren't going up)--or those of us who've earned points both ways--while Marriott can devalue those points whenever they choose?
I see that one of the hotels affected is the St. Pancras in London. We stayed there last year. It's a lovely hotel, but 40,000 points a night wasn't enough? Really, Marriott, this is shameful behavior!
We've all made a deal with you. However you want to phrase it and dress it up, you're not honoring the spirit of the deal!
I think that the new Marriott management underestimates the impact of customer loyalty on profitability. Many of us have delivered a significant share of our business due to being recognized as loyal customers. We have selected Marriott properties even when comparable competitors in the area were slightly lower in price. Marriott has obviously decided that loyalty is no longer important, and bean counters are focusing on cost cutting opportunities.
I have observed that frequent contributors to this insiders forum have a great deal of influence on the hotel selection by many of their coworkers. I find that most of the 'new' travelers choose their hotels based primarily on price, while loyal users recognize it is worth paying a little more for consistent quality and benefits. Marriott appears to believe that ignoring their long-term loyal customers will not hurt their profitability, and they may be right in the short-term. However, I think this recent fiasco will be the straw that breaks the back of loyal customers. We will be making our future hotel decisions based only on price, so Marriott will no longer attract 60-90% of our business.
I have four upcoming trips for research projects that involve at least 6 other travelers per trip. I will be sure to select non-Marrriott properties for these trips. Although our 75-100 room nights may not be missed, I think many others will be doing the same thing and this lost revenue will begin to get noticed.
I hope another chain recognizes this as an opportunity to break Marriott's hold on its loyal followers.
We need to stop whining and put our money where our mouth is, meaning actually do something.
So here is what I have done:
1. Just called to cancel an upcoming 32 night residential stay that was timed to coincide with the Megabonus (which should now be renamed the Minibonus since that is what it is worth). I'm rather heading over to Hyatt Place. Will get a Hyatt Diamond match for my (lifetime) Platinum status--and I'm off to a whole new world of being appreciated for my $$$$ spend (plus free breakfasts at every property--including weekends, resorts, and any other exclusions MR randomly comes up with).
2. Canceled my Marriott Rewards Visa card since the level 5 reward night each year is now virtually useless. If I want crappy accommodations--I can always sleep in my yard. No need to pay a hefty annual fee for a useless annual "reward".
You are right! You are so hilarious, LOL.
You should put that under a blog or web site called www.tiredofMARRIOTripoff.com
We're closing this thread in lieu of merging duplicate conversations. But the conversation may continue at New 2013 Prop. Categories Posted in Documents Includes a Category 9!