This is the year when we've watched our travel budget shrink, our 401K disappear, and our spirits drop. I got to thinking that Marriott will be seeing an across-the-board decrease in loyal customers staying and that Marriott could proactively change this to benefit the corporation and of course, to work for us.
Here's my idea: Why not create a momentum system for renewal and recognition of Marriott Rewards' most loyal customers? Renewal of levels would be based on a longer pattern of loyalty, not just 12 months. This would recognize not just stays within the past twelve months, but say the past 36 or 48 months.
I've posted here in the past my feeling that Marriott would be wise to begin allowing rollover nights, those in excess of the 75 needed for Platinum renewal, as a way to compensate for reduced travel in economic hard times, like the ones were in now. A Momentum Program would recognize us, the frequent traveler as the clientele that pays and stays the most and needs to be helped make lean years work for all.
Speaking with a friend at Marriott, owner occupancy on the timeshare side has increased at many resorts; but renter occupancy has slipped about 30%. The slippage on the hotel side is more significant, in fact, they are struggling with the increased cost to operate in a down market.
Rollover nights or a Rollover Credit is a great suggestion, but I think it will take more than that to restore confidence levels and regain loyalty.
I like that idea, but I think the best long-term incentive is the way my preferred airline does it. They track lifetime stats. For my airline, if you fly 1 million lifetime miles, you get lifetime Silver. 2 million lifetime miles = lifetime Gold. 3 million lifetime miles = lifetime Platinum.
That way, if you are a good Marriott customer for many many years, you can be rewarded by getting a permanent status.
For road warriors like me, if I stay at Marriott for the next 10 years, bringing them lots of revenue, and then decide to get a "regular" job with no or little travel, it would be nice to see that Marriott remembers me and appreciates the years that I enriched them. I would then be more likely to choose Marriott for an occasional vacation a few times a year.
Your suggestion is spot-on. Rather than create a separate loyalty program, I'd like to see a much tighter brand integration between Marriott's loyalty program, Marriott Rewards and the Marriott Vacation Club. Given the feedback from thousands of timeshare owners Marriott is doing exactly that. The effort started last year.
One of the first hurdles came June 30, 2008. Quietly, owners who stayed at their home resort or exchanged through Interval International to another Marriott resort and presented a Marriott Rewards membership ID at check-in received credit for each night stayed towards qualifying for Silver, Gold or Platinum Elite status. There was no announcement, but I saw the activity posted on my MR account in November prompting a call to Owner Services and Marriott Rewards.
Another brand integration challenge is the inclusion of Marriott Vacation Clubs into the reservation system engine of Marriott.com. I noticed that MVCI properties with studio, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom villas were beginning to show up for point redemption. Some even have Pointsavers!
The Marriott Vacation Club brand is built on the value proposition that vacation ownership provides the comforts and luxury of home with the amenities of a resort. The properties are not intended to be full-service like a hotel; they are designed to be a home-away-from-home and deliver unforgetable family vacation experiences.
The difference, I think, presents a challenge in guest expectations. For example, there are 390,000 MVCI owners compared to 30,000,000 Marriott Rewards members. Clearly, the business travel community is much larger than the vacation ownership community - and expectations about service vary widely. Marriott is quick to recognize the growing trend of combining business travel and leisure travel. Last week I called Owner Services to deposit one of my weeks with Interval. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Owner Services is being cross-trained with Marriott Reservations so that they are better able to assist owners with reservations as a type of Owner Elite extension of Marriott Rewards. They didn't use those words, but that was the sense of it.
Tighter brand integration will facilitate more efficient service delivery to MVCI owners. To me that ~is~ an enhancement!
Agreed. Charging extra for Internet access is like charging extra for hot water. Admittedly, the infrastructure for internet service isn't exactly 'nothing' but the cost can be offset by advertising. Marriott could invite sponsorship by selected business partners (HERTZ) and marketing affiliates (CHASE VISA).
As recently announced, Marriott discontinues paper delivery. The press release does not state that the decision is part of 'Go Green' initiative, but it could be interpreted that way: Marriott Celebrates Earth Hour.
Encouraging the reduction of paper to reduce the cost of waste management and the impact on the environment is a good strategy and the growing trend. Free internet can help acheive that. See Green Lodging News
It's always been a bone of contention with me that the lower level properties such as Fairfield and Courtyard provide Internet service for free. But what really really really gets me going is when the full service Marriott's only offer a bundled package of Internet and phone service for $13+. Many times I would just like to have the Internet service and would be willing to pay $9 but I feel taken advantage of when I'm forced to pay more for other services that I just have no need for.
This nickel and dimming really upsets me.
I totally agree with you!
Especially when traveling international.
It is really good when you can stay in touch with people in the US and not be under pressure with purchased cards for internet usage. I can't tell you how many times, the front desk people have given me a free card just because there have been problems with their internet and you waste a whole card on a computer that is not working right.
So what's the solution? Are you saying CY and FI already bundle free internet into their rates w/o subsidy by advertising, so why can't the full service brands do the same? Or, are you saying that internet + phone should be offered free, too?
Wireless internet access and up to 72 channels of DirecTV is offered free at Marriott Vacation Club properties as 'brand standard.' MVCI is not a full-service brand but the lack of full service doesn't place the brand on the low end. These services are provided because the owners want it and willing to pay the cost for these services just like housekeeping which are included in the annual maintenance fees.
Commercial television programming is 'free' because it is supported by advertising. Striking a parallel, commercial internet service could be free if advertising supported. If Marriott were to pursue this approach as a solution, would advertising incorporated into a Marriott property landing page be objectionable? Would you expect Marriott to provide secure internet services and parental controls for free too? What would be included in a free bundle? What types of advertising are acceptable or not? What levels of censorship would you expect from Marriott?
I guess I wasn't clear. I don't appreciate it when full service Marriott's bundle Internet and phone service and jack up the price to over $13 since I have no use for their phone service but a lot of use for the Internet connection. In those instances I would like the option to pay for Internet service only for, say, $8 not Internet and phone for $13.
In the end I want a la carte and pay for only what I need.