It’s time for my annual analysis on the new categories, so here we go:
Overall since 2012:
2248 Hotels have had category changes in the last three years as follows:
621 in year 2012; 517 up in category, 102 down
1353 in year 2013; 1306 up in category, 47 down
1081 in year 2014; 849 up in category, 232 down
237 Hotels have been adjusted in every year (must be popular)
50 have gone up year over year for three straight years
1 has gone down year over year for three straight years
237 have vacillated year over year of which 209 were upped in 2014, 28 down
Ritz hotels (only two years of category changes) show the following:
All 20 up in 2014
6 up in 2013 and up again in 2014 for two consecutive years
Good stuff, thanks for compiling, certainly shows the trend. The 2013 down number of 205 strikes me as pretty high, I thought it was in the forties, but either way, I viewed 2013 as the turning point of Marriott restructuring the award program for the near future (this year, shorter advance reservation period).
erc - WOW - your insights are phenomenal as I had a formula error in my Excel spreadsheet, so I have edited the number for 2013 from 205 down to 47 down. A couple of other changes in numbers were also made and updated. All are accurate now.
In case anyone is wondering, here are the fifty venues that have gone up by at least one category every year for the last three years:
|Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, Autograph Collection||Fairfield Inn Temecula|
|Courtyard Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium||Fairfield Inn Tuscaloosa|
|Courtyard Amsterdam Airport||Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection|
|Courtyard Anchorage Airport||Hotel Duval, Autograph Collection|
|Courtyard Bloomington||Kalanipu'u Kauai Lagoons|
|Courtyard Franklin Cool Springs||Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club|
|Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown||Manila Marriott Hotel|
|Courtyard Greenville Downtown||Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa|
|Courtyard Key Largo||Marriott's Crystal Shores|
|Courtyard Louisville Airport||MVCI Marriott's Kauai Beach Club|
|Courtyard Louisville Downtown||MVCI Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club|
|Courtyard Nashville Downtown||Oakland Marriott City Center|
|Courtyard Palo Alto Los Altos||Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa|
|Courtyard Portland Downtown/Lloyd Center||Pittsburgh Marriott City Center|
|Courtyard Savannah Downtown/Historic District||Renaissance Boston Hotel & Spa at Patriot Place|
|Courtyard Shreveport-Bossier City/Louisiana Boardwalk||Renaissance Moscow Hotel Monarch Centre|
|Courtyard Tuscaloosa||Renaissance Nashville Hotel|
|Courtyard Waikiki Beach||Residence Inn Austin Downtown/Convention Center|
|Fairfield Inn Anchorage Midtown||SpringHill Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport|
|Fairfield Inn Bloomington||SpringHill Suites Pittsburgh North Shore|
|Fairfield Inn Key West||SpringHill Suites Portland Hillsboro|
|Fairfield Inn Medford Long Island||SpringHill Suites San Angelo|
|Fairfield Inn Saratoga Malta||Springhill Suites Savannah Downtown/Historic District|
|Fairfield Inn South Bend at Notre Dame||SpringHill Suites Temecula Valley Wine Country|
|Fairfield Inn State College||Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa|
This is very interesting information. I had the perception that Wentworth by the Sea and Marriott Key West resort also went up every year. I know they are 3 levels higher than four years ago, but perhaps they went up two categories at once or the first increase was in 2011.
Most MVC timeshare resorts continue to go up annually. I think one driving factor for their increase is that there is very limited availability due to owners no longer redeeming their owned weeks for MR points. Overall, our point values have declined by 30-50 % over the past four years. Spend your points now before the next devaluation.
superchief1 - Per my spreadsheet, Wentworth shows the following:
|Wentworth by the Sea, A Marriott Hotel & Spa||7||8||9|
An interesting observation that point values have declined 30-50%in the past four years. Does Marriott have established criteria for their annual classification of properties? The upward bias in classifications does seem to inflate the average point requirement for awards and to deflate the value of points. A little less obvious than UALs recent 12.5% increase in award point requirements across the board, but probably just as effective.
Great work Ping! It would be interesting to see what the actual % increase of points needed year-to-year is. For example is it a 5% increase? 10% increase? or more? I now that much of what I buy has increased year over year concistently and my guess is that most everyone is feeling the inflation pinch in their every day lives. Oh, I know the government tells us inflation is in check, but who of us really believes that? Not anyone paying for gas, buying groceries, paying the cable bill, etc.. Prices are up, and in some cases, big time. Just a thought.
Any increase by 5,000 points a night is an aggessive percentage, higher than other costs are rising. A Category Eight going to a Nine is a 5k increase on a 40k base or 12.5% and so on down to let's say a Cat. 4 which is a 25% increase, combine that with pingreeman's highlighting of properties going up each year or two out of three and you have some significant price increases. And of course any Cat. 4's or Cat. 5 going to a Cat. 6 is the removal of 100% of Certificate value, somewhat similar to the "from $99" deals, where the single $99 rate is removed Day One.
Ironically whereas the self payers are hit twice, with points inflation and price inflation in hotel cash rates; the corporate traveler who earns points on the company's dollar, has the point inflation partially softened by the recent aggressive rate increases, thus earning more points. This, of course is the concern of corporate travel managers with the 'Delta' model, travelers chasing points and not rates. This also shows in the Marriott.com pricing grids with several of their prices making no financial sense to the intelligent buyer (two different AAA prices, AAA prices higher than Standard Rate, Marriott Rewards Offers at higher prices than Standard Rates - all on the exact same room) where apparently the only reason Marriott offers those rates is because some travelers choose them.
I believe the award increases is a very effective (as in, Marriott hasn't lost any market share, in spite of the gnashing of teeth) shift in how they are managing the program and it's concurrent cost to them. Like a stock where you take profits off the table before further decline, I'm moving as rapidly as effective to avoid what I think will be even aggressive changes (this years 20 day booking notice vs. prior years two or two and a half months notice is IMO, a signal of future carving of other program details).
Good work and thanks for taking the time and effor to put this together for Insiders!
2013 was obviously the worst year of changes. I'm glad that 2014 had a lower rate of increases and a higher number of decreases. I'm also glad that Category 10 was not introduced.
I need to use my points. They have definitely lost a lot of value the last 2 years. I had a reservation at hotel Beaux arts but canceled my trip...that one went up 1 category this year but still fairly reasonable at category 7 (though you need to use additional points to get an ocean view).
I found on my laptop an earlier analysis going back to 2010/2011 changes when there were 3441 venues:
Three venues up year-after-year for four straight years:
The following list of hotels went up three straight years (2011, 2012, & 2013) but reprieved from another increase in 2014:
1595 venues have never had an increase and remain the same category as they had in 2010. However, of the 4049 venues tracked for 2014:
superchief1 - Yes, the Wentworth has seen the following:
2010 7, 2011 7, 2012 7, 2013 8, 2014 9
Another interesting tidbit:
Cat 9 venues, a new level added last year, premiered with 13 venues.
In just one year, Cat 9 now number 31, a delta of 18 comprised of 16 formerly 2013 Cat 8s and 2 Cat 7s.
Just how some of these hotels are given the Category they are given continues to baffle me when I look at the changes for this coming year.
Key West Beachside Hotel in the same Category as The Marco Island Beach Resort both CAT 9?
Fairfield Inn Key West in the same Category as The JW Marriott Cancun Resort, Marriott's Maui Ocean Club or Coronado Island Marriott Resort all CAT 8? Seriously??
I get that location has a huge part in the Category, but while Key West is a fun spot it's pale in comparison to Cancun, Maui or Coronado Island IMHO.
Looking further down that list I just keep scratching my head wondering.
Interesting point! The way I understood it, category changes were driven by our collective usage of points to stay at specific properties. The more interest in 'points' stays, the higher the category level. If its that simple of a calculation, my business mind tells me it is no more, no less, than supply and demand. If there is more that goes into the calculation, wouldn't it be nice if the community manager would share that with us.
I agree with Iahflyer; I think our usage of points must be a huge influence on the category level. Here in the UK there are the same sort of category changes as in the US that have no other logical explanation. For example, West India Quay, London, and the hotels in York and Bournemouth have all gone from 6 to 7. West India Quay is not central London, but the area is becoming more and more popular, and it is a really lovely hotel. York is great, we often stay there. But it has no Executive Lounge etc. However, York is a huge tourist spot, so I guess there are plenty of points spent there. Bournemouth is a nice hotel, but again has no Executive Lounge. However it is in a wonderful position in a typically British seaside resort, so again I guess there are plenty of points spent there. I can't think of any other explanation as to why these 3 hotels are all the same category.
I wouldn't be surprised if MR point redemption activity has increased overall because many of us are trying to use our points before they are devalued again. If the category increases are based on the absolute number of points redeemed,all popular destinations will likely continue to increase.
Many points that all have merit - my opinion, includes many of the points put forth for the dilution of our points but also include subjective situations. The constant deterioration in the value of points is discussed (as most of you are aware) on a daily basis on many different postings, but adding up all the factors is rarely investigated.
Now, for this humble traveler's take (including a view I believe Marriott takes) -
I believe the revamping of categories are a combination of:
1. The ability to accumulate points which becomes easier and easier every year (there are zillions of un-used points out there.
2. The addition of more elite members entitled to benefits (especially food in CL's) (like a bunch of United frequent flyers)
3. An attempt (similar but not as strict as airlines) to control that percentage of rooms occupied by guests on points.
It should also be taken into account that each property receives from Corporate a certain payment when a guest is using points - that fee or rate is based on the properties category. With food and labor costs escalating more money is needed to break even on the guests using points.
Put all this in a pot, add salt, pepper to taste and you have the revamping of categories.
Well put erc! Marriott Reward Members need to learn how to strategize and adapt to the changes of not only Marriott but other frequent traveler programs as well. Even with this most recent devaluation from Marriott their points still have the best redemption value when compared to other hotel reward programs.
We shouldn't be surprised that popular hotels and vacation properties continue to increase in rewards categories as the majority of Rewards members are using points for those properties. The nice thing about Marriott Rewards is there are many different ways to use your points and Rewards members should give thought as to whether or not they are making the best use of points.
On Sat. night, I was getting tired so I looked at Marriott in Greenville, SC thinking that since it was a cat. 5, my son could use one of his cat. 1-5 certificates there. Not only did it require only 20K points, but with point savers, it was only 15K points. They were working on it, but everyone at the Marriott was upstate SC friendly and really professional. We were told we could get points and a free continental breakfast there because the CL would be closed. I asked how much it would cost to upgrade to a full breakfast and Kenya called and was told that we could get them anyway because of PP.
Drove to Charlotte, NC the next day and had a SHS reservation for 2 rooms since Angel and Jerry were taking her mother to the airport the next day, so we switched roommates to make the 2 rooms work since I didn't think her mother would want to sleep on a couch.
The desk clerk was nowhere to be found when we got to the SHS @ 2 pm. He didn't want to check us in that early, but finally did. I used mr.b's pts. for the other room and booked mine on sr. citizen rate to get the 2nd night for a free cat. 5 cert. since it was only $76 / nt. The clerk was the most unprofessional person I'd ever seen at a desk, dressed in an ill-fitting polo shirt that didn't say anything about working anywhere, much less a Marriott. When I got to the room, I called mr.b to tell him my room number and give him the phone number of where I'd landed so he could call me on his calling card. He couldn't get through. I then tried calling 0 and no answer. All in all, bad place.
The next day, we were to move to a SHS - Research Dr. in NE Charlotte nearer to Concord, NC ; a mega-shopping destination for a long time with all kinds of outlet malls and activities and the destination for Jerry's birthday celebration and my suggestion that I spring for another night for them since the room was cat. 2 and seemed to be a good use of pts. with rooms costing over $100 / night without pts. I was apprehensive about staying there after the previous nights experience, but this cat. 2 turned out to be professionally run with several people at the desk and all dressed in their business suits, giving us a tour with everything working, including the pool chair lift that hadn't worked at the cat. 3 Airport SHS. We were checked in immediately without even asking at 11 am, thanked for staying there since we were PP, and given pts. as a welcome gift and 2 bottles of water. The rooms were great, it was a really nice area with lots of eating places and things to do, and near Concord. The breakfast wasn't as good as the one at the airport, but it was really a good value.
From there, we drove to NMB, SC to stay at a resort for a couple of nights, and then lucked into another 8 nights on Wed. night at another resort in MB during spring break!!! The reservation clerk on the phone told me I was the luckiest person. Yep. I am.
Sorry for the confusion. I was trying to leave an example (Joe) of alternative way of using Marriott Rewards at the end of my prevoius response and then soon after I posted it I realized my Joe example was not valid so I quickly removed it. At the time I had to leave for work and didn't have time to give a new example.
So now that I have the time here is a valid example. Jack wants to use points towards a 3 night stay at a Category 7 property which costs $179 a night ($537 for 3 night stay). If he used points to cover his entire stay he would be redeeming 105,000 points (35,000 points per night). Jack could request an Instant Redemption Reward (available at most properties during a stay) of $500 instead for 100,000 points and then pay the remaining difference of $37. Then Jack would receive additional points and elite night credits for his stay because he used the Instant Redemption option which in my opinion would be a better use of points in this scenerio.
Great example vaboywnder.
I've not used an instant redemption as yet, where in reservation page does it tell you if they offer it or must you wait and ask at the hotel when you arrive? My guess would be you book the room as a paid stay and then ask at check-in?
According to the fine print:
"Instant Redemption Awards are offered at participating hotels for the following Marriott brands: JW Marriott, EDITION, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, AC Hotels, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. Instant Redemption Awards are not available at Marriott Vacation Club."
Earlier I recall Instant Redemption was not available in Hawaii but I no longer see that restriction listed in the fine print so that may have changed. Yes you would book the room as a paid stay and then request the Instant redemption at check in or sometime during your stay prior to check out.
Yes, this is a good strategy for the moderately priced Cat. 7s. I prefer to snag the $400 to $500 Cat. 7 instead, which gives me a better point per dollar value while the added joy of "sticking it to the man". And of course, n'er do well that yours truly is, if I'm staying three nights, nine out of ten times you can bet I'm staying five nights for an even better deal.
But I repeat (no letters, please ) - the instant redemption when a hotel is priced close enough to wanting to pay instead of points and using up the full $ amount is an excellent weapon and we need all the weapons for all the scenarios out there. Go team, go!
Very few things bring more joy than "sticking it to The Man"....
Which is the opposite of the new category assignments where it could be said...
"It's another case of The Man keeping us all down" a quote attributed to Kenny Mayne?
I don't think these numbers are valid any more. The $1000 for 190,000 pts. was for 2011 and 2012 when they were heavily discounted to 145,000 for e-certs for gold and plat. until 12/31/13. They then went up quite a bit and the e-certs were eliminated. I don't remember what they went to but it was enough that everyone was complaining and it seems like the points for $1000 went up twice in rapid succession.
Those are the numbers that are currently listed on the Marriott Rewards Instant Redemption:
After you get to this page click on the text that reads "See a listing of the Awards required to redeem specific dollar values" which will open up this window which has the current redemption values.
Very good vaboywnder !!! Thanks for the reminder.
P.S.: I can't seem to find the instant rewards from the sign in page. I was wondering because I thought $1000 was 245,000 pts. the last time I looked at it. Have they gone down? That's really good if they have or even if my memory was being faulty on me.
Until you stop equating the quality of the property with the category you will continue to scratch our heads!!!
You must accept the fact that a property in city "a" might be a #5 and the same property if placed in city "b" could be a #7!!!!!
Once you can put that behind you all the comments and theories make sense.
I'm comparing even some that are in the same city. Without looking at the list again I remember finding the CY Fisherman's Wharf in the same category as plenty of other SFO hotels, but I'm off on another tangent at the moment called Taco's for lunch, research for another time so theories will have to wait.
Excellent number crunching as always pingeeman!
As for the question what governs category... Well it's redemptions!
And redemption demand is based on different outcomes to business demand. Hence an excellent new FS business Marriott with oversize rooms, wonderful common spaces, good meeting room options and close access to the motorway (freeway) can end up at cat 3 (Leicester, UK) whilst a bunch of very ordinary cramped FFI in New York blaze a cat 7 trail! I'm afraid there's not much call from leisure travellers for a motorway hotel outside Leicester, whilst leisure demand in NYC rises remorselessly. However Leicester can still achieve redemptions pursuant to what I call the "O'Leary effect" (boss of Ryanair) "if I fly anywhere cheaply enough I'll fill the planes" and you have the solution to the conundrum - make redemptions cheap! Families will find things to do around Leicester when a room only costs 15,000 points/night. Now add into the mixture the effect of perceived value. A $50 night FFI will achieve no redemptions at cat9 ($0.0001/pt), people will pay the tiny cash and conserve points for better value, likewise a $500 night FS will be inundated at cat1($0.06/pt), no matter where it is (The OLeary effect). Our redemption activity determines the categories.
Finally, I'm not sure I'd ever use the instant redemptions, they hugely undervalue the points IMHO. Ive spent over 1mill points and have always achieved values of between 1UScent (NYC) and 3UScents (Moscow). Europe presents an excellent opportunity to redeem points at top values, London, Paris, Monaco, Amsterdam, Rome and Moscow all easily bring forth 1UScent+ redemptions, even after the latest category creep. Sticking to the 5 night redemptions will open up huge numbers of other opportunities around the world. 1UScent/pt has been my minimum for almost a decade now, and nothing has changed that...
I've noticed that almost every hotel that is located in a vacation area or destination city has gone up 2-3 categories in the past 3 years, regardless of the quality of the property. Since most people redeem their points for vacations and personal trips, this will likely continue. Members will earn points on business trips and with credit cards, but redeem them for vacations and personal trips.
I have found better values by using my points at fringe locations (lke Walnut Creek, CA rather than SF), and for stopovers. Luckily, I have my timeshares for vacations and they are a lot nicer than any of the category 9 hotels near a beach. Plus, parking is free.
My best recent use of points was for a relocation to the Columbus area (on my own dime). I stayed for about 8 weeks (5 nights per week) in a category 1 Town Place Suites which was a nice property. This saved me a lot of out of pocket money for 160k points (the cost of 5 nights in a cat 8).
My mistake. I forgot it was 7500 for cat one, not 5000. I stayed 5 nights per week for 30000 pt per wk for 8 wks. Total points cost =240000, but I actually was able to use point savers (24000 per wk) for two of the weeks. This was still a good use of points for me and saved me a lot of money. I was able to stay in Cincinnati with family on weekends, and the hotel would let me leave some of my things in a secure storage area.
I noticed this too. A nothing hotel in a vacation area keeps going up. I guess airport locations fall into this too. Often when I have en early flight, I like to stay at the airport and others must do the same thing. I am trying to figure out where I am going to use my accumulated points before I have to earn more.
Here is a link to the original announcement:
You can always view the pdf file of the changes in the "Documents" section of Insiders.