Even though this might get threaded in the larger rewards discussion, I thought it was worthy of a new thread. I just got this email from Hilton announcing their move to 10 reward categories, seasonal point variation, and a 5th night free "bone" in the mix. You can find the announcement here: 2013 Program Changes
So before everyone starts bolting for other programs, you might want to wait until the follow the leader syndrome cools down and Starwood and Hyatt announce their devaluation. I do love (not) the marketing spin Hilton puts on their claim that ten categories are necessary to "account for all of the new hotels and resorts that have opened in the past few years." Can't they be more creative than that?
I think none of the major travel providers recognize the competitive edge that an effective customer loyalty program creates. Marriott had this edge for many years but have lost it with the new focus on costs rather than incremental value. Hilton had an opportunity to attract a large number of disgruntled Marriott loyal customers. They appear to have other priorities. The result of these policies is that customers will now make their decisions based primarily on price, which will lower corporate profitability in the long term because there is little value now associated with the brands.
Yeah. I just got my Terms and Notices in email now. That figures. Would like to state for the record that it does not make me feel much "better" about what Marriott did. Both avenues are expected I guess. As toader says, I do not care much for the reasoning behind the changes.
Also for those who may not already know this: Last month Priority Club Rewards raised the amount of points necessary for a rewards night at many of their hotels (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, HIE, etc.) For example, the Crowne Plaza in downtown Seattle increased by 10k points from 25,000 to 35,000 pts/night and the Willard Intercontinental in DC increased from 40,000 to 50,000. (These were 2 of my favorites.) Some of these changes don't take effect until sometime in March (I think), others have already increased. So, yep, it seems to be happening across the board....
and they are all watching each other and copying!
I have never liked any of the other hotel loyalty programs which is why if the NEW MARRIOTT continues down this path, I will probably go back to interesting independents like I did in the days when marriott did not have a hotel everywhere.
I agree also..Just because Hilton jilts their loyal customers is no reason why Marriott should follow suit..Just think How much business Marriott would have generated from Hilton elites if they kept their program status quo!!! If I did not know better, my guess is Marriott had inside information that Hilton was going to implement this change!!
Oh but they do and will:
Probably someone at Marriott corp helped dream those up.
Agreed, but I LIKE the Delta changes made as of 2014. They really are awarding their best customers and frequent flyers, and weeding out those who do lots of cheap end-of-year mileage runs as well as buying promo items in bulk (see FlyerTalk if you want to know what I'm talking about) on places like SkyMall to get huge amounts of points then re-selling them. (One example was someone who bought 20 Samsung Galaxies, got a huge number of bonus miles, and actually sold them for a profit.) To me that is unethical at the very least.
Delta will be instituting a policy that definitely rewards high tier and high spender levels more -- which means, as Shoeman has often said -- that there is a better chance of getting the upgrades, etc. They haven't figured out some of the kinks (i.e. the SkyTeam partners), but there's a year to go before it happens.
Any idea how so sort out those who do end of the year mileage runs? I meet a man in Sydney who was doing that on United. He paid $600 for rd trip from Denver. Since he had status, he was given the extra legroom seats. He stayed for 5 nights. He said that got him status for the next year. I suppose this is what you mean.
They get to set the rules. We choose whether or not to take them. While I plan to continue to be part of this forum for a long time, I expect much less Marriott hotel parts of that except for my favorites, who don't ding me for every single thing but reward me for coming back.
This is what I just don't get. I understand bottom lines. But when executives in a service industry decide a bottom line needs to come at the expense of the people who have essentially underwritten it, I have a problem. And it does make me mad.
Sure, Marriott, other hotels, and the airlines have the right according to their rules to change their terms almost at a moment's notice. But if any of you are a fan of Randy Petersen (editor of InsiderFlyer, a great magazine for getting extra rewards), you'll know that it's unlikely (except for mergers) that any airline at least can do away with its FF program. Because they'll experience even more wrath than we are expressing right here right now on MRI.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the chicken and the egg situation we are faced with.
Marriott grew to what it is now because of its loyalty program. I personally have been in it 30+ years, and for most of that time it remain constant.
Next, all the competitiion starts to emulate the Marriott program in bits and pieces and starts attracting more customers, though less loyal acording to the D&T study.
Then Marriott decides to emulate its competition and offer less after so many years!
This is why your piece on 'chains' resonated so much with me.
If you look at Flyertalk.com, that's not the usual way mileage runs work. I did one in my whole life - BGR to BOS return same day, just to keep my high elite level. But I did actually fly. There is no obvious way (IMHO) to sort out the mileage runs at the end of the year (an example might be someone who finds low fares from LGA-Dulles-ATL-SEA-LAX-SLC-ATL-DTW-LGA). I don't know if my made up example actually would work, but when you read Delta's Flyertalk section, it seems like a whole lot of people have been gaming the system. When I took that one flight, 5 or 6 yrs ago, I needed 500 miles to reach Platinum, so I flew to BOS, had fun, and came home the same day. But while some might argue that I am no better than the example I gave, my point is that I had already accumulated at least 74,500 miles that year (that was before my Delta Amex Reserve card).
If someone had the guts to do that from Australia and then stayed 5 nights, that wouldn't count as a mileage run, but rather a regular trip, though when you mentioned Denver I wasn't sure.
What I really mean, and what the new and wonderful Delta site shows you (I have no family members and no personal connections to Delta, just plain old-fashioned loyalty because I've been treated wonderfully for almost 40 years) is a circle chart (among many other things) that shows your flights as a part of the pie, Amex Skymiles spending as part, and other Amex shopping spending as the rest.
I admit I was completely disgusted when SkyMall did a promotion where you got 25,000 Skymiles for every order over $500. I actually bought the stuff and use it in my apartment or teaching. But the threads, if you go way back, show how many people were using it to stock up on stuff to resell at same or above price, while pocketing enormous amounts of miles. The earlier example of a possible late December flight at cheap rates is the same thing, though at least less unethical in my view since you have to fly.
What I love about Delta (besides endless free trips to Europe and the Middle East, with over 500,000 unused miles) is that I think they might have figured out the perfect 'in-between'. I.E., cut out the people who are truly gaming the system. Now if you did fly all those hypothetical miles in December and made Silver, Gold, Plat or Diamond, then you get it and I have no problem with that. But by adding the spending component or AMEX card spending, you cut a lot of that out for highest levels, so that those of us who do about 100,000+ miles a year actually get rewarded.
This is hard to explain, but I've done my best. Thanks for asking! And I will always be loyal to Delta (I know others are not) because even when I was 20 they treated me great, and it's only gotten better. When I grew up in Pa, Allegheny AIrlines became known as Agony Airlines and thereafter as USAIR, and soon will be part of a larger airline.
It also depends where you fly. My flights are almost entirely eastward to Europe or the Middle East, though I often fly west (in order to enjoy DTW's great Sky Club and not have to deal with NYC airports). One of my best friends is an East Asian historian who goes entirely to Japan and China, so he's a United person. So it depends on your flying patterns.
Delta is a good program, but not great since the early ninety's. I am a Plat for life, Flying Colonel, 3MM, and a family member (my father-in-law retired as a senior captain). Delta is very good about taking care of the Plats and diamonds, both current and Lifetime. However, if you look closely at the award charts and decriptions of the future program, you will find that they are taking good care of the current fliers, while lessening the awards to the lifetime members. (it takes 1 million miles to make silver for life, 2 mm for life gold, 3 mm for life plat, and I haven't seen an indication for life diamond, These are flying miles, award, partner, and bonus do not count towards the MM status) . I have friends that are silver for life, that have almost no benefits left, because they are no longer flying frequently. And the Silver Medallion benefits are also going down the tubes
Delta is very much a company that adopts the philosphy of "what have you done for me lately".
I've been Platinum or above for most of my Delta miles, though obviously as I age (I'll be 70 in less than 10 yrs!) I might have to rely on Silver Lifetime. But the Amex spending part of the new system (which Delta and Amex obviously worked out seriously) works completely for me. GemPrincess can attest to how much you can get out of Amex Skymiles card shopping if you also fly a lot and use the card a lot.
I'm not saying it's the end all and be all for everyone, but it really works for me.
Very true ProfC
I don't even fly Delta, but the shopping program is so lucrative, that I have been participating ever since ProfC explained it. I did look at the United plan, and tested it out but it was not so good. On the other hand I get alot of United points by participating in surveys, and for my charitable contributions. I might actually have more United miles this way than from my flying as most of it is short hops, and I use trains more than planes these days.
There actually is a chain that does charge, but their prices are so rock bottom, you expect this.
Chain was actually recommended to me by a priest I met on my Norway Fjords cruise as something the church uses when priests need to travel and they are out of space at church facilities.
He said they are clean, comfortable and safe.
Many so-called extras we're talking about are courtesies that we get from time to time, and appreciate. I do not automatically ask for special treatment, does anyone else? No better way to alienate a server in a restaurant or an associate in a hotel than to be a bothersome elite (ist). We hope, at least I hope, that our recognition comes from our demonstrated loyalty to a hotel, a restaurant, a company.
Like Gem, the preferences I have listed are actually almost always meticulously paid attention to. I have indicated extra pillows in there which I am usually loaded up on, and I have a refrigerator listed in there also, and almost without exception, one is usually there for me, even if it is brought up and sat in the middle of the floor!
Cannot say anything bad about Marriott on this one.
I am going to try and look at all of the positive things Marriott does for me for awhile. All of this bashing is starting to make my head spin, and is just depressing overall. I like to think about good things and be positive, then usually positive things happen for me!
-Al Be Happy!
Can't help myself from responding that way. As a Delta high elite, I've never gotten charged anything for anything. I just got my 2013 packet today including my certificates to reward especially good service (Marriott should consider that -- it is more than just a 'good job' compliment and the people I've given them to in the past have practically fawned over me). I also got all my 'have a drink on us' certificates, but still haven't used the ones that don't expire till Dec. 2013 because I always get upgraded in the US and they're free on international flights. Between the status level and the Amex Reserve card, I get SkyClub access all over the world (or partner lounge, where I can at least get the breakfast that the local Marriott didn't give me!), check almost as many bags as I want (though I almost never check any), plus lots of MQMs for spending on the Amex card.
So being an elite does count, at least on Delta, and if you have their Amex Reserve or other cards, you get noticed. I've talked to a number of flight attendants (including the one from the medical emergency that recently landed me in Bangor before going on to Boston...then having to return via bus to Waterville), and they KNOW exactly who you are in terms of status, which Amex card you have etc. I have not flown a single flight recently on Delta or KLM where the flight attendant has not come up to me and addressed me by name and asked if they could do anything for me. (And they do, like getting me business class wine, though I only ever fly business class on rewards tickets.)
So there are ways of doing these things and then ways of not doing them.
I've already made up my mind. Today in my email, I found an offer to buy back my Platinum status (I have not earned it, though had dollar calculations been involved I probably would have) for 40,000 pts. I looked at it, smiled, and deleted. No thanks! I didn't earn Platinum status last year, so I don't expect it to be my right at all.
But with these changes, I am going more and more down the path of independent and boutique hotels. They've made me happier, been better located, in general treated me better (even when I didn't book with them directly), and I get all the perks that Marriott has taken away. Even some booking sites like expedia do track and give you points.
It's a no brainer for me, and I will keep my 40,000 and the rest and use them somewhere, some time. (I feel a song coming on...)
Well that's the mark of a great airline and a greater program to reward loyalty! Delta gets high marks for that, and of course, I'd award you as well given your loyalty to them. I understand the need to appreciate and be appreciated in any relationship (business that is) and Delta seems to have figured it out. I saw my first ever black AMEX, the Carbon Fiber one, at the AT&T the other day. A person misplaced it in the Beemer that I was squiring him around in. He thanbked me and offered a reward, which I declined, and told him that I was there to serve (I am so humble) him not to be given a tip!!! Now that I have laid bare my soul, I admit that the distinctions between good loyalty and bad loyalty programs is getting easier to spot. While some go the extra mile, others are backing up. Stay with Delta--they seem to be an excellent partner.
We stayed at a Ramada in Columbia, SC once when our electricity went out and they charged $2 for having a phone in the room, even though we didn't use it.
I haven't stayed at a Ramada since then. They did have a delicious, gourmet luncheon buffet for about $6 that everyone in the area liked to eat at, so I ate there many times.
That one sold to a Columbia Inn that remodeled it and then sold it to Holiday Inn a few years back.
I just thought it was bad to charge for even having a phone in the room.
I think though that we should back off a little. We are complaining that we are not getting the "extras" and the "gifts" and "bonuses". There is a reason that they are so named. They are gifts, extras, and bonuses. We have not paid for them, we have "earned" them according to the rules that Marriott put forth, so they appear to be ours.
However, Marriott, once you put forth the rules for earning said awards, you cause great disgruntlement when you change them. At least you gave us a decent time period in which to react (unlike Hilton and others).
Everybody remember that it is Marriott's business to furnish us with a good place to lay our heads, everything else is a bonus for us. However Marriott, you must remain cognizant of what the competition is doing, or you will be left behind.
I would add one addendum to this,
and that is, remembering why customers selected Marriott and remained loyal over the years, so that Marriott did surpass the competition, and become an industry leader that the competition is now trying to emulate.
This has set customer expectations, so its a quid pro quo situation.
According to a Deloitte & Touche study, not all hotel brands can make this statement about customer loyalty.
But you do agree that it's Marriott's program, and regardless of how they got to where they're at today, it's their prerogative to change it as they deem fit to their own advantage, right? And that our expectations based on past use are no indicator of future satisfaction, right? Otherwise, all of my stays would rank right up there with Harbor Beach Resort. That's just my opinion to counter those who find P&M satisfying.
Yes, and No. Yes, it is their program and they can do anything the Terms & Conditions says they can do such as change it at any time. But NO, because I DO expect past experiences to be a reasonable predictor of future satisfaction - THAT is what a BRAND is all about! If past satisfaction didn't somewhat predict future satisfaction, i.e., it is totally random, then why stay with 1 brand at all? Same appplies to fast food outlets, cars, coffee houses, clothing, etc. Consumer experiences are NOT like an investment in the stock market where "past performance is not a predictor future performance".
With category increases for 36% of all Marriotts, this is essentially price inflation with points instead of dollars, and perhaps should be factored into government's CPI calculations! MR should simultaneously raise the category limits on Mega Bonus awards from 4 to 5, and on the annual MR credit card award from 5 to 6. Virtually every Marriott I stay at has had an increase that renders the certificates useless, i.e., h\otels went from 4 to 5 (eliminates MegaBonus) or from 5 to 6 (eliminates credit card awards)
Since we earned our points under the old rules, we should be able to redeem the the points already earned at the current levels. I wouldn't be upset if Marriott gave me five years to use the points already earned at the current level. This is similar to what many of the airlines did when they significantly changed their programs. The old and new points could easily be tracked separately.
I consider the loyalty programs to be similar to consumer promotions and rebates. You are given an incentive with a reward in mind. You shouldn't be able to change that reward once people have earned it under the original offer. You can change future offers, but should honor what has already been earned. This would be a fair and ethical solution.
That all makes sense, thanks Superchief1. Also, if I earned the points a few years before i redeem them, then that's like an interest-free loan for Marriott, especially if they got cash from Chase for credit card points, but didn't have to deliver the room for several years. They should either (1) give you the reward you earned when it was earned at original category (like you suggest), or (2) credit "interest" in the form of more points if they are going to devalue points by raising the number required for a given room.
I am sure thats true but do they actually do it. With Hilton a few years ago with about 2 months to go i got an e mail telling me i would disappear from the system if i didn't stay within two months. i did stay but sure enough ten months later got the same e mail . i decided to cash out my points to get golf clubs and haven't stayed since. By the way I dont stay at hyatt very often ( every other year ) but have never been treatened with cancellation .
While working on plans to go to Iceland, I did look into the Hilton as there is no Marriott, and the Hilton was recommended to me. I couldn't even find my Hilton Honors number so I called support. They were the ones that told me that the account was archived but they would restore it. They also told me I had lost my points which was a foolish thing to do as it only made me mad, and it had been so long I didn't even remember I had points.
I had something similar with United. I had lifetime miles that never expired and they changed it. I did not receive the notification. Later I transferred some miles there from Marriott and instead of putting them in my old account they opened a new one. I was using that one and thus had activity. They closed the old because of no activity. I tried to explain but no one would listen. I never got them back.
I sympathize as I am not a united fan, but have no choice now that they have absorbed continental which I really liked as an airline.
I stopped flying with them in the 90s even though they were a preferred provider because of alot of problems I had with them, and instead used Continental, Northwest and US Air. Sadly, none are independent anymore.