Here is what we, as loyal Marriott Members have lost in the last 2 -3 years
Devaluation of our points
Loss of elite $1,000 gift checks
No breakfast on weekends in USA/CDA
Lack of recogniton of Silver/Gold/Palt/PP/LP status at most full service and other Marriott's
Upgrades - not happening
BOGO's - BoGONE
Courtyards - no more free coffee in lobby, awful microwaved Breakfast at exhorbitant prices
Loss of AA as a partner for travel packages
Making changes based on customer input (really? where do you find these customers - they must be the same dead people who vote in Chicago elections, where the slogan is vote early and often - and no offense to Chicagoan's, I lived there and love the city, just not its corrupt political machine)
And the list goes on. Others, please add as you see fit.
My only point, to Michelle, community manager and others is this is not unnoticed, we are growing resentful. What do we have in return:
4th night free on redemptions
clarity on lifetime status, which most properties dont care about, dont recognize and its become a big "so what"
free internet for gold/plat - its the slowest conx, so its really not worth much
Seems like, in my accountant view, the losses outnumber the gains. The scale is now tilted away from your most loyal, caring members, who spend big, and often.
It seems like no suggestion made on this board ever gets adopted, and while we may be impatient, we do watch and wait. Marriott management should start to worry, because that leaking sound being hear is your most loyal members straying, going to Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt and others.
I strongly suggest a true "voice of the customer" survey, ask us what we want, what we would pay for, what perks are important to us, BY BRAND. Show us the results. Make sure you get the people who post here, we are the voice of those who dont post, and those who just lurk.
We know you and the properties need to make a profit. We ask that you really think long and hard about what you have done, and where can you give back what you took away, things that were popular, that we all enjoyed, that made your program WHAT IT WAS and COULD BE, BUT ISN"T RIGHT NOW.
Other insiders, add your commets, your voice, your views. Dissent is only effective if its fresh continuous and widespread (ask the Occupy Wall Street Crowd). We have the power of the purse, and we can exercise it. We have a choice in hotels, and we will start to make it. Marritt, you cannot say you havent been warned.
Don't think for one minute that Marriott is the only one devaluing its redemptions schedules: more points required to get the same stay this year that last year required fewer; however, take it from me, as a member of several loyalty programs, Marriott has not gouged its loyal customers nearly so much as, for example, the Priority Club has. Hilton has recently devalued its program as well, and, in some cases, it will require 100% more points to redeem for a room this year than last. The simple fact is that all the hotel loyalty programs are like the airlines: someone tries to raise prices on flights, waiting for others to follow, and if none do, the price increase doesn't stick. They are different in one regard, however, and that is that the hotel programs already have your dollars when they credit your program with points. They are managing their business by the balance sheet, not the income statement. So, when one program devalues its program, as did Priority Club at the first of the year, then, Marriott, Hilton, etc., etc., all do the same. What they do do, however--all of them--is anger their repeat business customers with their actions. And, they know that for those who've been loyal to one brand get so angry that they leave and go to another hotel brand . . . but . . . guess what . . . that customer that just left is replaced by the customer from the other brand who got so angry that he left his brand because they've gigged him after his being so loyal for so many years. So, it's a lousy deal, but, the Marriott is the least abusive on devaluing its program of all the hotel affinity programs to which I belong. That's my 2 cents.
I agree with everything you wrote, and throughout my many posts have actually written each of your comments. What puzzles me (and granted it appears Insiders are divided over this) is why a frequent traveler program labeled as 'least abusive' deserves a Freddie vote. Agreeing with you that Marriott may be the least abusive program (of programs I know - those that I don't, I don't feel qualified to vote upon), I withheld my vote, not to 'sting' Marriott, but so as to avoid showing any kind of acceptance. I must say, I was very tempted to vote for Hyatt or Hilton just for the hopes of denying Marriott bragging rights, but I invested the time I would have spent going thru the ballot into finding a great rate at the Chicago SpringHill over Thanksgiving instead.
Marriott, IMO, remains the best hotel chain, but I'm not going to smooch them over their Rewards program. Man the typing pitchforks, I'm storming the cybercastle!
There are many good points being made in this post. In the end, it is what matters MOST to the frequent traveler and loyalist which ends up guiding the customer to the brand he/she wishes to patronize regularly.
For me, if cost-of-stay were the driving factor, I would use hotwire and take my chances on the lodging giving little credence to points earned or not earned. Consider the average hotel point value (all the major programs) and you will calculate a value of somewhere between (being generous) 2-3 cents. So if I spend $1000 and earn 20K points (Visa, PP status bonus, and a megabonus proration), my "earnings" are about $60, maximum value. Had I used hotwire, I most likely would have saved $300-$400 on the same stay, implying I am throwing away good money. Think about what that means - if I were to save $300 a week on my 50 weeks a year, I could afford one heck-of-a-good vacation on $15K of cash and not turning in points.So what keeps me from using hotwire?
LOYALTY PERKS and CONSISTENCY OF BRAND - these are my decision factors. So when Marriott or any other brand take away important perks (many outlined above), I get irritated. As I have posted on other topics, the one perk that I lost that was the most idiotic to take away was the CY free coffee in the lobby. I admit, other perks over the last decade had a factor, but no more free coffee???
For 2013, I have made the switch to Hilton and by the end of the year, I will know for certain if the grass is greener. Having been a MR for 20 years, I feel I have an excellent baseline on which program will do me better by the end of this year.
Now if only Hyatt had more venues (they guarantee 4 suites annually for diamond members - another thorn in my side that Marriott will not do for their PPs those two times a year I wish to treat my family while on vacation) - I would be testing the Hyatt brand.
Yes. Voting for someone as the "least abusive" is not ideal. But, to deny to the programs that I evaluate as being very abusive any bragging rights for their affinity programs, it's easy to "sting" them and reward Marriott. I avoid Priority Club hotels now unless I'm in a city where there are no reasonable alternatives. I spend more then 200 nights a year on the road so it's cost the Intercontinental Hotels Group a lot of money, and, not just my revenue I've denied them. There's the revenue of the guests I've recruited out of IHG hotels to join me in Marriott hotels, and along the way, earning referral bonuses and getting the private satisfaction of knowing that it's cost IHG more than $100,000 last year (my stays and others combined) and will cost them as much in years to come, each and every year. They'll not know that but I will and that's enough for me.
You make very good points, as usual. I might add that another factor (not saying it's right or wrong, but just a fact) is that many people choose to go for the higher rate with rewards because the company or client is footing the bill for the stay. As long as the other person paying for the room is OK with the chain and the rate, many people would probably take the way that they get to stay in a nice place, such as the Marriott, and get rewards too.
Good stuff as usual pingreeman. It continues to surprise me that Marriott asset managers (who are very smart and talented) allow so many of what I would regard as high margin, sophisticated, loyal customers to slip away, but they do, and sadly, so far resulting in no financial impact significant enough to alter their strategy (it must be irritated loyalists from other brands switching to Marriott and entirely new target audiences, because they are beating prior comparables in all categories; rates, occupancy, revpar, and margins).
On the downside of my travel career (in volume) I have even less leverage than you, so you know where I rank on the Marriott's interest level. Not having extensive competitor brand experience also locks me in due to relatively high 'switching costs', so I wish you the very best and look forward to reading your insightful analysis. Your hotwire example is apt - this is how I play the rental car game, and it's somewhat refreshing to be free to trade exclusively on price (but then I view rental cars among the big firms as commodities).
PS -bigdogbill (he liked ping's post) - nice write up (I couldn't figure out how to comment on a review) on Dulles Residence Inn - one of my local faves - great weekend rates, free shuttle and Wegman's w/in walking distance, a great stay, thanks for highlighting
I could not agree more. I get partially subsidized for a few of my stays abroad, but most is out of my own pocket. When Marriott really made it worthwhile for a European stay (or when I admittedly was treating myself to a long-ago experience like the Grand Flora) I could justify it. I can't any longer, except, ironically, at what I consider Marriott's best hotels (and ones that were not upped to a higher category (Ghent, Brussels, Athens -- and both Cairos downgraded). Cairo is obvious why, and maybe the Ledra based on press, but trust me when I say that the Ledra is nowhere near where trouble happens in Athens and in 5 trips I have never had a bad experience. In fact, thanks (ironically) to a bank holiday in Athens last year, I got free entrances to the Acropolis and agora, and no one was there. And I will go back to Egypt as soon as things improve.
Probably the Belgium hotels (except for the Brussels Renaissance -- having stayed there once, I have no clue why anyone would want to -- it is out of the way, and not great unless you're going to a NATO meeting) are the best in mainstream Europe for providing upgrades and great service (Ghent Marriott has been rated #1 a number of times and it deserves it times many. I love that hotel and that city and they treat everyone great but Marriott Rewards members especially well.) The Brussels Marriott (much better than the Renaissance Brussels and right near the Grand' Place) has ALWAYS upgraded me to a suite on three stays without my even asking.
Loyalty is, as we have all come to know, a two-way street. I will continue to treat those hotels that have treated me wonderfully with the same respect (and staying power, literally) they have given me. Otherwise, I'm going rogue -- independent, boutique, whatever. Best hotel with best amenities for best price where I want to be.
Stelzer0001: This is a really good post. The problem is I am addicted to the Marriott Brand and allow myself as a Platinum Elite (524 nights) to be devalued. It ticks me off my loyalty is not being properly reciprocated by Marriott but what I enjoy most is that every Marriott property I have stayed at has been consistent in cleanliness, professionalism, and in a safe environment for my family and I. Maybe that's all I should expect.
When the new categories of hotels were released this year I did feel let down. I travel because I have to, not because I want to. There are 200 days every year I won't get back with my wife and kids so I look forward to rewarding them every year with a nice vacation. When the hotel categories increase without an appropriate adjustment in the point values it is a real slap in the face to the most loyal customers. I also realize that nothing will change as a result of these comments, but it feels good to vent it out. I would only hope that Marriott executives receive the message that these posts are not irrelevant gripes. These are caring and loyal members that are saying "enough is enough, and we may take our business elseware".
I have tried other brands (Sheraton & Wyndam) and do not like them. The rooms at the Sheraton are dark and look like you are staying in a cave. Wyndam is awful in every category (don't ever stay the the San Jose Wyndam).
My only exceptions from Marriott are Omni & Westin hotels. I stay at these brands about 30 nights a year if they are in a city I am travelling to because they offer a higher level of sopistication and their fitness centers are amazing.
Thank you for your post! I agree with most of what you had to say. Describing one's position as a preference to Marriott as opposed to loyalty is very perceptive. I too, am disappointed in the point devaluation, but this alone will not chase me blindly toward another brand. Of course, as others have stated, this will be enough for me to 'experiment' with other options when they present themselves. I also appreciate your comment regarding the other options out there.
Bigdogbill: thanks for your input. I too travel almost exclusively for work, so my stays are really dictated by where I need to go for work and the Company travel program I must adhere to. We only have two chains I can chose from: Starwood and Marriott. I have not stayed at a Starwood property in over 15 years due to issues I had way back when with Sheraton and the way they treated a 100+ night a year traveler. I actaully know the ex CEO of Starwood and told him (he was CEO at the time) why I was giving up on Starwood. He thanked me and had a senior person reach out to try to woo me back. Didnt work, the issues had become so severe that I just said that I could not see ever giving any revenue to Starwood, no matter what they promised or did. Just proves that when you lose a custoimer, you really can lose them for life.
Since then its been 100% Marriott. Lots of nights away from home and family, and your point about cleanliness is true, but the front desk professionalism, in my experience, is not consistent from property to property, city to city, brand by brand. Some places treat me as a Platinum (which I am), are in awe of my point balance, and show me the way they are a good service provder. Or, like the recent experience I had a an Autograph Collection Hotel, where the FDC didnt acknowledge me as a MR Platinum, didnt offer me an upgrade (I had to ask, and they told me they would get in trouble if they gave me one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), there is no lounge, so when I asked for a bottle of water, they wanted to charge it to my room (said no thanks, I walked around the corner and bought water from a local drug store for 90% less then they wanted to charge me), and then, well never mind, the story is just to sad to repeat.
The reason I started this disucssion was to keep the word alive that we, the true to Marriott crowd, wants our voices heard, that changes are going the wrong way, and we would really like to know why the Marriott Brass keeps taking away from its heavy spenders who partonize the Marriott brand thru thick and thin. I don't care what other programs do or not. Maybe I will if I ever decide to leave the secuity or Marriott and look elsewhere.
Marriott, please, tell us what you are going to do to make the program more attractive to us, not less. Please respond. The worst thing is when we feel ignored, which is what is rapidly happening.