Below is an email I sent to David Babich, Chief Customer Officer of MVC. I apologize for the length, but I want to express my concens and suggest potential solutions. I am anxious to hear other MVC owners feedback to these suggestions, and will let you know when I receive a response.
As a long-term, multiple week MVC owner and a lifetime Marriott Rewards platinum member, I hope you will consider my concerns and suggestions for restoring the value of Marriott timeshare ownership. The recent and previous Marriott Reward point devaluations have greatly disappointed MVC owners who purchased their timeshares with the good faith that Marriott would continue to provide fair value for their investment.I purchased my first timeshare at Royal Palms in January, 1990, and currently own five weeks across the country. At that time, the 110,000 point exchange opportunity meant that I could stay 7 nights in any Marriott resort worldwide if I decided not to use my two bedroom unit at Marriott World Center. Now, I am lucky to get a 7 night stay in a low market Courtyard for my points. My costs to own have increased more than 5% per year, but the value of my purchase has been greatly diminished. Additionally, I have been greatly disappointed in my exchange experiences with Interval International. It seems that the only high quality properties participating in their program are other MVC resorts. It has been my experience that other quality resorts have no availability. Therefore, they add no value to the exchange process.
These are my suggestions regarding how to restore the value of MVC ownership so that owners will again feel comfortable in recommending it to friends.
1. Either increase the number of points, or provide other bonuses when members deposit their weeks for points. If contracts restrict your flexibility to increase the points allocated, then offer other bonuses (dinner for 2 awards, free weekly breakfast vouchers, free night certificates) that will provide fair value for the exchange. If you do not take action in this area, Marriott will see significant decreases in the units they will have available to rent to non-owners.
2. Offer the opportunity to exchange with other MVC owners without having to go through Interval. Provide ownership benefits (villa location, etc. ) to owners who exchange with other owners. Provide a forum for owners to communicate with other owners regarding longer-term exchange opportunities. I currently ‘exchange’ with other owners I know, but our opportunities are limited. Many owners would be happy to only exchange to other MVC properties.
3. Add a MVC forum to the Marriott Rewards Insiders chat room. This will provide an excellent opportunity for MVC owners to learn from the experiences of others. MVC issues are frequent topics today, but there is no specific forum to cover our issues. The MVC website is not conducive to exchange of ideas and suggestions.
If something isn’t done in the near future, you will see the growth of MVC come to a standstill. Current owners will not recommend ownership to others, and many will sell out. I am anxious to learn your plans to address these issues.
SuperChief,"Add a MVC forum to the Marriott Rewards Insiders" is a great idea. I am sure that not many members are aware of what is happening with points. I was at MRT Phuket Beach resort in early February this year, and at a welcome party everyone was 'Wooping for a guy that had accumulated 3,000,000 points. He didn't realise that the value had dropped 60%..he went quite pale when I told him! Like you my first purchase was at MRP in 1986. As I have said in an earlier, message, you could get far greater value from the Rewards then than you can get now. I think we should ask Marriott to DOUBLE the points and so match 1986 levels.( Don't let them get away with free dinner!) After all that raise is only keeping up with inflation. During my first purchase it was explained to me that the awards work by my accepting what would otherwise be an empty hotel room/rental car/restaurant/cruise ship/airplane etc, and Marriott gets to rent out my apartment at the market rate, and it's all profit to them, as I have paid all the expenses! It was a win/win situation.
I will not claim Reward points any longer, so that might just have a financial implication for Marriott. However I do not know whether to sell my time. I might not be able to travel the world visiting Marriott hotels anymore, and I realise that Interval has very few resorts to match Marriott standards ( The exchange also costs more) Therefore my exchange opportunity is limited to about 20 locations- Marriott claims to have more, but many of them are clustered close together.I praised Marriott for the first 22 years, now I found myself strongly critisizing them - especially when I meet people who are on an inspection tour! The truth frightens them, and they no longer believe what the sales rep has told them. Let me know what the CCO has to say in reply. Sunny wishes.
As a multiple week Marriott Vacation Club owner, thank you for taking the lead in writing to David Babich, volunteering to share any replies and most of all - inviting owner feedback and discussion.
I think that the challenge we face is about tighter brand integration between Marriott Vacation Club as a brand and Marriott Rewards as a cross-brand offering. That said, I agree that Marriott Rewards Insiders is the appropriate venue for discussion.
Again, thanks for the invite!
I was impressed by the quickness of the MVC response, but am disappointed in the content. It appears that nothing is planned to be done unless other owners complain and MVC sales continue to drop. It is interesting that Hyatt and Hilton are mentioned as Interval participants even though the Hyatt Key West resorts seem to never have exchange availabiltiy. Here the reply to my plea for help.
Thank you for your thoughtful email to Mr. David Babich regarding your Marriott Vacation Club International ownership and sharing your suggestions for our programs. We appreciate the opportunity to communicate with you on your concerns.
The MVCI program participates in the Rewards program so that you may visit locations around the world where MVCI does not have facilities. Not intended to replace your week, rather to offer options unique to MVCI owners, the Trade for Points option, Rental, etc. are offered to you over and above the contractual agreement of time at your home resort. There are no plans to increase the number of points that you may Trade for, however we have made changes to the redemption portion of Rewards.
Last year when we raised the points required for our high end brands we also lowered the cost for our lower and mid-range brands, we now offer your fifth (and tenth and so on) night free when reserving four consecutive nights with points and we eliminated all black out dates worldwide, at a cost of millions, as well as a 20% bonus increase to Platinum Rewards members.
These changes were developed from the direct input of owners and Rewards members via a large survey done in 2008. Less than 2% of certificate requests were for 7 night stays and an overwhelming majority requested the absence of black out dates.
Several times over the years Marriott has explored internal exchanging among our owners and the logistics and cost have proven prohibitive. Since we are always looking to improve owner enjoyment I won't say never but it is not likely in the near future.
I am surprised that you have not found Interval exchanges enjoyable since both Hilton and Hyatt participate and I hear wonderful feedback about their resorts. When Interval offers you an exchange be sure to request details from the Customer Survey Index (CSI) on that particular resort. It is a compilation of owner feedback after they have visited and is the most reliable rating of the resort.
Unfortunately a Marriott sponsored owners' forum could easily be construed as facilitating exchanges and we are not licensed as an exchange company. But you may find what you are looking for at the online site TUG (Timeshare Users Group). Many Marriott owners participate there.
Again, thank you for your considerable contribution, it will be shared with our leadership.
Patricia F. Potts
Customer Advocacy Manager
Marriott Vacation Club International
"we eliminated all black out dates worldwide, at a cost of millions".... oh, so not true as TJCNewYork pointed out to me in a previous post. Amazing, isn't it, that Marriott's employees are not even aware of their policy?
There are a number of hotels not participating or not fully participating in 'no black out dates'. Please see TJCNewYork's post:
Regrets - the Grand Flora is one of five hotels NOT participating in the No Blackout Dates policy. I found the information by accident. The list is buried under paragraph 13, see Hotel Rewards.
I agree with you that I had been a very satisfied MVC owner for several years, and recommended ownership to several others. I purchased my timeshares primarily with the purpose of using or exchanging my weeks, but liked having the backup opportunity to exchange for points when I could not use a week. I purchased my additional week at the new Oceana Palms resort last year with the intent of spending 3 consecutive weeks in the Palm Beach area in the future when I retire. Now I own 5 weeks with only 3 weeks vacation, and the point exchange option has no value. I find Interval exchange opportunities to be very limited, and MVC appears to be totally out of touch with their owners. I suggest that all owners stop redeeming their ownership weeks for points, and work with the board of directors at their resorts to convince MVC to provide an acceptable solution.
Note: Did you notice in my response from MVC that they stated that point requirements for lower level properties have been reduced. I am not aware of any reduction in point requirements. The no blackout policy is a sham, since many hotels and resorts only have available reward rooms at an upgrade charge. I had no problems with blackouts in the old program.
I agree that the response time is very impressive and the content somewhat disappointing. But, I think you're off to a very good start:
"There are no plans to increase the number of points that you may Trade for, however we have made changes to the redemption portion of Rewards."
With 400,000+ MVCI owners, increasing the number of points that a week can trade for is very complex and subject to legal risk. I interpret, "No plans" as an invitation to come up with creative and innovative solutions "that merit consideration." Elite Rollover Nights and Double Nights was incubated here at Marriott Insiders and bubbled up to corporate.
"Marriott has explored internal exchanging among our owners and the logistics and cost have proven prohibitive."
I signed up for Marriott Marquis in 1983, and purchased my first MVCI week in 1995 at MIP, MRP's sibling. Since then, I've been asking about counting MVCI nights to qualify for Elite status. Apparently, I was not alone. Without formal announcement, MVCI nights began to appear in my Marriott Rewards Activity online since June 30, 2008 when the system integration was rolled out. About six weeks ago, an Owner Services rep advised that Owner Services was being crossed trained to assist owners with booking reservations either paid or using points. When I received e-mail confirmation from MVCI for my MIP home resort stay, owner services was unable to connect my Marriott Rewards number to the Reservation. I had to call Platinum Elite. So now, all of my upcoming reservations including weeks exchanged with Interval now show up in Upcoming Reservations at Marriott.com. The point of this rambling is that Marriott faces a huge backend integration challenge. That's among the contributing factors, "logistics and cost have proven prohibitive." Candidly, I prefer that Marriott time the rollout so that the fees we pay contribute to maintaining and staffing our resorts so that our vacation experience is NOT impacted.
"Since we are always looking to improve owner enjoyment I won't say never but it is not likely in the near future."
Bottom line is that there is brand integration in the works. Inviting more owners to participate in the discussion and contribute ideas provides an opportunity for group vetting. The value is that an idea will surface that adds value. As stated above, it's already occured with Elite Rollover Nights*, so I'm very optimistic that Ms. Patricia Potts and her counterparts will be listening.
So, the challenge is to keep the discussion going, double the number of owners participating, vet the ideas. As MVCI owners, we are primary stakeholders in the outcome. The reason we purchased vacations from Marriott is because there was and still is a value proposition. Since Marriott is committed to "improve owner enjoyment" it's up to us to tell them how.
"I suggest that all owners work with the board of directors at their resorts to convince MVC to provide an acceptable solution."
While an interesting approach, I suspect that it is outside the scope of the board of directors. They do represent owner interests, but their primary role is to provide guidance to MVCI management on maintaining the assets, operations and budget of their resort in a manner consistent with MVCI brand standards, the by-laws and respective state statutes.
Marriott timeshare is deeded property subject to federal and state statutes. Marriott Rewards on the other hand are not (real property). Escalating non-statutory concerns to the BOD is a very slippery slope.
That said, why give up so easily? I see the response you received as GREAT PROGRESS! Rather than a deaf ear, you received a reply! Clearly, Marriott thrives on guest feedback. Continue the crusade for Fair Value Exchange. Already, you have a great discussion going. Keep it up.
I would be interested in seeing a survey of MVC owners today vs. a year ago. I would no longer recommend MVC ownership to people unless they primarily planned to use their home resort.
The Marriott business model relies heavily on multiple week owners and recommendations by owners. The rewards point option allowed the fliexibility to bank points when you could not use your week. This option was basically eliminated, since it is no longer a fair value. As a result, MVC will lose recommendations from owners, ownership multiple week expansion, as well as deposited weeks for rental.
I thought my suggestions to David Babich offered valid suggestions and concerns, and therefore was very disappointed when I received the 'standard' reply from a customer care staff member. I sent a second email with additional suggestions (including applying elite bonuses to the points) and a request for reply from management, I never received a response. I am hopeful that others will expess their concerns and share suggestions, and that eventually something will be done. A large part of our maintenance fees go to Marriott, and the rental units are very profitable, especially in locations near resorts or conference centers. They need us as much as we need them.
Superchief: "I would be interested in seeing a survey of MVC owners today vs. a year ago."
The participants in the online survery represent less than one thousandth of one percent of MVCI owners. It's far from accurate.
Superchief: "I am hopeful that others will expess their concerns and share suggestions, and that eventually something will be done."
As more owners gain awareness, your efforts will gain momentum. Marriott Rewards didn't start counting MVCI nights to qualify for Elite status just because owners requested it. It was implemented because Marriott Rewards GAINED the ability to market to 400,000+ owners directly.
"MVC will lose recommendations from owners, ownership multiple week expansion"
My wife and I have been planning 10 and 15 day vacations for years. So, creating Trade for Point packages around 5 day increments coupled with the option for mid-week check-in/check-out at our home resorts ADDS to our enjoyment. Bonus points would add even more.
A coworker recently shared that she likes to rent a 4 bedroom beach house in the Caribbean every year for a week. The $10,000 package comes with a driver, maid, cook and meals. Usually, younger siblings and their families join her and chip in. At that burn rate, she could buy the house, hire people and rent it. Or, she could consider timeshare. That way she could leave vacation ownership as her legacy to her spouse, children and/or siblings.
The point is Marriott Vacation Club created a timeshare product to meet the needs of the marketplace. MVCI is striving continuously to track how the market for vacation ownership is changing. The value of vacation ownership and my relationship with Marriott does not begin and end with points, we're talking about deeded property that will become part of our estate. We understood that the value persists over time, that's why we bought it in the first place.
On that basis, MVCI continues to deliver upon the promise and retains my highest referral.
About 5% of the respondents to a timeshare poll might agree with your comment. But, by a factor of 11, 55%+ of respondents claim they are happy with Marriott ownership. As high as that percentile might seem, Marriott Vacation Club knows that 55% is NOT good enough. Striking a parallel with the Freddie Awards, MVCI really needs to be in the 90 percentile.
My hunch is that tighter brand integration between Marriott Vacation Club and Marriott Rewards can and will get them the 90 percentile rating. Using Superchief's suggestions as a starting point:
What else should our list include?
I want to clarify my comment. I was not referring to the TUG survey. I would like to see MVC conduct a survey among owners today, and compare those results to a year ago (assuming they conducted a similar survey last year). If the other owners I know are represenative of the majority, Marriott needs a wakeup call. I believe that owners would now be less likely to recommend MVC ownership to friends.
I have never participated in a MVC survey other than those for the sales presentation experience. Have any other owners received a survey about their satisfaction with MVC ownership?
As a market researcher, I had always respected Marriot's use of marketing research to develop and improve their hotels and services. Hopefully, they are not cutting back drastically in this area to save money.
"I would like to see MVC conduct a survey among owners today, and compare those results to a year ago (assuming they conducted a similar survey last year). If the other owners I know are representative of the majority, Marriott needs a wakeup call."
Regrets on misunderstanding your comment. Since the move to count MVCI nights towards qualifying for Elite status was implemented on the basis of feedback from multiple sources, we can speculate that a survey of some kind was done, but not published in the public domain.* (See Postscript 5/14 below) I agree with you that if Marriott were to reach out and engage MVCI owners in a 2009 survey, the results would speak volumes.
"I have never participated in a MVC survey other than those for the sales presentation experience. Have any other owners received a survey about their satisfaction with MVC ownership?"
Neither have I. Like you, I am extremely candid giving feedback post-sales presentation.
* Postscript 5/14: I learned that Marriott Vacation Club conducted a survey in November 2008 about a new initiative, Vacation Points Exchange Program. Several MVCI owners received an invitation to participate in the survey via e-mail which pointed to an online survey tool. Superchief - Did you recall this survey? (I did a thorough search of my Inbox and there is no trace of it.)
I 100% agree with everything you say. I boughtb in 1987 when my 110,000 points (and approx. $350 annual maintenance fee) bought 9 nights in any hotel worldwide and 2 coach tickets anywhere in the world...
Identical story here. I too get 110k points and initially paid $350 maintenance. I recall so clearly during the sales process when I pressed the sales person about maintenance fees and how concerned I was about them. She said that in all the years she was there, they had only gone up by $10 to $20 every few years.
Now that my fees have gone up 300% and my 110k is pretty much worthless, I share the same angst as a lot of my MVCI compadres here.
But on the bright side, should I decide to purchase another week somewhere, I'll get one off of a distressed seller on eBay and save 75% from Marriott's price. Marriott would say "but you won't get any points if you don't purchase from us" to which I'd just roll my eyes.
Thanks for your well written post. Here are my thoughts.
Our one week Grande Vista 2 bedroom costs us roughly $900 in maintenance fees annually. Today I can exchange the 90,000 points I recieve in lieu of usage for 3 nights at the Marriott World Center, which I see as a comparable property. I just checked the Marriott Rewards website, 30,000 points or $200 cash for 1 night at the Marriott World. Clearly I am better off if use my unit, rather than exchange for points.
About once a year we attend a sales presentation in Orlando at the MVCI sales center. I have expressed my concern about the lack of exchange opportunities, within MVCI and Interval International, I am told I simply need to become better skilled in the art of exchanging. Is there a class in it? How do I hone my "skills"? Since the person who originally sold us our unit has left Marriott, we are considered "orpahans" at the sales center, and therefore do not have an assigned sales rep who might be able to help us build this valuable "skill". However, we are told each time we visit that if we buy another unit from the sales person we are now talking to, or refer a friend who buys a unit, they will be our new sales person, and more than happy to help us get the maximum use of our ownership. That is a lousy way to get the help I already paid for.
We really like the vacation club experience. In my opinion, it is currently a better use of one's money to make a reservation and pay cash when you want this type of vacation, rather than purchasing a week at a MVCI resort. I base my opinion of 3 facts:
1. The point value deflation that has occured since our purchase.
2. The annual fee inflation.
3. The devaluation of the real estate market.
Marriott can change this situation if they want to do so. If one week is worth 90,000 point to Marriott, then give me a week a a comparable property for the same amount of points. An even trade, a week for a week. I have paid the cost of maintaining my unit, and Marriott has paid the cost to maintain their unit. The economic cost to each party should be the same. Alternatively, open up an internal exchange that provides value to the MVC owners. Marriott may see this as not being in their best interest, since fewer units would be available for them to provide their partners, and other Marriott reward members. MCVI members can not continue to be burdened with the cost of providing valuable property to Marriott, without being fairly compensated. No one will want to buy the product. Marriott must look at this situation if they want to stay in the vacation property business.
"Is there a class in it? How do I hone my "skills"?"
That's an EXCELLENT question and the answer is 'YES'. You have several options to hone your skills so that you can maximize the benefits of vacation ownership:
MVCIOwner is correct. The Marriott Vacation Club counterpart on the Hilton side is Hilton Grand Vacations Club. Timeshare exchange for Hilton is managed by RCI, Resorts Condominium International. RCI is a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide. Marriott Vacation Club does not participate in RCI.