After reading comments on several other discussion threads, I wondered how many Insiders travel more in order to earn bonus points (or certificates when offered). Several people have mentioned that their travel plans were already set before the latest bonus was announced. Others have said that the bonus points available are not worth chasing. I know a few people who plan travel in advance based on the usual time periods for bonus offers perhaps shifting travel by a week or two so that it will fall into the promotion time frame. What is your take?
Do promotions encourage you to add an extra night (or stay) during the promotion period?
For me, I usually am offered the lowest offer (make 2 stays and earn a free night certificate, up to 2 free nights). My normal travel plans almost always make this achievable, though I did make one extra stay during a MegaBonus a few years back.
For the summer promotion (starting June 1), I got the "earn 25,000 bonus points for staying 15 nights, and an additional 10,000 points after 20 nights" offer. Before the promotion was announced, I already had 10 paid nights booked between June and August. While I don't think I will reach 20 nights, I am planning to stay 5 more nights before August 31 so that I can achieve the bonus. I might even make a local stay if I still need one or two nights in late August. In short, Marriott got me. My offer is just a bit beyond what I had already planned and now I'm looking at staying a few additional nights to reach it.
Share your thoughts, not just about the summer promotion, but about promotions in general. Do they affect your travel plans?
You may not be in the minority at all, jerrycoin. Let's see what other Insiders have to say, but from what I've read elsewhere, I suspect a fair number of people will indicate that promotions don't make them change their plans.
I agree with that. I can't say the promotions offered make me change my travel plans. In fact I work it the other way round. I don't chase the promotion at all, but if I happen to achieve it by doing what I was going to do anyway, and as a result get a free night or two, I will use those free nights for an extra little trip in the UK. Of course, in doing so, I will also spend money at the hotel on meals, drinks etc, so Marriott will still get income, but I get a bargain.
If I'm near the threshold towards the end of the promotion, I will stay another night, but I don't really consider the bonus or plan it out so I can get the 25k bonus or whatever it is (I've earned some, missed some). My travel dates are sometimes influenced by room rates. If there is a hotel I really want to stay at, I may try to find the date of year where room rates are least expensive.
I'm with jerrycoin, promotions do not encourage me to travel at all. When it's time to go it's time to go and when it isn't then you'll find me in the backyard with the grill going.
There are two questions here: traveling more and Marriott promotions. I always travel more when I can, but I can safely say that Marriott promotions do not encourage me in the least to travel more, since I almost never stay at Marriotts anymore. No offense -- it just isn't worth my while. Hotels.com just gave me a nearly $300 credit for my next stay after 10, plus I have 3 toward the next ten. And what I like is that they average what you have paid for your credit, unlike nights or categories. Since my hotel costs are almost invariably high in Europe, this is a huge benefit to me, and it has made me look first to hotels.com rather than other travel sites. Even staying at the Sofitel, although I am an Accor member, I booked through hotels because it was 70 euros cheaper and also got me that excellent night's worth of credit.
I truly cannot remember the last time I used even my Platinum Visa Cat 5 cert (maybe Athens two years ago), let alone the 1-4. I realize it's different for people who stay large numbers of nights in the US, but in Europe it's just not worth it -- let alone available.
Excellent comment misterchk.
In general, I haven't chased bonuses until this one, and the only reason I may do so now, is that my already booked reservations put me fairly close to the extra points. With trips planned for June and August, all I need to do is add a few nights in July.
I'm not surprised to see that most people (so far) are barely influenced by promotions.
How about this for an idea? For those of us who travel solely internationally, why not create a bonus kind of like hotels.com where after a certain amount of stays (theirs are 10 averaged) you get a free night at that average?
For those of us who travel very frequently in the US, please give them the choice of which bonuses they want.
I am NOT a complainer -- it's just that I can't ever use the bonuses I get either through Marriott or my Marriott Premier VISA card. If there was a variable system based on travel patterns I think most of us would be happy.
good question. No, the promo's do not encourage more travel for me, as I am on the road continually one way or the other. What the promo does do for my travel, is keep me out of the star wood, or hilton, or shraton property somewhere that I had been thinking about trying in lieu of the marriott property that I normally stay at. simply said, the promo's buy my brand loyalty, not additional nights.
shoeman1000, not long after I posed this question, it occurred to me that someone would make this point. Thanks for doing so. Adding nights at the expense of competitors is undoubtedly something Marriott seeks.
As someone who's usually offered certs (2 stays = 1 free night, max of 2), yes, the promos have prompted additional stays to score that 2nd cert. And those stays have always turned out to be positive experiences; the first was Wilmington, NC, and we've been back thrice since (mostly for the oysters).
I can say exactly what foxglove did (except for the oysters). I find it difficult to let an opportunity pass by; if I only need one extra night to score that certificate then I'll plan a quick trip and it's usually to a property I haven't stayed at yet. So yes, they encourage me to travel more.
Not surprising foxglove. As both you and Sledchick point out, making an extra stay (even for one night) to earn a free night certificate is almost a no-brainer. I remember staying at a local hotel on the last day of a MegaBonus a few years back just so I could earn the 2nd promo certificate. They went to good use for a couple nights at Courtyard Key Largo back when it was only a category 4 (now cat. 7).
I suspect the double points after 2 stays will not encourage as many people as the certs did.
As per my usual MO, I'll answer the specific question, while adding in some additional, interrelated this and that (how I roll), which hopefully won't muddy the waters.
As a purely leisure traveler who only stays 20-25 nights/year (counting paid stays, not point or cert stays), yes the promotions definitely encourage me to stay more.
Having said that, the truth is that it's working less and less for me, in that the prize is becoming less and less useful. About the prize, I'm referring to the Cat. 5 certs. I use the certs. purely for extra getaway weekends here and there at someplace that is close enough to travel by car, such as the Central Coast, SF or So. CA beaches (it wouldn't make sense to spend a lot of money to travel somewhere far just to use a free cert. unless it somehow by chance jives with already planned travel). I used to be able to spend the certs in SF, Oakland, Paso Robles, SLO, Capitola, Salinas (just outside Monterey), San Diego, La Jolla, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Irvine, Disneyland, Georgetown and Chicago. Also Paris, Munich, Vienna. With the category increases, I can now only use them at Oakland (at a less favored property), one left in Salinas, one left in San Diego (another less favored property) and Irvine. The rest - all of them - have bumped up to a 6 in the past two years (and who knows, maybe I had a hand in that - I've used certs at most of them .) Oh, and a new Cat .5 Residence Inn just opened up in Dana Point. What do we want to bet that it will be a Cat. 6 by next year? If the trend continues and the certificates do not bump up along with the hotel categories, and I have no reason to doubt that this will happen, then by this time next year, the free night certificates will no longer work for me and thus if I were asked this same question in 12 months from now, my answer would then be unequivocally, No.
In that event, I will simply say, "It was a good run while it lasted." I've already used/encumbered 4 free night certs this year, and still have 3 on the books which won't expire until next Spring. Would I like the bonus promotions to continue at the level that they had been in the past? Of course. But as they are trending towards being less useful for my individual travel needs, all I can simply say is, "Thank you Marriott for having been so generous with this less frequent traveler. It is and has been much appreciated." When generosity is repeatedly granted above and beyond what is required, it is human nature to come to expect it, take it for granted. The thing is, it's not an entitlement. It's just a gift (and in this case it has been a generous one.) I have to remind myself of that sometimes.
Great comments, pluto77. Those of us who travel mostly for leisure find it difficult to stay 15-25 nights over a three month period (for some of us, that's a full year worth).
Let's hope that if/when free night certificates return (fall MegaBonus? ) the category is bumped up.