You make an interesting point, Zukracer, in your reply to TJC and Stepping. Most of us use our points to treat our family and friends, and most of us use our points in leisure travel (so the upgrade becomes even more important to us). To use these points which we have worked so hard to acquire, and then be treated basically as a second-class citizen when we do, is unacceptable. All the Mariott literature is geared to pleasing the customer, and we Platinum members are frequently informed that we are the most valued members of all. So we Platinum members are so "valued" that when we use our hard-earned points, we don't qualify for the same upgrade that we would get if were if we were paying cash???? There's a certain disparity here between what Mariott literature proclaims and the interactions between the front desk personnel and MR members using points.
I certainly hope this issue gets addressed by Marriott Corporate. I don't care whether I am thanked for being a Platinum Member, or not, when I check in. THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE THANKED, AND THANKED PROFUSELY, ARE THE MR MEMBERS WHO ARE USING THEIR POINTS FOR THE STAY, NO MATTER WHAT MR LEVEL THEY ARE. The associate should acknowledge that the MR member has worked to accumulate their points, and say, "We here at (name the property) know that you have worked hard to earn your points, and we want you to know that we appreciate you using them at our hotel!"
Actually I have had the reverse experience -- which may be simply because I mostly stay at Marriotts in Europe. When using points, I have usually been treated like royalty with all kinds of special perks. This has happened to me several times at the Grand Flora (yes, I was lucky enough to use points there) and the London County Hall.
Still, no one should be receiving lesser treatment for using points, but rather what I have experienced.
I agree just recently I stayed at a Residence in with my family and I asked for an up grade to a larger room and I was told if you use points that you can't have an up grade and I am a Platinum Premier member I have 1,058,654 points. I think if you choose to use Marriott for your stays and be a loyal customer they should treat you the same no matter what. I think with our status we should at least be treated like Platinum Members when using points
'.. just recently I stayed at a Residence in with my family and I asked for an up grade to a larger room and I was told if you use points that you can't have an up grade and I am a Platinum Premier member I have 1,058,654 points. '
This Residence Inn appears to be another abuser of the T&C for Residence Inns. The actual policy is that room upgrade availability is 'not guaranteed'. However, upgrades should still be provided to platinum members if available, regardless of whether it is paid or award points are used. I suggest adding this hotel to the 'Hall of shame' list of policy abusers, including the Residence Inn Treasure Island.
Funny how things are interpreted... I am a platinum member of Marriott Rewards, I am also a member of my local grocers loyalty programme (Tesco UK). With the points raised from my grocery spend, one option that I get is to stay free at a Marriott hotel. I have used this facility many time to stay at my favourite London hotel. When I arrive I show my MR card to the front desk associate, and hand over the Tesco vouchers. 3 out of 7 visits I have been given a £750 a night suite, 2 out of 7 I have been given a £430 junior suite, and on the other two occaions a regular room with a great view.
whoo hooo! Someone was listening :)
I think its really something that needs to be driven through Marriott corporate. There is no set policy, there seems to be no real rhyme or reason for when/if upgrades are provided. To be clear, I have been upgraded when on points but its far more the exception than the rule... and in one case it was my honeymoon...needless to say that one worked out LOL
This appears to be a systemic problem inside the Marriott brand, not just when we use our points but how we are treated, welcomed and valued while at a property. I could easily switch to Hilton or Starwood, heck even Wyndham and get the same type of business travel. At the end of the day, they will all provide me a quiet room, enough space to do what I need to do, a comfortable bed, bathroom and charge me a relatively similar price.
As a loyal member for the past 4-5yrs, platinum for each with well over 150nights each year (now pp) I am not recently familiar with status in other chains. I was a top level with Starwood a few years before joining Marriott... they have an entirely different approach (or they did) in which a top tier member was treated as royalty, each time, every time. They consistently placed me in rooms that were upgrades of some kind, maybe not the palace suite but certainly much nicer than a standard room.
As mentioned, we use our points when they matter most. We expect our families and friends to enjoy the properties we choose, as they are really a representation of our home away from home. Getting the basic room, poor floor selection, random upgrades, less than standard perks reflects not only poorly on the property and chain but what message does that send to our loved ones? Can you honestly look at your wife/husband or child(ren) and say "yes this justifies me being gone so much"? The reality is regardless if we are on the road or home, unless we are independantly wealthy the only time we really get to reconnect with our families is when we are on vacation with the surroundings and space to do so. Perhaps Mr Marriott will chime in here and let us know things can and will improve.
** I will add that I have found that my trips over to Europe have resulted in much much better upgrades. This seems to be more of a US centric systemic issue.
I think based on my own experience and what Zukracer said that it is almost certainly true that the problem is US-centric. This may come down to difference in how hospitality services and the positions they encompass (including restaurants) are viewed around the world. In Europe, working at a top class hotel or in a nice restaurant is a career, not a job.
"The associate should acknowledge that the MR member has worked to accumulate their points, and say, "We here at (name the property) know that you have worked hard to earn your points, and we want you to know that we appreciate you using them at our hotel!"
Nicely stated. When the interaction falls short, my hunch is there is a training gap. Last fall, I expected this to be the case at the newly opened Renaissance Patriot Place in Foxboro, MA. This property is next to the massive Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots and a struggling mall complex, Patriot Place.
To my surprise, every associate from the valet to the Front Desk, Guest Services to the servers displayed remarkable customer focus and attentiveness to requests. This has to do with training. Marriott takes very special attention when selecting General Managers. At Patriot Place it's quite remarkable. We stayed there on POINTs on a weekend prior to the U2 concert. During breakfast, a gentleman came over to our table asking about our stay and our experience. We thought he was the manager of the restaurant, but he turned out to be the hotel General Manager.
When I told him that we redeemed POINTS to stay on a PointSavers special, he smiled very broadly and thanked me. Knowing how hard it is to save up points, he expressed appreciation by saying, 'Let me take care of your breakfast." To which I replied, "You have trained your Front Desk staff extremely well. I asked and received BF vouchers at check-in given Platinum Elite status."
For convenience, here are the posts reviewing various aspects of the stay at the Renaissance Patriot Place:
have i more luck at you?
its the second year i use points, never i recieve a traitement
second class with my points, contraryo i get free upgrate
in 3 different hotel in asie. i am now in jakarta and stay
in a governeur suite 80000 points the 10 nights.
in kuala lumpur i stay at the clublevel in a club room
60 qm with free internet.120000 the 10 nights .
never i have to pay 1 points for a upgrate.
first i make my reservation via marriott. com
and 2 weeks before my check inn i send a e mail
to the hotel and ask for a free upgrate for a platium
member. and i can say its work very well.
i never ask on the frontdesk the day when i check inn
this is to late.i know alredy the answer YOUR MONEY
Hear, Hear!!!! The message is simple: without loyal customers there is no business at all. People do not que up to stay in hotels without need or incentive. In many cases the two motivators are the same--we are loyal and we need to stay somewhere on business.
So, it's not that hard:
This happened to me three times this past weekend at a full-service Marriott , a Courtyard, and a Residence Inn. All three upgraded me to a suite without asking, in every case mentioning that it was in recognition of my loyalty to Marriott and my Platinum Premier status. As I posted previously, the full service also comped valet parking and Internet.
Was this an anomaly? Hope not, but being rewarded sure feels good.
I understand that the revenue that a property receives when we stay with points is so minimal that the management has no real incentive to treat a “points guest” well and or make upgrades and availability a priority. Hence limited availability, and lack of enthusiasm for the MR visitor.
This needs to be realized by corporate and realistically addressed …. in my opinion.
Sad part is I called Marriott and they support this property's decision since it is considered a high redemption property---can't understand that if the room is available, why not upgrade your most loya members!!!
Shame on you MArriott - hotel has already been listed on the Hall of Shame - Let's send this Hall of Shame ot MArriott and MArriott rewards!
The Marriott Concierge provided an email address on the Flyertalk website to send complaints regardin hotels not following the MR award policies. I suggest sending complaints regarding this issue to this email address : MRW.Redemption.Questions@Marriott.com
"The Marriott Concierge provided an email address on the Flyertalk website to send complaints regardin hotels not following the MR award policies. I suggest sending complaints regarding this issue to this email address : MRW.Redemption.Questions@Marriott.com"
Thanks for posting that, Superchief. It's been awhile since visiting Flyertalk, but your note prompted a visit. The discussion proved very informative. One contributor states that Marriott has a team of internal auditors monitoring hotel compliance with the No Blackout Dates policy. The response by Marriott Concierge on Flyertalk provides recourse:
"Redemption room availability is controlled through our global reservations system to ensure hotels comply with the No Blackout Date policy. If you think a hotel is in violation , you can email MRW.Redemption.Questions@Marriott.com with the specific hotel and dates in question. If the hotel is not in compliance, we will ensure they come back into compliance, book your reservation, and award you 5,000 points for the inconvenience. "
Have you or anyone tried this route? Any results?
Recently, I paid $50 per night to upgrade to a great room with a fireplace and mini-kitchen. It was well worth it for me to pay and know I was going to get what I wanted. I really did not mind!
My point is, given a choice, I would pay to make sure I would get what I want in a room. Maybe this would not be an issue if the room upgrade was guaranteed at the time of reservation. Again, I will pay just to have that special room for the occasion.
I sent an email regarding this issue and received the reply below. I apologize for the length. I am still unclear regarding my original question: Is the upgrade policy for reward travel the same as for paying cash, and plan to follow up regarding this. I have seen nothing in T&C indicating that the upgrade benefit excludes reward travel. I am encouraged by Marriott further investigating stronger policy enforcement, so I hope this changes in the future. Otherwise, one of the most important benefits of being platinum becomes worthless.
I appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your Marriott Rewards account. I have read through the correspondence below, and I feel I have a good understanding of the issue.
Upgrades are a benefit of the Elite program; however, it is not a
guaranteed benefit. I can certainly understand the frustration, but there is nothing that requires a hotel to give a complimentary upgrade. With something like allocating rooms for use with points, for example, there are strict policies that lay out a hotel's obligation to make a percentage of rooms available on a given day, but nothing like that exists for upgrades. That laissez-faire approach works tolerably well
because while hotels do need to have the ability to hang onto some inventory on the chance it can be sold, upgraded guests are generally happier guests; happier guests tend to be more liberal with purchases at the hotel, and an upgrade into an otherwise empty room costs nothing.
The drawback to this approach is that we cannot give you, the customer, clear expectations, and upgrades then become a benefit that is inconsistently applied.
The Treasure Island Residence Inn is within their rights to not upgrade you, but that is clearly a poor decision from a customer service perspective, and we want to improve the application of the upgrade benefit. We are going to run a company-wide study to get some solid numbers on how often upgrades are given; why hotels might be resistant; and most importantly, how much we in Marriott Rewards could lean on hotels to give upgrades without hurting their bottom lines.
Thank you for sharing your concerns and feedback regarding the upgrade benefit. We truly do appreciate the comments you share, as they help us improve our various customer service departments and programs. Thank you for your continued loyalty and patronage as a Lifetime Platinum Elite member, and should you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me; I am always happy to assist you with your Marriott Rewards account.
Thank you for choosing Marriott.
Internet Correspondence Supervisor
Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2010 11:40 AM
To: MRW Redemption Questions
Subject: Hotels not Following MR Platinum Upgrade Policies for Award travel
Marriott Platinum Awards members are having increasing difficulty receiving room upgrades at several hotels when redeeming Marriott points (and at some hotels when paying cash). Several examples can be found on the Marriott
Insiders forum. Some properties are telling platinum members that there is a new policy that upgrades are no longer given due to a change in terms and conditions. The Residence Inn in Treasure Island is an example of a major violator. I checked the T&C on the website, and the policy states that upgrades are no longer guaranteed, but it does not state that they are not
given if rooms are available. I called the GM for this hotel, and he informed me that I would definitely not be given an upgrade (from a studio to a 1 BR) unless I paid for it, even if one were available when I checked in. At this property, the standard MR award room (category 5 points) is for a studio sleeping only 2 and without a full kitchen. To upgrade to the common 1 BR suite, the cost is $100 per night, even thought the cost
difference per rooms is only $40 per night. I believe this is an abuse of the Marriott policy, and find it to be unacceptable.
1. In my experience, a standard Residence Inn room is usually the 1 BR suite which sleeps at least 3 people and has a kitchen. This should be the standard for MR awards. Even full service hotel rooms sleep 3-4 people.
2. Upgrades should always be provided for platinum members if rooms are available.
3. Upgrade policies for award travel should be the same as when paying cash.
As mentioned by many in the Marriott Insiders forum, vacation travel is when upgrades are most appreciated and valued. Other hotel chains do not discriminate between paid and award travel for upgrades.
4. Confirmed upgrade options should be reasonable. The cost should be consistent with the price difference per room. Point options should be provided for upgrading.
5. Marriott should provide a hotline to contact when hotels are not following policy.
I have been a loyal member of MR since the initiation of the program, and currently own five weeks at MVC. I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with the company as points are devalued and more properties do not follow the T&C of the Marriott Rewards program. I hope some action is taken
(and communicated to members) to demontrate Marriott's commitment to its most loyal customers. Thank you for your consideration.
Thanks for posting this update. I have no experience with the Treasure Island property, but it seems to me that the GM is achieving the exact results he wanted....to discourage MR members from using points at his hotel. If this is such a hot property that he can sell out all the rooms for cash every night, then his revenue shines and the fact that he upset customers who dont normally stay at his property for cash causes no ill effect for him. If he is "within his rights" to not offer upgrades, I dont see him changing his policy unless it causes him to lose cash business.
Paying $50 or less for a guaranteed upgrade seems a whole lot more palatable than $100 - especially when the difference in the cash price is only $40. I recently used points at a category 6 and they wanted $150/night for an upgrade on top of the 30k points/night. If I wanted to spend $150/night I wouldnt need to use points!
"The Treasure Island Residence Inn is within their rights to not upgrade you, but that is clearly a poor decision from a customer service perspective, and we want to improve the application of the upgrade benefit. We are going to run a company-wide study to get some solid numbers on how often upgrades are given; why hotels might be resistant; and most importantly, how much we in Marriott Rewards could lean on hotels to give upgrades without hurting their bottom lines."
Bravo Superchief. Your correspondence to Marriott is on-target and Marriott acknowledges that the lack of customer focus in honoring a request by a Lifetime Platinum member by RI Treasure Island is not in their favor or the brand.
Official Marriott policy is They will honor upgrade for Elite member regardless of Points or Cash stay.
My personal encounter, only 2 occations thats happened in past 12 months.
But I noticed that reminder email send by Marriott usuallly contain the latest "room type" that you should be expecting when you check in.
For both occations that I been upgraded from the "Booked room type" to "Upgrade room type" were stated in those email.
Unfortunately, both were paid stay.
Other hotel chain might have more consistent policy, Hyatt Daimond will get Upgraded to Suite and Late check out till 4pm, even for 2 rooms booked with points at standard rate.
End of the day, what are we complaining for, its already stated that "Upgrade are NOT Guarantee" benefit.
My personal experience is that I have been treated the same, whether using dollars or points to pay for my stay. Like another poster, I think it has a LOT to do with training. And, I think most of those working the front desk are younger and don't have much, if any, experience traveling. I don't think they understand what it means for someone who spends a lot of nights in a hotel to be recognized and thanked. I was very appreciative of one of the front desk associates at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest thanking me for being a Platinum member and apologizing that she could not offer me an upgrade. That was, to me, was almost as good as an upgrade!