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My posts re: Ed French and the horrible new "enhanced" program have disappeared. No wonder. I guess this is Marriott's way of dealing with the growing ranks of elite members who are disgusted with this program and the the way was it was rolled out. I do, however, know where Ed French went. He's smiling in the latest Marriott Rewards account summary I recently received. As soon as I can make the break (end of 2009) I will.
Not to single anyone out, I read your four messages among the replies to "Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes forum!". The first two were on-point. The last two including a statement insinuating the 'demotion' of the original author of the forum, and the characterization of rewards members who chose not to voice agreement as 'lemmings' were very colorful, but may have been at odds with the terms and conditions agreed to when joining this online travel community.
Focusing on the positive, the 'forum by forum' analysis where you switched the number of replies with the number of views; and later stepped up to admit the error caught my attention. Frankly, it compelled some benchmarking of the 2008 rewards structure against 2009. Thanks to the analysis done by Pinegreeman, Re: frustration with new rewards policy, we now see that the 50% Bonus over the 30% Bonus is most definitely an enhancement over 2008.
The hospitality industry is under significant pressure to balance the costs to operate including higher labor, runaway energy costs and over-the-top insurance premiums - especially in the most popular destinations subject to flooding, hurricanes and seismic conditions. I know this because I own two weeks at a Marriott timeshare resort in central Florida. Owners receive periodic newsletters with updates on the annual budget.
Do you have any idea what these increases do to an operating budget?
Timeshare maintenance fees are fast approaching a threshold where the dollar to rewards points exchange ratio requires serious scrutiny by Marriott. On the hotel side the increased costs to operate in 2009 correlates to the structure of the 2009 Rewards. It doesn't matter if a stay is paid or points, everything costs more.
As the frustration with 'sticker shock' intensified, and the gap in communications with Marriott grew wider, the shrill became louder. I definitely agree that Marriott could have done a much better job rolling out the new program. Unfortunately, there is no do over. The "Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes forum!" vanished on February 24. On a hunch, I printed all 52 pages to a PDF file the night before. There were 636 replies in all with a grand total of 27,585 views.
What a shame, no other single topic even comes close.
"As soon as I can make the break (end of 2009) I will."
That's regrettable. We're compelled to participate in Insiders by the invitation, "Join the Conversation." Many responded looking to belong to Marriott's "Online Travel Community."
Posting messages about hotel experiences, sightseeing and exchanging tips about earning or redeeming rewards is absolutely essential to forming online community. Content compels members to come back, read and continue the conversation.
"Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes Forum!" is unmatched. The conversation included 636 posts and was viewed 27,852 times. When it vanished, Marriott took away the reason for several hundred users to return. Not only was the value of their rewards eroded, now the conversations they were having about it was removed!
Recently, Marriott took a step in the direction that favors a shared objective to build a vibrant and thriving online travel community. I say that because it's not just Marriott, it's evident from posts that having a community like Insiders is desirable. Now, instead of having users wait 24 hours to view the content submitted, user posts are visible instanteously.* Kudos to our host, Marriott for taking that step.
Conversations are inherent to community life and disagreement will surface. Resolution is a process of learning what is shared. Resolution also surfaces new ideas and viable solutions. In that spirit, Marriott, restore "Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes Forum".
If you are reading this, welcome back. Kudos to Marriott! All 636 messages posted as of February 23, 2009 in the disccussion thread, Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes forum! have been restored.