In reading the recent posts regarding the lowering of requirements for lifetime Platinum and rollover/bonus nights to attain status, there seems to be 2 distinct camps:
Those who are happy about these promotions because they attain status that the normally wouldn't have.
Those who are unhappy because more Platinums mean less benefits.
It's obvious that from Marriott's perspective, having more loyal customers is good for business. Once someone attains Platinum status, it's hard to walk away and start over with another brand.
It's also obvious that those who "paid thier dues in full" are not happy about sharing the rewards (which are not infinite) with those who "paid thier dues at a discount".
What is unclear is:
1. Is the grass greener at some other chain?
2. Are those who are unhappy willing to move to another chain?
The BIG question:
3. Is there a way to make everyone happy?
In the attempt at trying to generate some constructive feedback, I am looking for your suggestions. I have seen mixed reviews regarding "Plutonium" status as one possibility. How can we solve this problem?
I think the answer to your question lies in associate education and training (as it always does). Successful businesses understand their customers and their needs, and to the extent possible, they attempt to meet those needs or in some cases exceed them. Customers define quality.
Marriott is a huge company with tens of thousands of employees scattered over the globe. It is impossible to ensure that every employee treats every guest with recognition and respect, no matter how many times the management drills employees. Making someone "guest-centric" is the hardest job in any service industry--Marriott is no exception.
But, that does not mean that they cannot try. If you strip away all the distractions from the post about lowering elite lifetime requirements, you'll see that most people want to be recognized, and are happy that they are when they are, for this accomplishment.
I have found that most times I have to make the first move when checking in, that my Platinum Premier and Platinum Lifetime Status needs to be mentioned (my therapist would be proud of my newly found assertiveness) if things get mushy about room choice etc.
There are several reactions to my comment at the front desk when checking in, none of them are what I'd like them to be. Best (or worst) line was an associate who said, "we have tons of Platinum Premiers staying here all the time.") as a rejoinder to my crowing.
So, what to do? Forget about the expanding or reducing of the size of the elite lifetime pool. What matters is the treatment that we as individuals are getting at the time we stay at any Marriott hotel anywhere. That treatment can be enhanced by adequate training of staff, of sending in "secret shoppers," and by management being held accountable for shortcomings on the part of associates.
Give every Platinum Elite a memorable stay, even if that means congratulations to them, and things will go a lot better for all of us.
OK, I'm convinced there needs to be another tier. But I think we should have yet another tier beyond Platinum Plutonium. Lets call it Premium Unobtainium. How do we achieve this you ask? Well I don't know about all you guys, but I'll make to this ballistic level because my annual nights stayed (paid nights + bonus nights) exceeds the actual number of days in a calendar year.
In all seriousness, in response to your questions: is the grass greener and will I switch brands? The answer to both is no. I choose Marriott and Marriott chains because I know exactly what it is I'm going to get. That is to say, I've never received less than what I reserved / paid for. Sure, we've all swung open the door to find a smoking room behind it or found your room to have the wrong bed type by mistake, but overall, Marriott delivers what I reserve; my MR profile preferences are 'usually' observed.
For example: If at 11:30pm, after I've been traveling for 22 hours through who knows how many time zones, I find myself standing at the front desk and I am handed a key to a room that matches what I reserved and matches my MR member profile preferences... well friends, I have no complaints. A cheese plate and room upgrade are bonus for me.
Remember, MR's basic, silver, gold, platinum, and premier members all pay the same price for the same product. The difference are the "perks". As I have said in previous threads: the frustration I have with my choice in hotels is the lack of consistency. How beneficial will another tier (Plutonium OR Unobtainium) be if Marriott does not follow through with the perks of it's existing system? The system in place is great on paper. Now follow through with it. Note: there is an "X" factor. Not all properties are corporately owned. I believe this to be part of the issue. Can the product be consistent if the independent hotel management's policies (or lack of adhesiveness to policy) and corporate's policies are not in sync? This will surely be even further obvious with the two new brands since it seems to glorify the fact that they are not Marriotts.
Here's a thought...Maybe the difference in service for PPs is they take away all of the asterisks and foot note exceptions after each benefit line. Wow! Could you imagine? 48 hour guarantee for real!?!?
The Pope is visiting, the Olympics are in town, and Elvis comes out of hiding on the same day and in the same place that you need a room? No Problem!!
I know I've made light of the subject but the answer is clear. To those listening / reading within Marriott I have this to say, "Stick to the program, that's why we all chose Marriott." Want to change something? Stop giving away nights, otherwise earning them is a waste of my time.
Less is more... Always!
I guess I do not understand why the Marriott all of a sudden decides to "water down" the Lifetime Platinum Status. As long as I remember being a Marriott Reward Member, the requirements were the same. I did not see where Marriott Reward member, other than a few, suggest changes to this Status. So why couldn't Marriott just leave it alone. For those of us who worked very hard to achieve LTP status, it seems unfair to now, again, all of a sudden make this unnecessary change. Of course, those who now will receive LTP status without meeting the old requirements will be very happy while those of us who worked hard and strained to achieve the level will feel disgruntled. Prior to this move, as all of us LTP members know, LTP status has become less and less recognized at Marriott hotels and with this change will only deteriate more. SAD!!!
"In reading the recent posts regarding the lowering of requirements for lifetime Platinum and rollover/bonus nights to attain status, there seems to be 2 distinct camps:
Those who are happy about these promotions because they attain status that the normally wouldn't have.
Those who are unhappy because more Platinums mean less benefits."
I'm in neither camp; I'm happy with the promotions while not immediately benefitting from them. I switched from Starwood (multiyear Plat; still Gold) to Marriott in 2006. I've been Plat 2007, 8, 9, and now Plat Premier this year. 177 night credit for 2009.
Promotions are designed to inspire loyalty to the product. I'd be loyal to Marriott even with no promotions because: 1) they are the only chain that offers lifetime elite status, 2) they have a much more consistent product for ALL of their properties (that was a huge problem with Starwood), 3) their lower end products are better priced than Starwood, and 4) their room cancellation policies were better than Starwood at the time I switched.
Negatives of Marriott compared to Starwood: 1) The suite upgrades are much stingier, 2) Not enough international locations, and 3) No Coke products. But I'd MUCH rather trade my nice suite for a consistently decent room. I've stayed in some really bad Sheratons and 4 Points over the years as a Plat. Not worth it.
"Once someone attains Platinum status, it's hard to walk away and start over with another brand. '
??? All hotel chains will match status, at least on a temporary basis in order to lure away loyal customers. Marriott does it, Starwood does it, Hilton, they ALL do it.
"It's also obvious that those who "paid thier dues in full" are not happy about sharing the rewards (which are not infinite) with those who "paid thier dues at a discount". '
For those who believe that way, it's a naive way of thinking. I want others to temporarily enjoy the benefits of Gold/Plat status, even if they are Gold/Plat lites. If they want to maintain such status, they'll have to stay more nights. If they stay more nights, it keeps the Marriott chain thriving so that new hotels get built and I end up with more options of where to stay. I'm not short sighted in thinking that they're taking something away from me because I already know most of the tips/techniques to get upgrades, even if I don't get the suite upgrades very often.
"1. Is the grass greener at some other chain?"
Maybe. It depends on what's important to YOU. If you are a road warrior staying at higher end hotels and want suite upgrades, Starwood is the way to go. If you want to maintain status for life after your road warrior days end, the only game in town is Marriott. I've evaluated all of the chains and Marriott is a hands down winner for ME. This isn't a one size fits all world.
"2. Are those who are unhappy willing to move to another chain?"
Yes; anyone unhappy enough with one hotel chain will move to another. If they don't, they're freaking gutless wimps. It's easy to move.
"3. Is there a way to make everyone happy?"
No. It's not a one size fits all world.
I try to find out about hotels that I am going to ahead of time by going to flyertalk.com's forums. I'm returning to the Sonoma CA Renaissance next weekend; it is deservedly highly rated. I will also spend a night at much lower rated Napa Valley CA Marriott because my wife wants one night in Napa. I visited Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott (Austin TX) one weekend because it was the closest spa to our home ... it was substandard, just as was mentioned on flyertalk.com.
"I have seen mixed reviews regarding "Plutonium" status as one possibility."
They really need to change Plat Premier's name to something else. Perhap's President status. There are no more precious metals that would fit.
Edit -- I've bolded the text that Jasper finds so offensive; if the moderators choose to delete it, so be it. I guess that expressing anger at Marriott/Marriott Rewards is acceptable and making generalized negative statements about individuals is unacceptable????????? That smacks of censorship.
"Note: there is an "X" factor. Not all properties are corporately owned. I believe this to be part of the issue. Can the product be consistent if the independent hotel management's policies (or lack of adhesiveness to policy) and corporate's policies are not in sync? This will surely be even further obvious with the two new brands since it seems to glorify the fact that they are not Marriotts. "
The "X" Factor may contribute more heavily than the author of the post realizes. The statement above begs the question, "How many hotels does Marriott own?"
We know from Marriott's financials that a major source of revenue is franchise fees. Other major sources include management fees and sales of timeshare units.
Worldtraveler, I didn't know that Hyatt offered lifetime elite; thanks for the correction. ... I'd still choose Marriott due to the much larger number of Marriotts. I travel to a lot of places around the world and I'm not entirely pleased with Marriott's (meager) international presence. For instance, there is exactly one Marriott in all of Greece.
Having been a LTP for over 5+ years and staying 70+ nights a year in Marriotts, I have experinced little or no benefits to being a LTP. Close to 100% of the Marriott could care less. Most front desk folks do not even know about LTP status. Room upgrades are at best 10% of the time.