I have to say, I'm very disappointed at all of the (arbitrary) category upgrades of hundreds of Marriott properties from 2015-2016. The Rewards program is certainly making it more difficult to use points. Diminishing benefits. Never thought I would change brand loyalty, but seriously considering now.
As prices, in dollars, increase, it is natural to expect them to increase in points, also.
this is not devaluation of the program, it is very simply the inflation that pervades our economy.
I don't think that one has to stay any more nights to get a room on points, than was the case 15 years ago. Do the math!
it always seems that the hotels that get increased always exceed the ones that get decreased. What I don't know is it better at Hilton . For me I can understand that people do switch but as I have said many times as competition gets smaller( oligopoly) the plans will be very similar over the long term
tpress, I can appreciate your disappointment as I too am bummed when it feels like it is becoming harder to get good value from Category certificates. However, Marriott is not unique in category changes. Starwood has 282 properties changing category as of March 1 (SPG | Starwood Preferred Guest) and Hilton has the unfortunate habit of changing categories seasonally (Hilton HHonors Award Category Changes Effective January 13, 2016 | LoyaltyLobby).
Let me also respond to your comment in regards to arbitrary. There has been insight shared in previous years that the changes in category are actually driven by redemption volume. See brightlybob's post ten up from the bottom here: Re: The 2014 Categories Announced – the Numbers Crunched
I can say that I used to be Hilton Diamond (and they status matched me, but I still have yet to stay any nights). There is nothing like the megabonus feature at Hilton, and overall, it takes more nights or stays to get a stay at a decent hotel at Hilton. My limited experience with Starwood was that number of points needed for anything you'd actually want to stay in also took more effort than Marriott. The only thing Marriott should consider is raising the certs to include category 6 since so many former 5's have been bumped to 6 or above. Love to head from any active HH or SPG members on what their recent experiences are.
While these devaluations are frustrating, Marriott certainly isn't alone in doing so as other have already stated. I, for one, and thankful that they haven't completely gutted the program the way Hilton did a couple years ago. But, this is why I've decided to diversify my points holdings and loyalty. This year I've begun testing the waters with Hyatt, and so far, so good! But rather than simply accumulate points for Hyatt and Marriott, I've switched to accumulating Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to give me more flexibility and choices. Of course, for us, Chase UR are more valuable, as they transfer 1:1 to Marriott Rewards, as well as Hyatt Gold Passport, United, British Airways, etc.
There are a few things that would cause me to change loyalty, but I have to say the annual points adjustment is not one of them. Is there a particular property that the increase upset you? I did not find this year so bad. Best thing is to use your points, recognizing that loyalty program inflation exceeds normal inflation.