According to Gary Leff over at View from the Wing, change is in the air for Marriott Rewards:
Rumored changes include:
While these aren't revolutionary changes, and some are just formalizing common practice, they are largely positive changes. I'm especially grateful for Reward Nights counting towards elite status. Too bad expected implementation is for 2016 program year. Could really use that status count this year...
Would be interested to see someone from Marriott chime in, particularly to dispel anything that won't be in the program. I have seen a handful of these predictions presented and subsequently dispelled by Marriott.
1. This seems easy enough and would be good if you don't have enough points or if the hotel or area is one of high demand, but still allows more folks to leverage some level of points.
2. I would assume they would want to require, even for Gold and Platinum, an administrative fee. though it would be a nice touch.
3. I do this all the time. Book something on points and then earn my way in to it.
4. This would obviously be nice, but of all four, would be surprised if this one makes the cut. Seems like double dipping.
Earning Elite night credits for nights purchased with MR points is not double dipping. MR points are a form of currency and should be treated as such. If I can purchase a TV or golf clubs from Marriott with my MR points, then they are currency, no different than a Yen or Euro. If I "pay" for my room with MR points I should get Elite night credit for the night. If I asked them to give me more MR points for the night, that would be double dipping.
More points would not be double dipping. I agree with your logic but it extends to getting all the benefits of your "purchase". If points equal currency then my purchase of a stay gets points. You said MR points are like yen or euro and paying with either one of those would mean points.
I am always happy to see changes like these, they indicate that the chains still value their loyalty programs, that it's not all FaceCrook and InstantGranny!
What stands out here is that Marriott has evidently decided to carry out an overhaul of the IT systems surrounding the Rewards scheme and as part of that overhaul have decided to add some additional functionalty. All of these changes are really IT functionality-related
As for the detail
1. Cash and Points. Since this is offered by most of the other schemes it was a hole in MR and the midde road solution Marriott brought out a few years ago was a cheap fix IT wise, simply combining a paid and redemption booking on the same reservation. This will require more extensive reprogramming, I hope this turns out like Starwoods, which seems to provide really good value.
2. Points sharing. I don't think this was banned in the past, it just simply wasn't included in the original sceme launched 30 years ago and demand has probably never been high in comparison to the cost. Finally the cost of developing the IT is now so low that as part of a Rewards IT overhaul, its easy to add and will save the helpline having to deal with the current highly bureaucratic process now in place.
3. Points advance. The IT is already here, this is simply advertising a process that has long been in place
4. Reward nights counting towards elite status. Another IT fix that catches up with the competition, not much to use to me now I've got to lifetime Gold, but would have been very useful a few years ago. It will be useful to get me to lifetime Plat a bit faster.
It's clear these changes are IT-led, there are other changes we've been angling for, resort breakfast and fees, suite redemption and the return of EEOs to name but a few, but they require franchisee involvement so don't feature here. I think the big take-out here is the Cash and points, which could be a very big improvement.
While the potential changes noted above are nice, I would like to see real tangible changes to MR benefits. For example, real benefits for elites at Courtyards, likely a daily credit at The Bistro ($10 for Plats & PP, $5 for Golds). Update the benefit for elites at resorts to include breakfast or parking at the elite's discretion. Most resorts are reluctant to waive their resort fee of $40 or more. Since the resort fee usually includes internet access, elites get no benefits at resorts other than an upgrade (which are harder to come by in favor of the upsell).
As we all know from past experience, enhancements to MR usually come at the expense of other program benefits, the devaluation usually buried in the fine print of the news release announcing the changes. I think with the changes above, we may also see one or more of the following devaluations:
I will hold my judgment on any enhancements until they are officially announced by MR. Of all the new benefits noted by the OP (and at View from the Wing), the only new benefit I would use would be Cash and Points and that would depend on how MR rolls it out.
I seem to remember our careless talk started up a storm last year. I'll try and avoid it this!
Looking at your potential downgrades
Removal of 5th night free. Probability 50:1 - since our speculation Hilton have joined the 5 for 4 redemption club, making it now the industry standard so Marriott will retain this. The only reason it avoids a no chance mark is the possibility that Marriott might change it to differentiate positively from the rest. If so, the replacement will be for the good.
Reducing elite point bonuses. Probability 100:1 - no chance whatsoever of this.
Category 10. Probability 100%. Only question is when? 2016? 2017? 2018? Later???
Gold lounge access only if upgraded. Probability 10:1 - Marriott has strengthened their wording limiting elites plus 1 and brought in the low-floor larger M lounge concept. These measures should deal with overcrowding but if they don't then this would be seen as an easy (albeit unpopular amongst Golds) way to tackle the problem.
Fee for M lounge access dependent on elite level. Probability 50:1 - The only reason it avoids a no chance mark is my hope that Marriott might just reintroduce free beer/wine to US lounges and I could see a fee for that access, though it would be unwise as it could encourage very undesirable behaviour as guests try to "get their money worth"
So sorry, takingthehighroad, but I don't see much possibility in most of this.
I too am watching to see what changes are coming to Marriott Rewards. Though the changes that Marriott is rumored to institute are welcome, there will be changes that also negatively effect some set of reward members. Marriott Rewards is the top ranked hotel rewards program, so I am staying cautiously optimistic for now.
Call me a skeptic, but I'll be surprised if we see any of these changes. To me, rumored changes are just rumors.
Many rumors are floated out as trial balloons to see how people might react, but generally, I find rumors to originate in somebody's imagination.
I'd be delighted to see #2 and I'd be shocked (pleasantly) if we see #4 actually come about.
When Marriott makes some announcement, then I'll believe!
Nah misterchk! You're not getting too old! According to your profile, you are still in your 60s. Today is my 75th birthday and I'm still not getting too old for most things, although I'm often too old to those things as long, as vigorously, or as often, as I used to do them!