Thread on flyertalk day in a GM In the UK said a memo from corporate in September said elites will no longer have lounge access int'ly starting jam '15.
My response is bollocks.
Marriott would be insane to stop int'l lounge access especially given it's competitors offer it. For that matter they'd be insane to stop it domestically too.
There is the thought they may be switching to the Hilton model of you only get access if you get upgraded to exec lounge level, but one Marriott's competitive advantages over Hilton etc is you get access regardless.
Folk have already said if this true they've leaving Marriott for the other chains.
Again, they'd have to be nuts to institute something like this. Having said that....
So post your thoughts 're this and if you would jump ship. Of by chance it's true maybe Marriott will realize this is one downgrade too far for its elites.
Both here and on Flyertalk, lounge overcrowding is referred to as a problem but this proposal makes no sense at all. Simply none.
The overcrowding problem repeatedly referred to both here and Flyertalk isn't present in Europe/Middle East. Lounges are well used, but very seldom crowded, and in all my visits to Marriott lounges (and all have been international) only one, the Heathrow Ren, overcrowded. In any event most of these international lounges outperform Marriott standards, they don't do this out of the goodness of their hearts, they do it to maintain their position in the market. These hotels have no wish to close lounges or have them deserted which is what this policy could do internationally.
The overcrowding problem is not an international one, it's American/Canadian. Quite simply, Marriott has been minting too many elites, but really only in the US. In the USA it's possible by holding the right credit card and spending a reasonable monthly sum thereon to be Gold on 30 nights, Plat on 55. These cards are not available outside the US/Canada, and so turns many North American Silvers to Gold, and most Golds to Plat. Medium level UA elites also get free MR Gold, which again swells the ranks of North American elites since the majority of plane journeys made by UA are domestic, so non USA/Canadian residents are unlikely to attain middle ranking status in UA, that's not to say they don't, just that they'll be statistically fewer.
Naturally, both medium-ranking UAs and of course regular US credit card spenders do fly internationally sometimes, but I'm prepared to lay odds that these Americans mainly frequent American hotels in North America so these increased numbers mainly effect North America.
I was an early contributor to the rumours concerning devaluation earlier this year, repeating discussions I'd had with managers in bars/lounges that the scheme needed a revamp, and in particular that to resolve the overcrowding problem ("what overcrowding here?" I laughed, looking around a half empty lounge) it had been suggested restricting gold elite access to upgraded only, a la HHonors. In reality this policy would have little effect on Golds internationally where the status is still tough to get, but would relieve the North American problem, which is, of course self-inflicted by Marriott. Effectively, in the US, Silver has become the new Gold and Gold the new Plat. It's unrealistic, and mathematically impossible to make lounge access available to all elites, yet thats what these recent changes do in NA, and as the economy improves this problem will only grow in size.
When Marriott comprehensively scotched the rumours earlier this year, the lounge issue remained unaddressed and this rumour is going to continually recur as members repeatedly see evidence in the lounges that the current position is untenable. Marriott must restrict lounge access in North America, whether it formalises the approach taken by the New York Marquis, only the members room gains access, and only the member and 1 guest is permitted at any one time, a policing operation that's unpopular with both franchisees and MR membership, or some rules-based restriction is placed on general elite access, something has to be done. Well, either that, or increase the size of lounges, and I cant see that happening.
So yes, I agree, I think it's Bollocks. But only because this rumour is centred around international lounges that neither need, nor want, restricted access. This is a North American Marriott-inflicted problem, too many mid to high ranking NA elites, too few seats in NA lounges. But restricting Gold access a la HHonors, (lounge access only if scoring an concierge level upgrade) would control the numbers in overcrowded-lounge (ie North American) properties leaving international lounges basically unaffected, but able to prevent the occasional overcrowding on high-demand nights. Of course, Marriott would take a big hit domestically on this. Probably not from low-staying Credit Card/UA Golds who will still see value in a watered down scheme they contribute little to anyway, but from the many genuine American/Canadian Golds who slog their way to the status by actually STAYING AT MARRIOTTS. They may well look elsewhere leaving Marriott with a loyalty program that discourages the very loyal behaviour the whole program was originally designed to encourage, namely more stays at Marriotts!
It is totally strange that the GM said it's referring to international properties only. If some change was going to be made & cutbacks, it's normally the US/Canada that get screwed more. I keep hearing about overcrowding in the US and int'l, but truthfully I've not encountered it other than if the lounge itself is quite small or during large conventions.
And given that other chains aren't planning on closing the exec lounges, if Marriott did (whether int'l or domestic) my money is on elites jumping ship to the other chains & bye, bye revenue to Marriott. Of course the other chains would probably like that
This may be one of those ideas being tossed out to judge the feedback. On Flyertalk the feedback is negative.
Maybe Marriott is thinking of going to the Hilton mode of lounge access only if upgraded (for Golds) & only Plats get guaranteed access. I will say, though, that when Hilton went that route is when I dropped Hilton & went 100% Marriott. Guaranteed lounge access for Gold & Plats is a 'competitive advantage' Marriott has over its competitors. It would be silly for them to give up a competitive advantage.
I could see Marriott moving more towards enforcing the elite+1 to deal with any overcrowding issues. Of course the downside there is when the elite is on holiday with his/her spouse & kids.
Given Grosvenor House in London just built a large exec lounge on the ground floor that opened up in the last month or so (to replace the small one it had on the 7th which did get crowded), I can't see them having done that if they knew lounges would be closed starting in January. But then again, given its high-end clientele who do stay there I can't see them closing it even if Marriott said to do so.
You hit it right on the nose, UA and the Marriott nonsensical marriage has certainly increased the number of CL people and it drives me crazy that partnership where Marriott Elites lose time and time again.
Should this rumor actually come true I will certainly continue look elsewhere when traveling internationally as I already do and have started last year doing domestically. Marriott you are not the only horse in the barn.
"In the USA it's possible by holding the right credit card and spending a reasonable monthly sum thereon to be Gold on 30 nights, Plat on 55. These cards are not available outside the US/Canada,"
ceterum censeo that Dutch people should have the possibility to have a Mariott CC as well ;-)
I hope to hit Platinum 6 weeks from now ( I have changed my plans) by staying 71 ( ! ) real nights by 3 November (I got one extra night for my birthday and I have 3 roll-over nights);
does Marriott have any idea how hard it is to actually become Platinum without tie in credit cards?
furthermore, I feel being left out, by being excluded from the "easy way" to Platinum;
71 real nights; averaging 1 out of every 5 days this year; I wonder why my wife still loves/likes me...
(and looking at my current planning it will be over 90 this year)
there is one plus side, like brighlybob mentioned, I rarely encounter overcrowding here in Asia...
I feel (some of) your pain, ramoneur.
Whilst we don't have the generous premium American card, we can at least get the 10 EQN & 1 point per £ free card, which takes the edge off qualifying.
You have to consider that it is supposed to be difficult to gain the top tier. It's not for the casual traveler or the occasional business trip. For a whole lot of us, 75 nights is no big deal. In fact for a lot of people 75 nights a year is the equivalent of almost never travelling compared to what they do now. I've personally had business trips last as long as 4 months. 30 days at a time is considered the minimum.
There are some other threads complaining about how the UA tie in has created so many elites that the lounges are getting crowded. That's what happens when you make gaining elite tiers too easy.
I'm still worn out from playing the last round of this game 2015 Devaluation (rumor mill)
so, I'm going to sit this one out. However, since I do believe that none of these were/are ever 'baseless' and that this is one area (floated rumors/trial balloons whatever) Marriott actually eyeballs (they could have very easily avoided the Sturm und drang of the last episode), I will throw in my two cents, which is about the value Marriott puts on Insiders' concerns, and say, "that would be bad".
If Flyertalk loyalists' disenchantment over this issue doesn't hold Marriott at bay, certainly it's smaller, hair not burning , cousin, Insiders, isn't going to sway them - but as one who booked the Ghent Marriott, Amsterdam and Brussels properties based on glowing Concierge Lounge reports (your Amsterdam with pictures report being one of the finest) I would certainly be upset over any lounge restrictions, so Go Man, Go and thank you for your efforts.
I would certainly add that a good proportion of my reservations are made because a certain hotel has an exec lounge and it would most definitely change my stay behaviour if automatic access were lost. In my opinion it would be by far the biggest and worst cut in my decade of Marriott membership.
In 2013 IHG made a series of awful changes to their scheme, and as a result I went from 30 paid nights with them last year to 3 this. That's been costly to IHG as they had about 40% of my stays in 2013 and this year my travel has boomed with all those extra nights pushed Marriotts way. Had IHG held back they may well have seen 40-50 nights this year. Loyalty is a 2-way relationship, IHG didn't realise that. I would hope Marriott does...
As erc says, if the lounges were closed, "that would be bad". My guess is the GM is misinterpreting a memo from corporate, but we'll find out in 3 months.
I talked to a few GMs at int'l properties one time re: exec lounges being open/closed on weekends & one of them said if they can make their numbers work/not lose $$, they would keep them open. They're not doing it just to be nice. They know exec lounges draw people to their properties.
And one of the ex Insiders said, when the new brekkie policy was instituted, that properties can go above & beyond if they choose, or keep the lounge open if they choose, that Marriott wouldn't interfere with property decisions, but they had to comply with the minimum policy. Some properties do offer full brekkie or keep the lounges open.
Of course as we saw w/ the Platinum arrival gift in the US/Canada (500pts/$10FB voucher), when there is a corp edict from Marriott sometimes it does get followed en masse.
I heard back from my contact at an int'l property with the following:
"I personally have not heard anything about a change in the lounge access. Neither have my colleagues. I have emailed our headquarters for a reconfirmation and will get back to you."
So hopefully that's true & the GM in the UK who said elites would not have exec lounge access starting in Jan '15 was wrong or misinterpreted something.
Marriott is a top-down organisation. Wether to scotch this rumour, how, when and the wording will need to be approved at various different levels, firstly of course making sure some dept somewhere hasn't actually drawn up the memo! All this takes time.
Marriott is well aware of this thread and these rumours, but if a denial is to be issued, it will take time. If during the time it all takes this dies down then no harm done. And this thread, and the FT thread are certainly garnering much less support, and far more scepticism than before.
Move along now ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here, move along please...
I'll move along when Lindsey comes back and says no changes until then 've no problem raising awareness Bob on insiders and on flyertalk. And eventually the bloggers are going to see the thread on FT - they constantly scour the forums looking for stuff to write about.
Btw - you'll recall I was the one that said this was bollocks, but never hurts to have official confirmation of that.
And besides Marriott should be grateful - takes some attention away from them getting fined $600,000 by the FCC for deliberately blocking guests mobile hotspots
Thanks Lindsey. If it's false (hopefully) then better to know now & shut down the rumor mill before the bloggers pick up the rumor & it goes widespread, and/or people start booking away or status matching. If it's true - or some type of change is coming - better to have an accurate take on what the changes will be than mere speculation.
In the first iteration of rumorville back in March, the rumor broke out March 11th from this innocent enough thread
creating all types of gnashing of teeth, hiding of little children, and burning of villages.
Over 100 hundred replies later, some a bit tinged with hysteria, finally three days later Andy responded in a completely different thread, the one I highlighted above 2015 Devaluation (rumor mill) the hysteria spread across the pages as shown below:
Brightly, I recently spoke with someone who works at Marriott and he said there may be radical changes coming to MR that will be announced later this Spring and take effect in 2015. The changes being discussed include:
Andy - the former community manager responded
There are no changes planned to Elite benefits. There is nothing hidden in these words – we have no devaluation of Elite benefits in the discussion, planning or execution phase. No ‘later this spring’ announcement of any kind planned. No new levels. No changes to concierge lounge access. No “Delta” model. Annual award category changes will be announced next week.
This response finally came after we highlighted how easy it would be to squash this rumor (which was also picked up by Rick some blogger, you and Anadyr know) going to an even wider audience.
This rumor thread, similar to the rumor thread that began in March, demonstrates to me several aspects of the social media interaction between Marriott and their customers on FlyerTalk and Insiders. Marriott Rewards on Facebook has a different feel to it - to me; almost immediate reaction, although with similar, understandable, "we feel your pain" protective coating with a request for personal contact data for specific interaction and follow up relatively effectively managing any 'flare ups' of vitriol.
I believe brightlybob has properly summarized the corporate process for a broader response and the following bullets are my opinions based on years of observing the Marriott media interaction with our two forums;
1) it takes time and thought to word a response that doesn't create more confusion or irritation (over there in the More Like This Column is the classic Ed French interview and we also remember how Marriott let MichelleL hang out to dry on BOGOs, as prime examples of in trying to clarify, only exacerbating the irritant)
2) if in Marriott's opinion, no harm, no foul and then most likely, no response
3) a perception by Marriott of misdirected negative consumer reaction (note I say misdirected, Marriott is a big boy and absorbs negative reaction toward a decision that in their opinion enhances corporate performance) will generate a response
Number 3 is what I believed happened during March's first rumor mill go around. The rumor started, as I highlighted above with takingthehighroad's worthwhile input from a Marriott employee (I didn't spend the time digging it up, but either he or BBob got additional info from a full service GM - GM's at that level are pretty sophisticated managers normally not given to talking aimlessly off the top of their head, so no doubt, 'the rumor' had some meat behind it). It went 'active' both on Insiders and it's much, much bigger (and boisterous) friend FlyerTalk. It ran for three full days of active dissatisfaction (all the while, similar to ski above, with erc and others requesting Marriott interaction) until finally a points blogger (Rick) with a significant enough following (many FT'ers and Insiders post his links frequently) posted it and geometric negative exposure took off, prompting (finally, although only three days in real world time) a formal denial by Queen of Marriott Social Media herself, Michelle LaPierre. One hour later our own Andy posted the exact same wording (to BBob's point) on Insiders.
Now here we are again. We can either wait it out or engage in the spreading by feeding the bloggers - but to me, that would be a disservice to our fellow travelers who might then unnecessarily change their travel plans. Rather than me writing down all possible scenarios and further boring everyone, we can discuss as they come up (like, "what if it's true?").
Another point clearly demonstrated in this, is that in spite of all their significant knowledge (and it is remarkable the things I learn from FT) and vast numbers, FT can do nothing but wait and speculate until our own newly minted Oregon Duck graduate lindsey returns from Intergalactic (who have been known to sit on requests) with probably a broad, vanilla in substance response very similar to the answer the originator of the rumor dank0014 got when he wrote corporate (again to bbob's point). We can discuss among ourselves, whether or not Marriott should be more responsive, but like excellent ideas and suggestions from both FT and Insiders, IMO, it most likely leads nowhere.
My real message and purpose of the post;
NathalieF , Nathalie, if you ever wanted proof of the weight your role carries, here it is. Make Insiders the 'Go To' forum.
Hi Insiders - Just wanted to touch base here. lindseyh and I are still looking into this and will share a response ASAP! We understand this would affect your future travel plans, so we hope to deliver good news.
This is terrific work. Thanks for your diligence. We can't change the policies of Marriott (nor do we expect you to), but we can certainly be as well informed as anyone else outside the company, and you have taken a huge step in making Insiders a much more valuable source of information. Way to go. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
1 piece of advice if I may. FlyerTalk can get you some interesting information. But it is also infested with a whole lot of people who are simply there to tell you why they hate Marriott/Hilton/Westin/United/American/Democrats/ Republicans/their mother/etc. You have to learn to winnow out the noise. Personally I almost never take anything I see there at face value unless I've had a lot of experience with the poster and know them to be reliable. Otherwise, anything I see I will either double check elsewhere or simply ignore.
I thought I'd seen some lounge crowding issues at both LHR Ren and Brussels Marriott, there were places at tables, but only isolated ones, but the situation when I stayed at Marriott Marquis Times Sq was just nuts. I'm sure the United Silver is worth it to some members here (I seem to remember bejacob stating he was able to make use of it, but if you're not monewr one of their hubs or aren't American it's of limited use, and value too. I haven't noticed any increase in crowding in the EU since the United tie-up, but if the breakfast bunfight the Marriott Marquis is anything to go by, there is a problem here for USA Marriott properties.
HAving said that, Marriott are taking steps on this issue. Firstly they've changed the verbiage on the terms and conditions of elite lounge access specifically limiting to elite plus 1. So those hotels that want to police access to restrict numbers will be able to do so, amd secondly designed a new lounge concept, the "M" lounge, a ground/first floor larger lounge. Undoubtably improving size and restricting numbers will help them deal with this issue...