Well, you learn something new every day. I just got a quick, informative summary from mikiegfla about the difference between blackout dates and capacity control.
I'm sure there's more, but I found it all to be rather informative.
Ultimately, it convinces me that I've been an unusually lucky (or, I guess, easy to please) Marriott customer for many (many) years. [I've even got one of those Marriott Marquis luggage tags to prove it: http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/polls/1019] Fortunately, I've never been blacked out trying to use my points - ever. Indeed, I'll never forget the time I was booking a week in Europe with my family at a nice hotel, only to learn that the week I wanted was eligible for a Points Saver rate - that's was awesome!!!!
All of which begs two questions:
I just learned the same lesson, just because you have a free night coming and the hotel is within the range (1-5), and the hotel is not booked solid, it does not mean you can use your free night, the answer: It depends??? This is the 2nd free night certificate that I have that will go unsued. Id rather they not send them to me. It's too frustrationg.
If I have a date in mind for my certificates at a specific hotel, I will continue to call them and eventually we find dates that work in my schedule. It just depends on who you talk to at the hotel, sometimes they don't want to be bothered to check and just say the dates are gone for points and certificates. (I ask for the front desk manager) . Actually I always call the hotel before I arrive (even in Europe and Caribbean). I don't travel for business only pleasure. I try and make sure everything is in place before I arrive. Maybe this is why I have always been lucky (or persistent) with no blackout dates.
I'm with you, SSindc,
I have been quite fortunate to have been able to use my points and/or free night certs 95% of the time and so far, so good. The times I have not been able to use points or a cert, I didn't try to reserve very far in advance, plus I was trying for a peak travel season date. I do make my reservations far in advance as much as possible. I think that has contributed to my (ongoing) success in this area.
I too have been very fortunate as I have never been turned down using points or certificates at any hotel. I have booked with points at every level and all over. Of course the certificates are a little harder to use since they are by category, but still have not been turned down at any time.
I too have had relatively good success using certificates (and points the one time I did). For me, they've filled a nice void where I wanted to do something, but didn't want to spend the money on the room to go. It took "on the bubble" trips and made them happen, so it also wouldn't have been a huge deal if it didn't work out. That said, when planning certain trips, I've noticed hotels appear and disappear from the points list throughout the planning process. Fortunately for me, those are usually in places with multiple options (NYC, Albuquerque, etc.), and I end up finding one I'll be happy with.
My problem was there was only one marriott where i wanted to go. You have to use the certificate within 6 months, I need to go now not in 2 or 3 months.
I just was caught off guard. I was not aware of the practice of limiting available rooms. My point is, the hotel is not completely full. Is it better to have an empty room than to allow a member to use the cert that night? How can it be better for the hotel to have an empty room??? Just doesnt make sense to me. I guess I'm too logical in my thinking. I find this very frustrating and annoying. Too old for this. I have so many other options for credit cards, bosuses, points etc I just dont see the benefit for me to continue using this card, I would rather use one of the others with less hassle redeeming points.
Best of luck to you all and thanks for the feed back.
I am pleased to say that I have been able to book rewards stays when I wanted with one exception. I do try to plan well in advance and possibly that is the reason for my success. The one time that I could not book an award stay was when the hotel was sold out for one of the four nights I wanted. Calling the elite desk the agent explained the situation and said as a platinum member she could book me the one night if I was willing to pay for it, which I was and did. The thing that impressed me was that the paid night was a Saturday andshe arranged for me to use a three night reward for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I am very satisfied with my ability to book reward stays.
Yes - I'm trying to book Lake Placid Courtyard right now (a Courtyard!!) for the 2nd weekend in January - and can't get anything. Paid for rooms require a 2-night minimum stay. ANNOYING. This is Lake Placid for cripes' sakes, not the actual 2014 winter olympics. In 2 months. On a non-holiday weekend. Makes no sense at all.