So I cashed in a few thousand (15) points for a night at a semi local courtyard. Had plans to get into the city the next morning so figured I'd just stay closer in. I've stayed at the property numerous times, each time I was upgraded to a suite or exec type suite...this was as a Plat. member.
This time I am a Plat Prem. and was given basically a closet, the smallest room in any courtyard I've been in over the past year or two. I call down, say "hey, plat prem. get upgrades to the best avail. room in the house, yes or no?" They say, well you are using points so no! I was like, you have to be kidding me. After a phone call to verify that they indeed did have nicer rooms available, the operations manager tells me "sir there is no way for us to upgrade you when you use points, the system does not allow us to change your class of room". My response, possibly more terse than necessary "I'm not entirely sure how or why but make it happen or give me my points, I'll go to the hilton and pay for the night" Suddenly a king suite becomes available.
To me, there's a few process breakdowns, not the least of which treating a plat. prem. like someone that stays once in a blue moon, thats a different conversation. My question, particularly to the Marriott Rewards team that monitors these posts....Is there a glitch that prevents the hotel from providing upgrades to MR members redeeming points? I was basically told they had to place the upgraded room "out of service" and leave me checked into the other room. Anyone else encounter this in their travels? MR folks want to comment on this one?
"I'm not entirely sure how or why but make it happen or give me my points, I'll go to the hilton and pay for the night" Suddenly a king suite becomes available."
To Marriott's credit, this has been the exception rather than the rule in my experience. Unfortunately, there are associates who fail to deliver and blame the 'system'. Threatening to bail as you did is the most effective approach. A well trained Marriott associate knows that it costs less money to attract repeat guests who are highly-satisfied. A dissatisfied guest is very very costly and can mean a refund of points or cash and a bonus for the inconvenience on top of that.
Is there a glitch that prevents the hotel from providing upgrades to MR members redeeming points? I was basically told they had to place the upgraded room "out of service" and leave me checked into the other room. Anyone else encounter this in their travels?
Whether paid or points, complimentary upgrades are not automatic and contingent upon availability. This is not a system flaw, it is a system default. There are several ways to effect an overide of the default.
Calling in advance - especially if you have stayed at a property previously and they can look you up - has always worked for me. At the Courtyard Boston Woburn on 2 occasions, my reservation was a last minute thing and the room I was usually upgraded to was booked. To offset the complementary upgrade, I did not threaten to bail, but requested and received complimentary breakfast vouchers, instead.
At the Courtyard Boston Lowell and Courtyard Boston Danvers, I combined a AAA rate or RoomSavers.com coupon rate with points. The associates were all too eager to honor the request for complimentary upgrades and basically did a system override. The short of it is very simple. Hospitality is about a face-to-face, voice-to-voice, eye-to-eye interaction.
In my experience, kudos to Marriott, its about customer focus, not system defaults.
Ask any Associate how they are treated when they stay at another Marriott property at the associate rate and the results are mixed but tend toward not being treated well. No upgrades, no access to the lounges, etc. Must be in the management manual somewhere?
I bring this up because it mirrors the treatment you've gotten while using points at this place. In the minds of some people working in some hotels there is a pecking order from paying full freight to staying "free." I think and have said before this is an issue that needs to be addressed from the top down--starting with a corporate-wide message that these are just the same as regular paid stays, etc. And that room selection should be independent of method of payment.
I understand that hotels get some reimbursement for these points stays but I leave that to Marriott to verify all this. Regardless, your points are money spent then converted to points, then to nights. You should be given the same courtesy and respect as the folks paying rack rates, and as a Platinum Premier, given the best available room, or compensation for not getting it.
Whether paid or points, complimentary upgrades are not automatic and contingent upon availability.
True enough, thats why I called back down to verify that a suite or something better than the closet I was provided was available should I wish to convert to paying or wish to extend additional points. This property has a small parking lot so I was confident it had other, better rooms available given the emptiness of the lot. Heck I had to correct the lady at the desk to include premier when welcoming me as a platinum member as it does hold a slightly different rating (ie. upgrades).
I agree with both of your replies and thanks for them :)
As metioned, if Marriott would level the field as it were to apply these upgrades universally regardless of price paid, simply looking at the person staying (status, role, etc) it could elevate them to the next level. Starwood seems to care less if you are paying or on points, their top tier gets the upgrades every time.
The real question really turns into "What will Marriott do to address this systemic problem?" Do they need to do a better job of training (as some places seem to know little about the premier level or care about status in general) or is it a corporate culture/focus that needs an adjustment?
I do not know the answer but hopefully something happens soon. I've already renewed my platinum for 2011, perhaps its time to reinvest in Starwood or Hilton just to see what the differences really are. Lets face it, the rewards drive most of us to be loyal. True, it is nice to have the things that drive us to stay as captured in the other thread but we can find those things in other brands. We only use these rewards when it matters most, time with family & friends and not work. Perhaps the points stays should trump cash, as the choice of where to stay for work is often less variable than the choice of where to stay for vacations.
"The real question really turns into "What will Marriott do"
I wholeheartedly agree, zukracer.
As a charter member of Marriott Rewards and a multiple-week owner with Marriott Vacation Club and newly minted Platinum Premier member (my PP card arrived today!), Marriott is responsive to feedback.
As noted in many previous posts, a whopping 88% of business travelers have extended a stay for leisure. My hunch is that a high % redeem points to do so. After building up hundreds and thousands of points in order to spend time with our families, we share expectations that Marriott will deliver upon the promise. That promise is to ensure we leave relaxed, revived and re-energized.
In my experience redeeming points which spans 26 years, the lion's share of stays were memorable and exceeded expectations. With minor exception and I can name 4, the properties in question utterly failed to deliver upon the Marriott promise. There were several contributing factors, but the most prominent is rooted in poor or insufficient customer service training combined with the absence of management oversight in following up.
These included the Renaissance Asheville NC, Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa, Groton, CT; Marriott Hotel, Rocky Hill, CT and Residence Inn Meriden, CT. With the exception of the RI, I have stayed at the hotels on business and leisure. They failed on leisure stays on points. In all 4 cases, I called or e-mailed Guest Services or Customer.Care@Marriott.com with the conditions and service experienced.
In agreement with the question, "What did Marriott do?" To make things right, Marriott completely refunded the Rewards points back to my account. With the exception of the Residence Inn Meriden, I have gone back to these hotels and the experience was like night and day. At the risk of repeating myself, kudos to Marriott for continually striving to deliver upon the promise and exceeding expectations.
This whole issue has become a really frustrating issue for me as well. It DOES really matter to me to have an upgrade when I am traveling with my family, because they DO pay the price for my being gone so much.
As a platinum, I will ask upon check in if a platinum upgrade is available. When I am traveling on business and staying at basically any brand except full service, I get upgraded about 80% of the time. Not so fortunate at full service hotels.
But the last two vacations we took on points with the family I was only offered a cash upgrade option (vacation 1) and was told no other upgrade options were available (this in the Caribbean during hurricane season).
The last one, in Vail this past December, I was offered a cash upgrade twice via email about two weeks prior. The first time was a 'bargain' $199 a night upgrade cost for a slightly larger room--and I mean slightly. A couple of days before checkin the exact same 'upgraded' room was offered for $50 a night. Turned it down. I felt like I was working with a used car dealer instead of a well respected hotel chain that I spend a lot of time supporting.
Interestingly enough, the hot tub each evening was full of Marriott employees from other areas who were staying in upgraded rooms.
I don't like feeling like if I just talked to someone else I'd have gotten a better deal on an upgrade. That's the way I feel if I am traveling on points. It's time for some consistency; other loyalty programs have models marriott could use.
Finally, I am a government employee who has the ability to use the government rate. I don't think I should be treated as a second class citizen simply because my employer has a rate agreement with a chain and some other platinum member's doesn't. I still earned 127 nights last year and expect to be treated as an extremely loyal customer because of that.
It should not be a standard thing system-wide. It should be up to each hotel to decide. And they should be able to do this in the computer without having to "fudge" it. If the hotel is rather empty, why not allow the clerk or manager to upgrade someone-maybe not to a penthouse suite, but some kind of suite.Even though you would be using points-not paying-you should still be appreciated for your loyalty-you didn't magically find the MR points-you earned them by being loyal to the Marriott brand. They could always base the level of upgrade on your status level. Platinum folks-maybe a significant upgrade if available, the regular folks like me-just a little something.....but it would make me feel good
I have found this to be the rule, not the exception. Traveled last winter to FL as a Gold member using points and was given probably the worst room in the hotel. Noisy, right over the whirlpool, dirty hand prints all over the woodwork, cigarette burns in carpet (in a hotel that has been non-smoking for years so why hasn't the carpet been cleaned or replaced), as far from the elevator as you could get, and they ingnored all our prior on-line requests for fruit and wine at check in as well as the rollaway. Desk was unsympathetic claiming no upgrades were available and reminded me I was staying on points. Only a written complaint to Marriott.com got their attention and first thing the next morning the manager called and upgraded us. Two years before when we used points we were given a handicapped accessible room that was missing closets and bathroom counter space to accomodate wheelchairs (none of us need this kind of room, fortunately). Again somewhat dirty and worn. Even when paying recently at a Courtyard, now traveling as Platinum, I questioned not getting an upgrade. Was told the better rooms are saved. For who?
Interestingly, several reservations attempted recently suggest that there may be a system flaw in the Quicker & Improved Online Reservations Process
According to the No Blackout Dates policy, standard rooms that are available for a paid reservation should be available for redemption using points. Previously, users had the option to click a link to switch from Paid to Points. Under the new interface, the ability to switch is not there:
Below: When booking a paid reservation, the new tabbed interface does not provide an option to switch to points.
Below: When redeeming Marriott Rewards points, the new tabbed interface provides the option to switch to Standard Rates.
I think that the "system flaw" is with decisions that the individual hotel manager makes. In April I spent 31 nights in hotels in Europe using points the entire time. One hotel tried the "cant upgrade because you are using points" and I told them that points are like cash because if I wanted to buy a TV, I could buy it with points. And also how in the world do you think I got all the points? Also I had to fight for free internet in some of the European hotels as the "free internet" for platinum guests does not apply in Europe. Overall the European trip was wonderful. The lounges in the Marriotts in Europe provide great breakfast and evening "snacks", some are open until midnight. I horde my points and save them for a really special hotel, rarely ever use them for a hotel that would cost less than $150. It is a shame that some hotels make you fight for upgrades, etc. We are loyal to Marriott because we expect them to treat us like the "benefits" that are supposed to be given to Platinum or Gold Guest deserve. Stand your ground with the hotels, and if they dont give you what your loyalty to them deserves, then just dont stay there anymore. And please write and tell us about the hotels that refuse to recognize a Platinum guest as a valued customer.
I know this is an old post but wanted to comment. My family and I stay up at a Residence Inn in N. Conway, NH a few times/year. It's a fairly new property and great for the family. Of our 3 stays using points (I've never paid for a room there), I've been upgraded every time to a nice suite, 1 king br, living room w/sofabed & fireplace. It works very well with 6 & 3 y/o kids. Note, it's not exactly Manhattan but it is a busy mountain vacation spot in New England.
Given these experiences, I can't imagine there is a mechanism that won't allow the hotel mgr to upgrade when using points. I'd guess it has more to do with personal discretion of the mgr.