I must have missed this, but recently, let's say since Jan. 1, there seems to be a new pricing structure when booking on Marriott .com. The advertised price on the web site is often a teaser rate that "changes" to a higher rate on night 2 and sometimes even higher on continuous nights. Example, Night 1... $109... Night 2... $125...Nights 3 & 4.. $135. The advertised price shows up as $109. When you click on the hotel, it exposes the change to $125 for night 2. No mention of the still higher rate until you choose to make the reservation. Then, and only then, does the higher rate for nights 3 and 4 show up. I find this very misleading. Has anyone else noticed this web site pricing format change?
Yes pained, I started observing these 'quirks' in early January. They are to added to the list of treats (although IMO, your example is the most misleading) Marriott has waiting for us in the pricing matrix such as;
1) AAA rates slid under the Advanced Pay category (if checking several props and comparing, it's relatively easy, as shown by Insider postings, to miss this when you decide to go to the 'lowest' price).
2) Cancellation dates being moved back (so, not Advanced Pay, but something lodger better be aware of) - away from 6pm day of; to one, two or three days in advance - buried in the gray box area. Although platinum service line says that they would "no doubt forgive a plat" if he/she cancelled after 4pm the day before - the official policy as read to me by the rep is if it is "until day before", the cancellation must occur before 4pm the day before (official check in time).
3) Parking packages that don't include all of the days. I'm not discussing park and fly, I'm talking the parking packages.
4) Breakfast packages that are priced differently between one and two guests
and of course my bete noire
5) AAA rates higher than the standard rate. I'm talking non-advanced pay, standard rates. With today's technology and software, there is no purpose for having a higher AAA rate than standard other than to mislead the lodger into accidentally paying the higher rate.
There are other slick pricing issues in the grid that I have experienced - but I've written so much about them, I've started to feel like Chicken Little - so I'll stop at 5. It's a new day at Marriott, like Mills Lane the boxing ref always said, "protect yourself at all times".
Pained and Erc,
I noticed these happening about a year ago. It is frustrating, it shows a rate and you go to book and that rate is only for the first day and the rest are higher.
The cancel policy has also been around for a while. I noticed that about a year ago too. For a day before or 2 days before, it doesn't say the time but it tends to be 4pm. It used to be 6pm day of arrival. We have to check our reservations carefully.
By not giving me more time to cancel, I cancelled hotels that I would ahve stayed at but was not sure till the morning of the stay. Thsi has cost Marriott money.
I get excited, for example when I see the starting price at 118 when scrolling down a list of properties in a particular city, only to click on the property rates to realize, "Oh." The 118€was the advance pay rate. The standard rate is more like 139€. Not even close. I guess it takes some getting used to. But if you're not in the habit of paying the advance purchase rate (and IMHO, few are), then you're really not seeing the true rates, when viewing a list of hotels and their starting rates. So the list of rates is really - bogus, for lack of a better descriptor, and not useful.
So the list above doesn't really reflect the true real world prices.
But as far as the split pricing, Pained, I thought that just reflected normal pricing changes say from a weekend rate to a weekday rate or vice versa.
Yes, you're correct, often split pricing is the difference in rates (and it states in orange, "the rate for this room changes...). But I have found when looking for a four night stay Tues - Sat, that Marriott leads with the Friday night rate of $129 and then you see that the first three nights are $239 etc etc, besides being a significant disappointment, it's a waste of time, especially when I used to book 30 or so trips similar to Sledchick 's thorough technique described on http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/12223 (What would you add...)
At the risk of too much info:
There's something to be said for following through on what nuhusker said. I've had similar success with plat reps on that and also have had cases by booking two or more reservations thru the week that have saved money (and so far, didn't have to change rooms).
Here's a current example;
The Fairfield Inn - Washington DC/downtown
The AAA rate for March 25-31 posts at $236 - you click on View Rates and you see in orange this rate changes to $303 (which is what I noted to pluto above) on 3/26 and if you click on Continue (and sign in) it shows the following rates and total:
$1731 pre-tax: but don't stop there
If I booked individual reservations, these are the rates secured by the individual nights:
3/26-28 $303 I then combine the first two rates into one three night reservation.
3.30 $170 By combining the last three nights into one reservation - I get $198 (instead of $293), $198, and $170
$1408 pre-tax (providing another $100+ in tax savings >$400 for the six nights)
No doubt, Marriott, now knowing that we know will change it (they are rocket scientists afterall when it comes to the quantitative analysis of pricing permutations and yes I'm paranoid, but I did lose every airport cat. 4 prop that I hung out at). I'm moving more toward friends and family rates (with the devalued points, the dollar/ points ratio has now leaned toward the dollars advantage and making it worth bugging my friends).
I always expect pricing to be in the country currency of the property.
Also, I noticed that you can no longer click to directly reserve from this page, thus forcing you to go the rates page, with tabs for the various rates and explanations.
True, it is not very intuitive especially for the casual user
You really have to be pretty experienced in using this interface or you get burned.
I wonder if this is intentional?
Or just an oversight?
Actually I have never ever trusted our corporate travel agents. Since they usually don't travel much, they just make reservations by the rules without any thought of how it will playout.
Always make my own reservations, or in a government world where their agent had to do it for you, I held the reservations and sent them the numbers, so they would confirm them. Always made sure I had the lowest rate so they couldn't change them based on finding something lower which might not be to my liking.
usually they are planning trips per procedures, and many have never even made it out of the office, so have no idea what its like to actually take the trip, and the effects of their actions and decisions on that trip for the traveler.
Many corporate travel agents are incentivized for how much they can save the company for their travelers, and contracts are renewable from year to year so they are more interested in satisfynig your company, than how pleasant and employee's travel experience is or is not.
I don't know about the cancellation deal regarding advance purchase rates since I've never used that rate, but the different rates during the course of a stay have been around for a while I believe. One time when I saw that change during my desired stay, I called customer service who inturn called the hotel directly for me and was able to get the lower rate for all days of the stay.
I have noticed that Marriott only allows a 'special rate' for a certain amount of nights.
For example: I was looking to stay at the Marriott Eastside in NYC (we were there a week ago) and the best rate was the 'senior rate'. When I went to book it the rate changed to a rate that was over $100 higher than the senior amount quoted with a notation that 'this rate changes to $----- on this night. To get around that I only booked the nights I could get the lower senior rate for. As I kept trying to book the senior rate for whatever amount of time they would allow the booking for it turned out that the max time for the senior rate they allowed was 3 days. I booked the three days. I then went to checking AAA, regular rates and other options. I finally got, at a later date, a AAA rate that was the same as the senior rate and I booked it for the remainder of our time in NYC. They would still only allow three days for any 'discounted' rate (AAA, senior). Doing a 'combo' job got me that same rate for the time I was there. However, if I had booked the senior rate for the entire time my bill would have been over $400 higher for the four extra days.
I could share a story similar to Tef's and Erc's as well, insofar as messing around with the dates and making multiple reservations to accomplish just one stay in order to make the rates lean to my advantage. But what a complete pain! I will try Husker's game plan in the future and see what it might yield. Thanks Husker.
Erc, what is the 'friend and family rate?'
The Marriott Friends and Family rate is a discounted rate provided to Marriott employees for their friends and entered into the corp/promotional code box. Like, AAA, senior rate, or member offers, it is not always offered at every property every night. The rate is not eligible for points (elite benefits not eligible) and can range anywhere from $15 less to some as high as $40 less a night. I've always avoided it in the past because A) I didn't want to mess with my buddies always getting the form and B) points and elite benefits often offset the savings.
The real gold mine is Associate rate (not available to use by us regular schmoes). I have sometime's stayed with my fellow coaches (Marriott employees) when we went to a ballgame, either college or pro - that rascal can make a $179 room a $49 steal (I usually treat for dinner).
And the granddaddy of them all is the Quarter Century Club (like michellel so deservedly owns membership in); associates with 25 or more years get to stay at every property (when available and they are available 90% of the time) three free weekend nights PER YEAR - yeah baby!
Note: whereas the customer service rep can sometimes match the going rate for one night for several nights - it's most likely only allowed because of the rates being available (the multi-reservation technique), many times they can't budge. Whereas I haven't found a time where the rep matched the price and it was not there on my own, I have experienced examples where the rep couldn't/wouldn't match and I found a cheaper combo. How bad do you want it? I find the answer nowadays, is less and less.
As Erc says it is usually not that great of a discount. You have to ask your friend and they print and sign a form and it has a close expiration date. I had one given to me and as it got closer found that it had expired. Before I bothered my friend, I checked to see what was available and found a rate not that much higher and I got points and I was working on a Megabonus so I just booked myself and felt that I came out better.
I agree! It seems as though the pricing situation has really gone wacko since last fall. That's when I started noticing the changes in pricing on a multi night stay really start ramping up. Seems as though no matter what rate or time frame one books that extends beyond three days the pricing changes....and NOT in a good way for the customer.
Might be me or my ancient tech skills but I have seen this appear for a while longer. If you choose "My dates are flexible" you get quite a few prices shown, and each per day or by amount of time you choose. Again, I think that the rewards points needed to stay at a place should fluctuate up or down depending on the RACK rate for the night!
What I was discussing was not the 'dates are flexible' option (pained can speak for himself). It was the straight on specific date range for a specific trip (as opposed to a possible trip based on best prices, where I am more willing to spend time shopping around the matrix of prices). The aggravation factor increases when I want to go to, say for example, Chicago for a meeting with a specific date and the ten or so properties quote a rate (the lowest one) that is representative of only one of the four or five nights. Then to compound the insult, I discover (as my Fairfield example above showed) that the package of days that caught my attention because of the misleading lowest price is also misstating the net price if I craft the stay in a different fashion. If this relatively new form of merchandising dynamic pricing (the merchandising style is relatively new - pained's post, the fluidity of price has been around a bit longer) is going to become the norm, then I would at least want Marriott to do something like expedia/orbitz/priceline (or wherever I saw it, I'm almost exclusively a marriott.com shopper) where they state an average nightly price for the stay and then based on my interest of the average price, I can see the specific nightly rates. Once again, in my opinion, Marriott is being too cute with their techniques, bringing me to your next thought, which three years ago I would have strongly endorse (now, I'm even reluctant to suggest it).
As logical as you reward point pricing is, common sense isn't so common these days when it comes to interacting with Marriott. My very legitimate concern, given the way things have been trending, would be if rewards points were based on rack rate for the night, the current pricing of points would be the floor and the increase of rates would only lead to an increase of point requirements (along the line of our previously discussed 'airline' style pricing), so as I have written several times before, I've stop making 'logical suggestions' because the "asset managers" (a great term from your loyalty article) take our good faith suggestions and aggressively tweak them to their advantage at our expense.
Ok, envious of your recent desert stay, I've got snow to remove, hasta luego mi amigo.
Ok tef as a lifetime New Englander, who's paid his dues, you get one 'freebie', so when you're on the 19th hole and reading this, know that all is forgiven.
Actually the hard work had yet to begin, I was just temporarily clearing the stoop for a visiting neighbor (we were charting distribution of Nationals tickets).
It's now coming down bigboy style (local DC standards, of course) and we're projected for 8-10 out here. Hope you had a great time, I'll be thinking of you come hurricane season !
Alice plays golf here, so I got that reference and the Karate Kid was among the last of the non-CGI movies. That good enough?
I think any lodging company would be crazy NOT to shop the competition to see pricing night by night, and makje adjustments on the fly. For example, business hotels typically have no loads on Friday and Saturday so rather than have an empty room why not discount? Similarly time of arrival may cause a lowering of rates, as in arrive at 10 pm and find that the rate can be less things.
So like the airlines hotels have discovered they can sell a product with no fixed price at all, just a sliding scale of prices based on demand and competition.
Heck, I knew a man about town (world) like yourself would know the references, regardless of age (just don't start quoting me Zasu Pitts lines).
My comment about Marriott being too cute for my tastes was in regard to their merchandising - not their pricing. As a business operator, I respect the desire to capture incremental profits, and as a shareholder, I want them to pursue max roi, for them and me (while still being able to occasionally disagree with their tactics), and besides, I'm an over the hill competitor that loves taking on the challenge of finding deals against the backdrop of global revenue managers who worked on SDI, sort of like reading your books - an enjoyable brainfreeze
Aha,m another reference: I assume you meant SDI and the SDIO. General Jim Abrahamson of SDI and were 'buds" back in the day, came to work at the same very early hour and walked out about 13 hours later. WHen conditions permitted. At times they did not.
I knew that it was merchandising that you referred to but pricing is the handmaiden of merchandising. Selling a product includes the price calculus. A good product at a fair price (excluding Rolex and the like) will always gain market share. I fear the Marriott is so big that it takes many of us for granted and that is too bad. As Cap Weinberger used to day, "we'll see if that works."
Several years back, I went into a really nice HI in Little Rock, AR that had rates higher than what my friend and I wanted to pay. I glanced up at a bulletin board in an office off the front desk and saw a rate for "Last resort, about to walk to leave". They didn't offer it to us, but when we got outside, I told Jackie what I'd seen and we went back in, asked about the rate, and got it. It was a really nice room. I think it was the hotel Clinton stayed in because there was a room named for him there.
I just realized to day that not only do the rates fluctuate between days, but but the rate on a given day fluctuates depending on how you search for it.
I was wanting to compare daily rates, so I did a flexible date search so it would show me the rates for the entire month. Depending on the # of nights I selected and the date I entered in date field the prices changed.
Oh Grasshopper (Kwai Chang Caine reference that only old fart tv aficionados like myself will get), your pricing joys and headaches are just beginning. As my pal Alice Cooper, (again another reference only those that know about phone booths might get) used to sing, Welcome to my nightmare.
To illustrate my point... The 2 screenshots below are actually in reverse order. I initially searched for 2 nights 4/3 & 4/4 and got 10003 on 4/3 changing to 1215.50 on 4/4. I changed to a flexible date search and got the same result (bottom screenshot). Then I changed to just 1 night flexible date & suddenly 4/4 is only 1003 also (upper screenshot).
Just now, after typing the above I decided to try turning off the flexible date search. 4/3 - 4/4 shows 1003, 4/4 - 4/5 shows 1003, & even 4/3 - 4/5 shows 1003 for both nights with no rate change.
ProTip: Even if you don't qualify for a special rate go ahead & check one of them. When I did, I all of a sudden had a "Best Rate" in addition to the special rate and all of the regular rates. In some cases it was better than the special rate I selected, but in all (very small sample) cases it was better than the regular rates if you just chose "None".
I'll tell you what (if I may), 7,
If you are going to be in Vienna starting on May 30th, and thinking about the IRS Renaissance, they have a European Spring Promotion going on for specific dates at a rate of 101€/night. You'd better snag it right away, and once you've fixed your reservation, don't dare change it else you may lose that rate. It shows different rates on the flex calendar, but if you select May 30th and enter your checkout date, then it will give you all of your nights at that rate (that's what I did when I tried it). Good luck.
I've been on the reservation engine this morning trying to fix our reservation for that property, and you wouldn't believe all of the interesting things that popped up and changed, based on how I input my request (flex dates vs. specific dates, one room vs. two rooms, single night vs. contiguous nights, discount codes, etc.) all manner of different things came up. Then an hour later it all changed. Why does making a reservation have to be so stressful? I finally settled on the Senior rate (my mom qualifies us) for the first three nights, which is the same rate as the advance purchase/no refund rate, only without the advance purchase/no refund hassle and then the last night at the European Spring Rate. And you can best bet I'm not touching that thing. I'm not going to even look at it funny.
It's like getting into a boxing match or playing a computer game or even slots or something. Really, me and all of my frustration have better things to do! It's the same thing with purchasing airline tickets.
I would much prefer a system and web page that listed all rates for each date, even those requiring proof, and also a link on that page (not another) to nearby hotels that offer the rates which might be lower. I am surprised that one of the web-based consolidators do not offer this service yet.
Not the pricing, but how it's presented in such a convoluted fashion that you have to practically engage in a complicated treasure hunt to find the best overall price for a stay. It's not straight forward at all, but hidden underneath layers of useless data, especially if you use the flexible dates calendar. This business of having to entering all manner and number of variable permutations to find the sweetest spot (bottom line) is ridiculous. You shouldn't have to enter dates and promotion codes 5 different ways from Sunday to get the best price for a given day or for an overall stay. That's what my classless post was referring to. Again. Sorry. (Sort of).
Me, too. (Using phone.)
A few days ago, I tried booking a room online. There were two bedding types for the same rate and the online wouldn't let me guarantee the bedding arrangement we wanted. It was king or 2 queen. Since I don't know the arrangement there, I wanted 2 queen for the 3 of us. The 866 # guaranteed the queens, but then put in 1 person. I tried to modify that from 1 to 3 online, but it wouldn't change it for me when the confirmation came. I had to call back to get it changed to make sure they didn't change the bedding arrangement on us if they didn't think we would need it. That's happened a few too many times at various places.
And remember, this was only to capture the 'eureka' moment on Marriott.com. We were willing to trade off potential savings with third party travel sites for what we thought was at least a 'fair' (as defined as - straightforward, no shenigans, ooga booga, gotcha pricing quirks) price from the organization that we apparently (recently - any longer, shame on us) naively dealt with in a good faith manner. We are awarded for that loyalty by pricing that is at best, misleading, and in some cases, outright deceptive. Anything that moves pluto to using the number caps instead of letters, is really pushing the envelop when it comes to customer relations - I rest my case.
Oh mighty jedi, I bow before you. "If no mistake you have made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play".
Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys, yes; Southside Johnny (and the boss) and the Stone Pony, yes;
I meant Ellerbee and coin, but knowing you, you probably have surveillance pictures from the seventies of the coinman sipping a draft with John Cafferty, so I'll yield and return the readers back to their regularly scheduled programming - Marriott Split Pricing (besides there's a sale on at Macy's and I need some dark slacks for my London trip - want to fit in, don't you know!).
I know the capability to compare rates easily is both misleading and annoying!
With that said, we just have to be careful and check the various Marriott rates out, and since we are going to all that effort to check multiple rates on multiple properties, its just a short step to compare it with non-Marriott options as well. Unfrotunately it is an industry standard and used by throughout the industry. I go through the same thing with cruise pricing, 3rd party resellers, etc.
I hate to sound repetitive here, but we need to stay focused on the point devaluation.
If you haven't got enough points now for the Marriott options in moderately priced European cities like Vienna, it will certainly be more expensive in Paris, London, Rome, etc.
After the devaluation, it will be much worse!
I guess I am not fully understanding what you mean by, "additional money out of pocket....as much as $100/nite"
I am looking at my current reservation, which is unfortunately only one night, but the confirmation gives the date, the amount per night, and the rate, as well as a note that I need my AAA membership card.
For a reservation where there are different rates, does it list each day and the different rate that is being used? Or are you only finding this out when you get your bill at the end of the stay?
Also, I just had to extend my last stay by 1 nite. When I called down and asked for the extra night, I also asked they confirm it at the same rate to avoid any surprises in the bill.
I will have to pay more attention the next time I have a multi-night, multi-rate booking!
I do seem to recall this happening once where I had a very low price, but the total was higher than nights times the rates, it seemed odd, and when I checked it out, it turns out that the lower rate was not available all nights.
What I can't remember is how much effort I had to put into it to figure it out, and could I have missed it if I was in a hurry.
The other concern I have is that the phone & notepad interfaces are different than the computer interface for many applications I use. When I am on my Nook using WiFi, I don't always see all fields at many web sites.
I am wondering if this contributing to the differences in our perceptions?
We all might be seeing something different depending on the device we use to access the MI website.
Its like the story of the 99 blind men and the elephant!
Oh I'm with you all the way on checking rates, properties, and non-Marriotts (more now than ever). As far as point devaluation, I was fortunate enough to have long ago 'hedged' my position in Marriott rewards points, never possessing a balance over 250,000 (and usually under 175k) by booking ever increasing Cat.8 props, five nights for four, the way a corporate officer sells his company stock - in a regularly scheduled, quarterly/annual fashion. Also the good news for me is that I'm a baseball diamond rat, so once I knock off London and Australia (done other european cities that I wanted), I'm as happy as Eddie Money in a travel agency banging around North America.
As Cuba Gooding's character, Rod Tidwell said in Jerry Maguire, "Show me the money!" - I've now moved to a cash cost type analysis, devaluing the points myself. Booking only Marriott charges on my Marriott card, heavier use of friends and family rates, other venues of lodging (VRBO, cruises, friends, and even yes, competitors), and I'm sucking down every wine and cheese welcome gift before they change that to "Welcome Mr. Plat, would you like free water in the gym or free water at the bar?".
I will of course support every Insiders' efforts on the point devaluation battle with a wry comment here and there, but I'm waving the white flag on that one and investing my time taking on THE MAN in that infamous Marriott pricing grid. Although I completely agree with shoeman's wise statement, of getting a price you like and feeling satisfied; I must admit, there's nothing sweeter than snagging a rate and seeing it disappear, never to be seen that low again, the subversive in me is satisfied with the ever so brief feeling of beating the system (that pluto so crisply articulated above).
Very admirable management of points.
I also have been using my points, maybe not as strategically as you are.
What I am concerned about is the future though of points and certificate earnings.
What we earn in the future has less value and less use.
Any ideas on how to deal with this problem
My best advice would be to follow a similar strategy for any inflationary times, which given your experience and street smarts, you are superbly equipped to implement;
1) Continue being smart about how you earn and invest your points - don't waste $$$ just for points
2) Continue knowing all the 'best' opportunities out there for your points - Insiders ideas, seasonal awards, elite offers (like gift card bonuses, and then use the gift cards on lower point paying items like Res. Inns or parking or even taxes if you want to get obsessive!), your clever shopping strategies (of things you were going to buy anyway, grab those points, that's actually right out of your own playbook), etc etc
3) Certainly close on any current deal by May 15th, if in doubt, book the questionable deals as well, since currently you can book without point balance, and given your customer service rep phone skills, you might even be able to nudge a day or two (but if you think not - book seven or eight days and move back to five or six; the ol' blind date rule - "dress six, pick one"
4) Keep your time horizon tight, certainly before the next inevitable devaluation
5) And most of all, focus on the wonderful joys of your life - the hell with these silly points, aren't we fortunate if that's our biggest headache in our 'Golden Years' (pipe down kharada)
Go man, go