A rewards program to encourage loyalty to the Marriott brand. From a personal perspective, it is a way for me to take my wife on a second honeymoon and ditch the cell phone and laptop for a week where the focus is all about her.
while I will admit, I do have some concerns with the direction of the program, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to "splurge" on a vacation with my wife do in big part to Marriott Rewards.
to me a rewards program tries to get a consumer to chose their brand over someone elses . So to be effective ( in broad terms) only needs to be equal or better than competition and meaningful enough to be viewed as having value. I have heard many airline passengers say getting on early for bags is more important than upgrades. With hotels the points are fantastic especially after one stops traveling. While traveling to me getting into concierge is very important
In general, I'd say the purpose is to encourage repeat business. If consumers feel they can get something more (points, elite status, etc.) they might direct more of their business to a specific company. It works well if a person is only a member of a single loyalty program. Joining multiple programs will lead to shopping around based on price or perks. That's where things get tricky.
People choose which companies to patronize for many reasons (price, convenience, good customer service, etc.). A loyalty program might tip the balance slightly, but if the underlying experience degrades, the customer eventually leaves.
I agree with all of the previous replies. How's that for being middle of the road?
For me Marriott Rewards was about having a nice little nest egg to use when I retired, points, status for upgrades, elite perks and getting a luggage tag. Now, it is about finding a way to work around the devaluation of my points while picking and choosing my paid nights vs reward nights.
Marriott Rewards = gives me multiple perks that I value as a frequent traveler at no extra cost, and the ability to get some free nights for my loyalty. I could stay with a second hotel chain and be at the top of 2 rewards programs, but why bother? Marriott has the reach I need - any city I'm likely to go to around the world has a Marriott and they all operate essentially the same way. Marriott Rewards provides me with access to consistent high quality service around the world
Loyalty programs are for the purpose of profit protection or growth. Programs should at the very least help an organization maintain market share (often by increasing the switching costs of customers and thus the retention), and if possible, capture new customers through actual or perceived competitive advantages. The costs of any program must be justified by the benefits, again, even if it's a less quantitative one such as price leadership (which can be measured). When the reality is recognized that these programs are not altruistic efforts and are often matched against the level of competition, it's no surprise (albeit, disappointment) to any of us to see industries move in lock step.
I treat loyalty programs as factors of pricing and attempt to maximize returns as one might in purchasing stocks; as returns decline, I move out of that particular asset. I'm fortunate in that my heavy accumulation and use of points were during the heyday of Marriott Rewards and I empathize with all, who due to time constraints, were unable to exercise the significant level of points they earned (and I do mean earned - they are not gifts), having to slowly watch them decline in value, similar to restricted options going from, in the money to underwater. Although I don't agree with their recent approach, I don't fault Marriott for playing hardball with their program, especially given the performance cushion their financial capabilities and expertise have provided them. And should the day return where Marriott once again needs customers enough to aggressively pursue them through loyalty programs, I'll increase my loyalty.
Sorry, anadyr, I couldn't resist - here's the poll: http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/polls/1297
Great topic.... This should be interesting....
Good poll idea. ssindc. Wonder where it came from.
We must all remember, MR is not about us. It's strictly a marketing tool. All our free nights cost Marriott money. The company is looking to make a profit and the loyalty program doesn't add to that unless it gets us to spend money.
I love earning points and getting free nights, but I know Marriott doesn't do that out of generosity. This is how they keep me coming back. Wow, am I addicted? I seem to recall admitting to being a points junkie some time back.
As erc has pointed out in numerous posts on this site, we try to work the system to get the most for our points/dollars. As we cost Marriott more, they degrade the value of our points. Then we again try to maximize our return. And so it goes.
I like Marriott and though I know they're not really "free", I do like earning "free" hotel stays.
Well said. Marriott Rewards was not developed to reward customers, it was developed to increase sales for the company. Same with all the other loyalty programs. These were marketing tools, and while it's understandable that we take offense to the value of the plans being watered down, for most of us, there was never an exchange made between us and marriott, just points provided for stays made. Most of us were /are on expense accounts and, truth be told, we often stayed at Marriott even though it was costing our employer a little more, just so we could get the points. I do agree with erc that each of us can choose to go elsewhere if the value equation leans in another direction, but I have yet to see a better mousetrap, and until then I will remain loyal to Marriott. I promise, I am really not a 'homer', I am simply comfortable whete I am lying tonite (in a marriott bed).
I agree with your strategy of staying with what works. In a similar vein to the corporations, individuals must do cost/benefit analysis as well. An employee traveling on the company dime, busting his fanny for performance, has a different cost structure (i.e. sweat equity and the headache factor) than a leisure or individual traveler who is going out of pocket. That's why as the economy rebounds (as it has for business travel) hotel chains don't have to hand out the goodies as generously, because their business travel market share is holding up well.
Speaking for myself, the only reason I belong to MR is to earn points to hopefully use them some day. However, in looking back over the years, had I used Priceline (or some equivalent) to book hotels of equal/similar quality as the Marriott venue I stayed, I could have probably saved more money than 10-times the value of my lifetime points and free certificates combined. In other words, I was gullible and entrapped to MR once I joined 25+ years ago. From a financial perspective, it was DUMB!
In reading the Pros and Cons at Pro & Con of Marriott Rewards, I feel my statement above is all the more relevant as there are few PROs or CONs that could not have been satisfied by a priceline-booked hotel. For example, a Pro cited: Number of Properties --> number of properties offered by priceline is always more than number of Marriott-branded venues in a given city/location making this pro not pertinent. Furthermore, those pros/cons that are loyalty-specific by definition become irrelevant when using priceline - a non-loyalty issue.
Lastly, consider that priceline has a VISA card that earns points and a Bonus Cash program that provides a percentage rebate on bookings that are banked and can be used on future travel, I challenge almost any rewards program from a monetary perspective.
I think your first paragraph is being a bit too hard on yourself. Heck, if any of us had held and divested our various investments over the past 25 years at the optimal time, few of us would be in this forum, we'd be cruising on our yachts instead. The only thing that would have been dumb would have been knowingly overpaying just to chase points and in reading your posts and point analysis over the past two years, I highly confidently (an old Drexel term ) doubt that you intentionally overspent just to receive points.
Your last paragraph to me sums up the new reality, if we continue to blindly pursue exclusively the marriott.com option, then along the same lines as "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" we would be imprudent.
Happy New Year, glad to have you along for the ride.
For me, the value of the Marriott Rewards program previously was much more than earning points. In addition to being appreciated as a loyal customer, there was the opportunity to achieve status and additional benefits. Platinum members previously were offered many attractive benefits, including frequent suite upgrades, CL access (with complimentary food and wine), BOGO's, platinum amenities of our choice, and $1000 Marriott checks for 135k points (which were great when hotels had blackouts). Achieving and maintaining status impacted my loyalty more than points because I had to focus on one chain to reach the elite level. The benefits of MR platinum far surpassed other chains at that time. However, the benefits of being platinum have all gone away, so now the only incentive is points. While Marriott currently has better value point pogram than most competitors, their elite benefits are at a competitive disadvantage.
To me, the benefits of being an elite have not left. Try being the spouse of an elite and getting the rooms without that benefit when you've been used to them.
I've been trying to stay without the elite status in order to get the certificates during MegaBonus, as well as for our son. Believe me, it's hard to suck up to the diminished perks in order to get the certs. that I'd been passing up through the ignorance of not figuring it out sooner.