I was reading an article in a Money mag that loosely suggested that due to the downturn in travel and the economy in general (Marriott is down 48%) that hotels would cut many programs. It got me thinking about what Marriott's policy is about the value of points should they discontinue or suspend the rewards program.
I remember reading in the T&C's that Marriott could discontinue the program at anytime but I am curious if there would be a period where we could use our points.
I currently have about 450,000 points and would hate to have them voided.
In addition to all the vendors, franchisees and affiliate business partners, Marriott Rewards is tightly integrated with the incentives offered when purchasing Marriott timeshare. To get you to buy during pre-construction phase, they offer bonus points as high as 200,000+ points.
The Rewards program is also joined at the hip with Marriott's policy on timeshare exchange. Depending upon your contract, you can exchange your week for points. Mine is limited to every other year.
While the possibility is always there, Marriott would have to notice 350,000+ owners plus all the members, franchisees, travel partners and vendors. It would be catastrophic to see a major player like Marriott have to do that.
I saw that arricle as well as others in the WS Journal about falling occupancy and profits in hospitality. But I think that Marriott will think long and hard before ending the MR program (of course the stocks I formerly owned, I told myself, would never drop as far as they had before I sold them).
Stepping Stone, I agree with your analysis. Marriott has the largest number of members in the loyalty program and diversified broadly through gift merchandising, timeshare sales, air travel, car rental and more that retaining market share is the business case for continuation of Marriott Rewards.
As you and others point out, Marriott Rewards is about customer loyalty. Customer loyalty depends upon more than instant gratification through points, upgrades or travel perks. When one is away from home, loyalty depends heavily upon the sense of hospitality, security and well-being that a brand like Marriott will provide.
To those that claim Marriott has "devalued" the program, I do not agree - at all. Hospitality, security and well-being do not revolve around points. In order to be the best hospitality provider, Marriott must attract, train and retain the best associates. A sense of security arises from one's physical surroundings and confidence that while you are away from home, you have the freedom to close the hotel door and not be fearful of intruders, or having your health threatened by smoke, fire, mold or allergens. Marriott has taken the lead in defining what it takes to provide comfort and well-being starting with a spotless room and the Revive bedding package.
When I'm travel weary and away from home, the last thing I want in unfamiliar surroundings is a poor nights sleep. Take away the sense of well-being that comes with a good nights rest and Marriott, for me, has undermined my loyalty and 'devalued' Marriott Rewards.
Let's get real. The timeshare side of Marriott is about family leisure, it's a whole business built around extending hospitality, security, well-being and comfort of the business traveller to his/her family. Marriott doesn't pull people off the street to take a sales tour, they reach out to guests in their hotels. If a guest does not feel welcome or comfortable in a Marriott hotel, they will certainly not buy a Marriott vacation.
With Marriott Vacation Club owners topping 350,000+ Marriott would be very hard pressed to take away Marriott Rewards. The percentage of MVC owners who chose Marriott Rewards points over any other option is as high as 70% at some resorts. That's staggering and underscores the success of Marriott Rewards.
This is not the 1st economic downturn that has hurt the the hotel industry. Hotels were pretty vacant after 9/11 and the frequent traveler programs survivied. I am not scared that marriott would curtial there points program. They have just devauled their program a few months ago and killing the program would be such a hit on their loyal customers. I am a life time platinum member and even though I have noticed a significant decrease in customers in the properties I am staying at and cut back in staffing and ammenities and maitenence I dont forsee a killing of the Marriott rewards program
Marriott's fine print says that the program can be canceled with no notice, that the points evaporate, etc.
Here is the web language:
Marriott Rewards membership and its benefits are offered at the discretion of Marriott. Marriott and its travel partners have the right, without limitation, to change, limit, modify or cancel Program Rules, regulations, rewards, and reward levels at any time, with or without notice, even though such changes may affect the value of points or miles already accumulated, the ability to use accumulated points or miles, or the ability to obtain certain rewards. Marriott and its travel partners may, among other things: (a) increase or decrease the number of points or miles received for a stay or required for a reward; (b) withdraw, limit, modify, or cancel any reward or category; (c) add blackout dates, limit rooms available for reward redemption at any participating hotel, change or restrict participating hotels, or otherwise restrict the continued availability of rewards; (d) change program benefits, travel partners, locations served by Marriott or its travel partners, conditions of participation, rules for earning, redeeming, retaining, or forfeiting points or miles, or rules governing the use of rewards; (e) change or cancel its travel partner rewards. The accumulation of points or miles does not entitle members to any vested rights with respect to points, miles, rewards, or program benefits. In accumulating points or miles, members may not rely upon the continued availability of any reward or reward level.