One of the drawbacks of the plethora of reviews streaming nonstop on the Insiders forum is that it has chased away a lot of Insiders who no longer want to deal with the headache of wading through the 10 to 1 ratio (or higher) of reviews to locate travel posts in order to follow discussions. I miss the terrific insights of those Insiders who used to share not only superb write ups about hotels (in far more detail than the reviews, with photos and ideas about activities and restaurants) but also shared (and by sharing, generated productive discussions by all, which is the true opportunity cost of the review tsunami) strategies for maximizing the value of Marriott Rewards. Here's a worthwhile article distributed by Flyertalk (frugaltravelguy authors) with a good overview of some of those ideas (all of which have been highlighted on Insiders, but would require the investigative skills of Sherlock Holmes to find nowadays).
1) It has a few typos, but you'll know them when you see them and it doesn't materially change any of his tactics
2) The Megabonus remains one of the strongest offers (along with the 5 nights for 4 points deal), but as you know (and can see from the comments on the article) it can often depend upon A) you knowing about and receiving one and B) who you call to secure/revise your offer. Again, for new Insiders, keep calling until you get the offer you want - we've had several discussions about that.
3) Because I am now a 'leisure' traveler and get to schedule my travel further in advance, I've yet to enjoy the benefit of the LNF (look no further) offer. But I know several business travelers who have and it is the real deal (mostly because Marriott wants to assure that the operators are encouraged to use Marriott.com - it's not altruism, just good business sense, which is when we the reward member profit the most, goal congruency with Marriott). The Welcome Gift guarantee was structured in a similar way, not to be a windfall for us, but to assure policy implementation (disappointingly, that is dying a slow death and Insiders have read the reasons why, skiadcock is the expert on this).
4) Eb and others have effectively written about refer a friend (flyertalk - Marriott forum actually sets up a system for you) and if interested, it's a meaningful program.
5) The cash rebate portal has always been of interest to me, but in truth, I'm too lazy to pursue. Would love to hear some success stories about it from Insiders, they swear by it on Flyertalk. Similar to discounted giftcards, like Amtrak and others - the real deal (the bonus points for gift cards probably went the way of BOGOs and gift cheques).
And so on and so on (credit card deals, elite status multiplier etc). Enjoy - if you can find this post.
@erc - spot on. The MRI has become too "facebook-like" to manage a simple perusal of questions to answer - my favorite activity. Might I also suggest that hotel reviews be given a different icon from the "balloon" to perhaps a Monopoly-like Hotel - allowing easier identification of reviews versus questions/discussions.
I liked your idea about making the hotel reviews look like a Monopoly hotel (probably have to make it just a little different, to keep from getting sued;). Now as I liked this comment, and then re-read the part about coming too Facebook-like, I wonder if "liking it" isn't an oxymoron? Too hard for my brain to comprehend on Monday morning.
You are absolutely, unequicocally spot on. I find this site to now be VERY cumbersome. It is difficult, at best, to find posts that relate travel experiences and invite great conversation as in the past. Ergo, I don't visit much anymore......I can go tons of places to see hotel reviews, but travel insights?..........we used to have them in spades, but now....just try to find them.....