I have been loyal to Marriott for well over 15+ years, always staying at a Marriott property when on business or personal travel. What happened to the rewards program? It now takes about 2x the rewards to get a room.
For example, I have been visiting Erie PA for family reasons since Y2000. The Marriott hotels there are about the same price as they were then... but now they are about 30k in points instead of 10-15k just over a year or so ago.
I just stayed in a Marriott courtyard on business in NJ off Rt 80 - for 10k points... and the regular price was much more than Erie. I checked Erie for the same day, and it was 30K.
Those are just a few examples.
I have stopped using my Marriott Rewards credit cards (2 of them), and will use the rest of my points. My plan is to switch to Hilton and Hyatt properties.
It is also worth noting, that I am in the middle of a relocation and will be staying 5 nights a week in a hotel for about 6-8 months. It would normally be a Marriott, but not now.
For the record - I am a Marriott Lifetime Silver member:
I really dont expect to hear from Marriott, but as a very experienced business traveler, I had to vent.
Hey frustratedformerlyloyal2marriott, thank you sharing this thoughtful post with the community. I understand your frustration, and appreciate that you spent time sharing your experience. I'm going to pass your feedback on to the greater team, as the feedback like this is essential for improvement of the program.
If you would like to discuss this with someone from Marriott, I'd be happy to connect you with someone directly. Just shoot me a DM with your Rewards number and the best way to contact you.
Hi Frustrated - While I understand your frustration, I also understand that the rewards level of hotels will change, but my frustration is based on the rather random manner of the changes. Perhaps Marriott could explain in general terms what factors are considered in the determination as to what rewards level each property is assigned and what factors determine if the level increases or decreases in a given year. I suspect that if we had a better sense as to Marriott's reasoning, we might be more understanding of the process. From a personal perspective, I would urge you to reconsider your decision to abandon Marriott. Overall, I've found that you can't beat the consistency of a Marriott property and, having at times being forced to stay at another hotel chain, no other chain has beds as comfortable as Marriott's!
Precisely, jerryl. Each year Marriott re-evaluates hotel categories, and those categories are decided by how many members used reward points to stay at that hotel. So essentially, the more popular the hotel is for point redemption, the higher the category.
I'm afraid loyalty scheme inflation is a necessary fact.
I read somewhere that 20 years ago there were 6 categories. Now there's 9! I suspect 20 years ago a high season night at the Times Square Marriott cost $300, earning a plat 5000 points. As a category 6 property the Marriott Rewards offer was effectively stay 6 peak nights, get 1 night free. Today money has inflated and that high season night costs $500, earning a plat 8,000 points. As a category 9 property it works out at stay-6-get-1-free. Which is kinda familiar.
Of course there are some examples of hotels which have inflated very rapidly. Here in the UK the Marriott Bournemouth was a cat 4 when I joined 10 years ago but now stands at cat 7, 35,000 points night. OUCH! Mind you there's also the Marriott Peterborough that was a cat 3 when I joined MR and is still a cat 3 now!
I must admit most of my experience here in the UK has been inflationary. When I joined MR in 2005 I'm sure that of the 50 hotels in the UK only the London hotels were cats 5, 6 and 7. The rest (probably 40) were cats 1-4. Now only 7 Hotels nationwide are cats 1-4.
I guess I could pack my bags and move elsewhere but all the hotel chains deflate their points. So far this year Marriott has been the most egregious offender though it's worth remembering that Hilton no longer recategorises annually, thus ensuring it avoids the annual whinge-fest that is the category shift announcements. That and its seasonal pricing means Hilton can deflate points like the government does money, steadily and sneakily. And of course switching to Hilton means staying in their aged and cramped inventory. Then there's HHonors points, or more aptly HiltonPesos, you need 40,000 of them for a Hampton near the Toronto car plant, the local Marriott FFI there is 10,000. Hiltons top category is 95,000 points per night! And you STILL have to stay in Hilton's to earn them! No thanks!
So beware, you may pack up your bags and go elsewhere, but all the chains deflate their points. They have to, and will always have to, as long as our governments deflate our cash.
You are so close to achieving Lifetime Gold Elite. My advice would be to not give up all that time and money over the years to switch to Hilton or Hyatt. You already have the necessary nights, you just need to reach the 1.6 mil points and you will be LTG. I would personally strive for that.
Saying you will switch to Hilton or Hyatt is an obvious course of action but based on what I have read from several different travel blogs and sites like Flyertalk, Hilton isn't any better in several respects. Upgrades, insane number of points for free nights, etc. Hyatt does have some great properties but their network is tiny compared to Marriott and finding a property where you will be traveling isn't easy a good percentage of the time. The same holds true for SPG. I personally really like Westin properties but they are so scarce it makes staying at them difficult.
I agree that Marriott rewards system is not perfect, but then probably the others aren't either. One has to judge based on their needs. For me and my family, staying at Marriott hotels is great. First, because of the huge number of hotels everywhere I want to go. I love the Marriott Grande Ocean (MVC) on Hilton Head Island or the Marriott BeachPlace in Fort Lauderdale, and until now I was able to snatch great rates (corporate). Hilton properties in FLL weren't even close in price and quality. Last year I had accumulated 4 free nights certs on the MegaBonus promos and one from the credit card, so on a family vacation we had 5 free nights at the Renaissance Naples in Italy, and being Gold we had free breakfast on their roof top terrace with an awesome view towards Vesuvius. That view was priceless! We have also stayed two years ago using points at the Marriott County Hall in London, also being Gold at the time we had a wonderful corner room upgrade viewing the Thames and London Eye, and free breakfast - only these 5 nights would have costed around $3000 at the regular rates. We've also stayed at several Paris locations using points, etc.
So I can say that to date I have been able to get the most of my Marriott points, and I'm really happy staying at Marriott. Yes, the points required for free nights increase every year, but the way I see it, with the promos (MegaBonus) Marriott does offer an offset.
Grass is always greener on the other side...until you get to it, and then....