Amenities, selection, availability, personal service; what do you value most from your hotel providers? As a professional traveler I have recently realized one of the most important things to me are timely and accurate rewards credits. I travel full-time, as a consultant, and make my own travel arrangements; often scheduling travel for multiple engagements weeks in advance.
It is very frustrating to have to arrange hotels, airfare, rental cars, and also track expense reporting and client billings. Now throw on top if this, tracking down reward credits.
I will readily admit that I am a points hound. I have stayed in hotels over 200 nights in the last 12 months and for my family's sacrifice I am going to get every point due me. Recently I have began considering the timeliness and accuracy of rewards postings and have seen measurable differences between brands of hotels, even within the Marriott family. I thought it would be interesting to hear from other full time travelers and provide some feedback to the forum.
You raise valid points about timely posting of Rewards Points. Accuracy is rarely an issue.
I've noticed that posting is less timely with the Limited Service vs. Full Service brands. Just last week the e-folios and 'Thanks for Staying' e-mails arrived, my bank statement showed the debits correctly, but my Rewards account was not updated.
Anxious to book a reservation and redeem the points for upcoming leisure travel, I called. Guest Services advises that shared services through a district or regional office is common among the Limited Service brands so it can take longer. The service level agreement is up to two weeks to post Rewards. The Guest Services agent had to call each hotel and verify each stay while I was on the line! While extremely courteous, polite and responsive, I can foresee what problems might occur having to chased down stays over 3 months! That would be torture and make 2x the work.
With real-time transaction processing already in use at Marriott.com (reservations and e-mail confirmation), it is a very reasonable expectation that points and Elite Qualifying Nights be posted to the Rewards account concurrently with the e-folio. However, I do not expect that efolio would contain Rewards information. If receipts are turned in for expense reimbursement, one's Rewards account information is not subject to disclosure.
Above: eFolio for corporate travel
Truth is loyalty points feature heavily in my decision,
- Marriott gets a lot of my business because they have a great program
But, I spend literally most of my life in hotels, so also at the top of the list are :-
1) Healthy eating options (Marriott brands in the US score very low on this)
2) Well-equipped fitness centers (Marriott brands again tend to score very low on this - typical Courtyard 'fitness center' is 3 treadmills, and maybe a few dumb-bells if you are lucky)
3) Good environment for sleep / rest / working (this means digital temperature control in the room, good lighting, and most importantly GOOD SOUND INSULATION - this is the most difficult value proposition to find)
I was in Brazil a year or two ago and stayed at lot at Novotel (an Accor brand that is big in Europe and South America) - it was a similar price point to Courtyard, but the food was much healthier, the fitness center was more like what you'd see at a JW Marriott in the USA, and you could set room temperature digitally, rather then mess around with a dial on some wall mounted air-conditioner unit. I'd suggest Marriott marketing should make a field trip down there for ideas on how to differentiate their brands.
Good points in each of these posts. But, back to jndcoff's orginal beef, I agree that you should never have to "track down" your earned points. Very aggravating. Although I rarely experience delay in posting of my points, the Marriott process for handling missed stays...fax a copy of the bill, wait 2 weeks, then call since points are still not posted, have to fax again this time to a particular clerk...well you get the point, a pain. Agree with TJC that with Marriott's reservation and reward redemption technical capabilities, you'd think a stroke of the key at the time of check in would award arrival gift points, and the same action at check out to award points for the stay, all in real time. Defintely room for improvement.
Excellent question and posts. As for me, what matters most is the consistency of the lodging establishments across the nation and the world. I would like my Marriott experience in Munich to be the same or better than in Fayettville NC (and I am not picking on the Carolinas here, just using that place as an example.) Munich in Ocktoberfest is a thing to savor forever).
What this means in operational terms is that I'd like to have the hotel be clean, safe, accomodating (meaning that it seems to be a welcoming place), and that the personnel (associates) have been given the training and the tools to make my stay enjoyable and even memorable.
So, as for nitty-gritty, I'd like to see amenties that I don't normally expect, including the offer of upgraded rooms, additional Platinum Premier recognition (in the good old days a personal note from the hotel's GM was slipped under my door when I arrived. Often a gift was included--wine, etc.), and last but certainly not least, a feeling that any reasonable request will be honored.
Hope that fills in a few answers.
How about us Lifetime Platinum Members? It takes a lot to get to this level, one could argue more of a committment than a Premium Platinum member. I don't know why it is expressed in this forum that Premium Platinum Members deserve any higher recognition than a Life Time Platinum Member.
Platinum and Platinum Premier are the same thing--according to the Ts & Cs--other than a phone number to call. But the achievement of Platinum Emeritus is really special. However, someone who has made Platinum this year should get the same treatment as someone who is an Emeritus--I think. It is the current level that matters, and hopefully that's what the special treatment will be based on.
My take on the process, from asking questions of operators and talking to customer service: The daily folios are summaraized, billing is confirmed, rates are double checked in the case of group rates or local corporate rates, then posted. Once posted locally by the operator, there is a nightly batch that is run that processes the credit cards, updates the email server that sends the electronic copy of the receipt (if requested on your profile) and processes the rewards credits.
It seems the smaller hotels are more diligent at processing their folios. I believe the greatest source of the issue is when there are group rates involved. I often get asked by clients to use their negotiated rate and our company has many events where customers will meet at hotel conference centers; we get a group rate for the event. I often call the local hotel and they say your rewards number is there, then point to Marriott as the problem, but I suspect it was the operator's problem. I've been waiting for 8 days now for a recent event to close and I think I finally confirmed my suspicion. I kept emailing rewards support and getting generic, just wait for ten days messages. I then called the hotel and demanded to get an explanation. The person at the desk said the sales manager went on vacation and didn't process the group folio. He said the manager was supposed to be back on Saturday to get their stuff done and he suspected the rewards credit would get processed the next night.
So my point seems to be confirmed, the standard on-line reservation in a personal portfolio gets processed automatically, but group rate folios get hand verified and sent up for rewards credit. My suspicion is there is a negotiated rate between the operators and Marriott that is different on group rates than on line rates. We get the same 10-1 rewards credit on the base rate but the escrow to Marriott is probably handled differently.
I just want them settled in a timely manner so I can confirm my credit card charges and get my proper points.
NUHUSKER: in order to save some time, I quit doing the faxing and waiting. If you go to the Contact Us link, their is a subject type for missing stay credit. You can just put the date in and copy the reservation number from your Outlook appointment and send. That has always worked for me and I've never been asked for the faxed copy of the receipt.
I have had the same problem NUHUSKER and some others report. I assumed it was because I travel almost exclusively in Europe and that it takes extra time (though it shouldn't these days) to get to Marriott Headquarters. I almost never stay in group situations, so these are solo Platinum Elite stays at hotels.
However, over the past year I have had to call and fax for about 1 of every 3 stays due to lack of points credit in a timely fashion. (I consider 10 days to be maximum that could be remotely considered timely.) When I tried to use the online form and submit it, nothing happened in each case. Then I call, and they tell me to fax it with a specific attention to a certain person, marked urgent. Then I get the credit, but it's a hassle.
Some European hotels are fantastic about crediting your stay practically the next day -- the Grand Flora, the Ghent Marriott, the Athens Ledra, and the London County Hall. However, as I mentioned in earlier posts, I have had big problems with both the Marriott Central Park Rome (even having to send all details to my Marriott VISA Rewards card) and even worse, the Marriott Courtyard Rome Airport (which I urge everyone to stay away from at all costs). I had a horrible experience at the latter --as a hotel -- and it also took some time to convince Marriott I'd actually stayed there despite the confirmation number.
Since I'm a Delta Platinum Medallion member, I don't understand why Marriotts can't do things the way Delta does in terms of points/mileage credit. As soon as I fly, it is posted, even if I fly on a partner airline. Even when I buy something on Skymiles Shopping, it appears on my Delta account almost immediately. With computers, I find the situation incomprehensible and very inconvenient when I have to spend so much time trying to get my points credited. It seems to me if someone at Marriott HQ made it clear that points were to be posted as soon as possible after checkout via computer, it would happen.
Thanks SteppingStones -- As stated before, there's been much improvement by Marriott over the years in this area. Up until a couple of years ago, it was routine to have to make the calls, fax the bill, etc. The calls alone to the platinum desk never worked since they would connect with the rewards desk to deal with points not being posted. Although I haven't had any problems lately, I suspect from some of the posts, that others are still having problems. Maybe this process will be perfected about the time the wifi/internet issue gets fixed.
same number for platinum customer support...was always re-connected with MR desk where I was instructed to FAX copy of receipt, etc. As I said, hasn't happened in quite a while. Must've made some real improvements to the posting process. Thanks, SteppingStones, and good job, Marriott.
I've noticed an incremental improvement in timely posting of Marriott Rewards activity and EQN (Elite Qualifying Nights). Is it just me or are Elite Insiders noticing the same?
Around August 14th when Jndcoff started this discussion, MR activity lagged about 3 to 4 days behind check-out. Over this past weekend, efolios started arriving w/in 2 days of check-out, an improvement of 33%.
Two examples. The efolio for check-out on Saturday, September 5 at the Inn & Conference Center University of Maryland (full service) arrived on Monday, September 7. MR points and EQN were posted too. The efolio for Courtyard Annapolis, check-out on Sunday, September 5 arrived in this morning's e-mail. With kudos to Marriott, my Marriott Rewards activity and EQN are also updated!
Incremental improvement is good. Real-time is better. Keep it up Marriott!
I noticed the same posting time as we just finished a two week vacation in Atlanta, St Thomas and returned to San Francisco, all where posted within one day.
Update on poor service in St Thomas. We found the staff much better then the postings. We felt that the they where understaffed which caused delays at front desk. Part of the problems where centered around when many guest would check in from the same flight. They had two desk clerks checking in about 25 to 30 people in line.
They gave a "Meet the Manager s reception for platinum elite guests (Wine, cheese etc.) which was nice. I keep thinking someone has been reading the poor posts for this propery and they are trying to correct it, St Thomas was enjoyable and we will give this property another chance.
St John beaches are to die for, best I have ever been to.
Great review of St Thomas, sounds like Insiders (plus Customer Service and TripAdvisor.com) is having a combined positive impact for a badly needed turn-around in service delivery - particularly check-in. Your post is highly relevant to this discussion about the value propositions that are most important.
I agree 110% that Arrival Experience and Check-in Experience is very high on my list as far as Value. Whether or not I'm forking over 250,000 points or $250 a night, I expect check-in to be fast and friendly and requests to be honored. This is especially true if I've been traveling for any length of time to get to the destination where I'm planning to spend my time and money.
St. Thomas is an island and barring weather conditions, guest arrival can be anticipated and planned for - in advance. People do not walk off a jet into a lobby - they have reservations! A manager can look at the roster of arrivals and plan. He/she can and should have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C anticipating the Best Case Scenario (full staff) and Worst Case (short staff).
With no intention of offense to you or anyone, 'short-staffing' is just a euphemism for poor planning. In hospitality, a positive experience at check-in is where the guest experience begins. If that is/was St. Thomas' blind spot, it is about time to get the situation corrected. Who knows how much revenue had to be refunded to guests or guest defection to competitors occurred because of the lack of management oversight.
Thank you for confirming that MR activity and EQN is posting w/in a day of check-out - that's just awesome! If the total experience from check-in to check-out exceeded expectations, the posting of MR activity w/in a day is the BEST reminder and reinforcement of what being loyal to Marriott is all about.