Just got an email indicating that based on my Marriott Platinum Premier status the folks at Intercontinental Hotels, the IHC group, upgraded me to their highest level, Platinum, at no charge and with no stay requirements for the rest of 2009.
This shows that the world of loyalty programs is very competitive, and that with sufficient pressure (I just asked and they granted me the status after proof that I was a Platinum was sent) each of the chains will try to accomodate reasonable requests.
This IHC Platinum upgrade also shows that, in a declining revenue environment, the market favors the person who has been loyal over a period of time. In days of yore I was a member of the Six Continents Club, a somewhat exclusive bunch who were recognized by Intercontinental as special guests deserving special treatment. I doubt that kind of treatment exists anymore but am willing to be proven wrong when I make a fact finding trip to one of their hotels (we have one here in Monterey as a matter of fact).
IHCs Platinum level has the 50% points bonus, plus upgrades to better rooms and suites if available. Early check in and out, etc. I have not stayed in an Intercontinental for over 20 years, and only in Europe, but the hotels were excellent then. Here's hoping they haven't changed.
Depending upon how one looks at it, the title of the post could be flipped, 'Loyal Customers favor Competition.' It appears that the authors of the 2009 changes completely underestimated the impact of sticker shock. Compounded by a poor economy, sticker shock compels shifts in behavior, and changes in preference. What's needed is a clear corporate directive to roll-back the 2009 changes followed by a letter of apology. Otherwise, the competitors who can respond fast will pick up the business.
Postscript 3/26: The 3 for 2 Resort Redemption Special* recently announced (3/24) which includes a mere 55 hotels worldwide isn't exactly a roll-back but it is a step in that direction. My hunch is that it is a test promotion, there isn't even a corporate code assigned to it yet. For the hundreds if not thousands of Elites like yourself you have already shifted behavior and/or changed brand preference, the 3 for 2 is more like an 'olive', rather than Ric Garrido's 'olive branch'. Let's see what the next olive will be. "Ojala" let's hope to God it is an apology.
Never give up--remember the New Coke or the 1984 commercial Apple used only once? Corporate decisions can be reversed and not for any particular reason other than public relations.
I was the Director of Public Affairs for a huge (very) organization, which shall remain nameless. Our goal was to look good and actually be good. We valued what our customers said, tried to accomodate them, and hopefully did a good job. Complaints were taken seriously, and when feasable, acted on. At times the ability to change something depended on changing a lot of other things, including bedrock principles, so we politely did not make the change, but we issued a statement explaining why.
The economy being what it is the last thing Marriott wants, it seems to me, is a group of loyal but discomforted customers.