I've been a loyal Marriott guy since I started travelling at 22.. I'm 27, and not far off from Lifetime Platinum (about 9 months if I keep it up), however I've been less than impressed with my experience and having been considering looking at other options for my travel. (my company offers us apartments if we don't want to stay in hotels). I wanted to post on here to get other opinions and see if there were any perks or perspectives I might be missing.
Here is my take:
Platinum Elite is decent for a heavy personal traveler, or medium business traveler- but for those of us who are true "road warriors", it's a total joke. I typically renew my platinum status around May each year. It's not an accomplishment, and the benefits kind of support that.
Upgrades: I've only been upgraded once in 5 five years, and you can tell there is no expectation that you will get an upgrade without asking for one. I feel like this should be a standard- airlines have a pretty seamless system to manage this, and in a pretty clear way. It's just weird to make people continually ask - who wouldn't want an upgrade if it was available?
Megabonus/promotions: I can't figure out how Marriott determines what promotions to give customers, and from reading this site it makes me even more confused. I used to get quarterly MB promotions for 30-50k points, but now I seem to get a lot of smaller bonuses mixed in with promotions that (from my travel history) are pretty clear I would never utilize.
Nearly unusable night vouchers: The free nights I get on occasion have become more difficult to use than they are worth my time. Every time I look to redeem one, searching for a category 1-5 hotel in any desirable area is pretty much a joke. It ends up being a bit of a fail, because the times I have used it, I'm annoyed with where I am staying and it actually ended up reflecting poorly on Marriott.
Trivial, almost insulting bonuses: Things like the "elite night credit" on your birthday, or the "badges" are really lame attempts at rewarding customers. First off- the "elite night credit" for someone who already renewed platinum status is a total joke. And the badges- the fact that they "reward" you with 50-100 points... cool, so I only need 75 badges for one night at a decent hotel? Ultimately, I find many of Marriott's smaller initiatives like these to be almost insulting.
At this point, I'm already Lifetime Gold, which guarantees me some of the most basic perks (breakfast, internet). At this point, I don't see the value in continuing to maintain Platinum.. Looking for other members experiences before I decide. Thanks!
pnwguy I just don't understand why you are so unhappy but then I am a recreational traveller. Shop the other chains and I doubt that you'll be any happier with the others. The only gripe that you have that makes any sense is your lack of upgrades and your experience here, seems inconsistent with most people. I average an upgrade about every other stay. I typically get a suite every 3rd or 4th stay at FS properties. I stay far less often than you do (in fact Lifetime plat will have taken me about 26 years) and I've gotten several suites over the past year.
I don't consider an elite night credit to be insulting even it is a very small gift and one that I won't even enjoy after I reach lifetime Plat next year.
Megabonus promotions tend to be better when the hotel business is poor. Business is booming and all chains have cut back on promotions.
I'm using two cat 5 certs, this weekend. I've rarely had a problem using these certs.
I am curious about what you expect Marriott to do for you!
Ah but phctourist, wouldn't you love to be 27 and have all those points and status?. .
peymanagement I would love to be 27 again instead of dealing with the maladies that come with being almost 3 times 27 (75 to be precise). I would like to have that status and those points at 27 but I would not have wanted to have travelled on business enough to have accumulated them.
I only had one year of heavy business travel during my career. It got old pretty quickly!
pnwguy, This looks like your first post, so congrats on that. I am a heavy personal user now after 40 years of business travel, so am pretty happy with the Marriot platinum experience. I will give you my opinion, on your unique situation. At 27 you have already achieved lifetime gold status and probably will achieve lifetime platinum status without trying very hard over the next year. If I were in your position, I would be diversifying my loyalty. I maintain top tier status with four other programs although I primarily use Marriot, it provides other options when you are paying with your own money (later in life)
Your individual points have all been discussed on here extensively. Yes the mega bonus is not for everyone, the certs are not as useful particularly in large cities, there is little difference between gold and platinum. etc. but at 27 you are in a unique situation where loyalty to one brand is not needed with your travel burden.
I hope you post again.
Hey - I totally get what you're saying. The one thing I can relate to the most is having to "ask" for upgrade and having the mgmt act like they are doing you a big favor. The real issue is that many Marriott hotels are franchises and for whatever reason, this is like a federal vs state thing where corporate doesn't want to push the franchisee around too much. Case in point - I've been staying 2-4 weeks a month at the same residence inn for nearly 2 years. They only have studios or one bedrooms. I'm also on a govt rate. When they are busy, they really don't want to give up that 2br, and considering I'm at the govt rate, I get that. In the dead of winter when nobody wants to come to this not named god forsaken place, they frequently do give me the 2br unit. I am Lifetime platinum, but lately since it was so easy to get a diamond status match from Hilton, I'm thinking about bouncing back and forth just so I'll have more options when I travel for fun, and also, HHonors does have very good promos going right now (and often does!). That said, I left HHonors years ago since the value of their points was not competitive compared to Marriott, and the places I traveled to tended to have more choices from Marriott vs Hilton. Lastly, I'd say that hotel programs are just not as "smart" or "Caring" (hardly what you think of when you think of an airline!) compared to airlines. I think Marriott needs to dust off the cobwebs of some of these policies that are frustrating you and many of their most loyal customers, especially since you are in the coveted age group they say (and all you need to do it look at the age of the moderators here) that they are looking to attract. Feel free to drop me a private message - and good luck doing whatever you do about the situation you feel you're in, One thing you can be sure of...Marriott is like a big ship - it doesn't turn around quick, but it's pretty steady!
Hi pnwguy - I can appreciate your frustration, but by not keeping up Platinum status, you lose what I consider to be perhaps the most useful benefit which is a guaranteed room even if the hotel is full if you book as little as 48 hours in advance. This is especially useful if you have an emergency come up. I've had to take advantage of this only twice but it was nice to have when I needed it.
The guaranteed room doesn't always apply. Individual hotels have the ability to waive that when there are special events or over certain dates. I am lifetime platinum, and have tried to book a room in Athens, OH, of all places, two years running now, for a particular weekend (not graduation - Mom's weekend). The hotel sells out a year in advance, and being LTP doesn't help at all. Seems like when you need that benefit the most, it's not available.
I certainly understand the frustrations of business travel, but I am also one of those who has tried other programs, and consistently come back to Marriott for their caring customer attitude. In my opinion, it is rarely found with other chains. I have had my occasional bad experience with properties, but they're typically off the beaten path, smaller properties. I've seen other platinum members complain of never being upgraded without asking, and I find that extremely surprising. I have NEVER asked for an upgrade, yet I receive it almost every time I check in. Perhaps I am just lucky.
Yea as a road warrior myself the free night for your birthday is great, I use it every year. I get the category 1-5 is fustrating on trying to find a hotel but I always manage to use it.
I use marriott because IMO they have the cleanest, nicest hotels and a large number of properties to choose from in the USA no matter where you travel to.
I more often than not get upgraded but it is 50/50 in terms of getting upgraded before I even arrive at the hotel so I just always ask at checkin.
Wow, didn't expect this many responses, but I do appreciate it!
Odd to see how many of you are getting pretty regular room upgrades, and I've only gotten one (out of around 200+ stays). Any tips, or is it just random?
I am with tojake regarding the guaranteed room benefit - this hasn't always worked for me, and when it did I was quoted absurdly high rates. (Like, $500+ per night at a residence inn). I have much better luck just using HotelTonight for my last minute needs.
I also agree that Marriott, on average, has the best customer service. I've had very few issues, and was always satisfied with their response when I did raise concerns. I will say that it sometimes feels a little robotic when every front desk person uses the same lines, but I'll give them credit for trying.
I think where Marriott focuses is on "wide net" benefits- things they can do cheaply and to a large audience, in order to engage as many people as possible (Badges, smaller promotions, member rates). As a heavy traveler, I'd want to see more targeted/truly "elite" benefits that are harder to achieve but actually have meaningful value. If I can regularly hit Platinum before June, it doesn't seem like a particularly high bar...
Overall, I do like Marriott and think they are one of the best in the industry. That being said, I think I'll take the advice of peymanagement and begin diversifying my status a bit. Who knows, maybe that will make me appreciate Marriott more
I don't think it's random. I tend to travel at slow times and so upgrades are more available. Remember, upgrades only occur when there is an unsold room that is more desirable than the one that you reserved. They are far more available out of season! peymanagement is correct, I believe, about diversifying for those who can do so without jeopardizing Plat status. I barely make Platinum each year so diversifying is not really an option.
Do you ask for upgrades at check in? I don't think of anytime I was given a significant upgrade by fate -- I always have to ask. Squeaky wheel gets the grease! I was just at the Ren in downtown PHX and was upgraded to a suite for 3 nights just by asking at check in and offering to wait a little bit longer.
Tip is to call in advance and request, as politely as possible, and act like "if you're not too full, could you possibly give me an upgrade?" The truth is, if they are close to capacity, you won't get an upgrade unless you are paying full or near full rate and request early.
I agree with you that the night vouchers are unusable. I've received several either as a promo or anniversary and have never successfully been able to use one.
I disagree with you comparison with airlines. You have to ask the airlines for an upgrade. Then their "system" kicks in. So that's not much difference with Marriott, except that if there are upgrades available you simply get the upgrade as opposed to be put on a list where a higher status person might beat you out for the upgrade.
As far as success at upgrades, I don't recall the last time I stayed at a Marriott where I did *not* get an upgrade. But most of my travel is international.
john_thai - Ok, here's where I disagree with what you say about having to "ask" airlines. The airlines use computer-based logic (a "system as you call it) to determine if/when you will get an upgrade. It's not always easy to understand, but a very high percentage of the rules are published and they *do* work as advertised. It's not up to opinion or actions of particular agent at a particular gate or if someone at the airline knows you, likes your face, remembers when you complained about xyz, or actually takes time out to look at the revenue you've generated for their company.
Contrast that with Marriott, and you'll see there's a drastic difference to approach, fairness, and just plain common sense!
We are already paying with our real $ (or whatever your currency happens to be), loyalty, nights, and stays. While it's always nice to be polite when you'd like someone to do something for you, it ends up feeling like begging for something that really should be recognized. As many here can and have attested to, they simply don't bother, but end up feeling slighted, and possibly just moving on to another hotel or abandoning MR all together without so much as a peep.
The key here is for Marriott to be PROactive rather than REactive. Given the franchise model, putting rules in place that must be followed by all properties would go a long way toward delighting guests rather than disappointing them with the exceptions that seem to occur quite often. Even if the "new rules" (such as when the SPG/Marriott thing finally happens) give us "less" - if they are consistent, that would probably be best for all, or at least for those not feeling "lucky".
Hi, Dan. You're right to some extent but not completely. The system you refer to only applies to courtesy upgrades. If I want to use a GPU on United, for example, I have to request it. Then I get priority over someone wanting a courtesy upgrade. All "requested" upgrades get processes before courtesy upgrades. Or at least that's how it seems.
The gate agents are empowered to change the rules. They can, and do, give upgrades "out of turn" if they believe the situation warrants it.
I also disagree with your portrayal of the Marriott upgrade process as "begging" for an upgrade. When I check in, if I haven't already been granted an upgrade I simply ask "are there any upgrades available" and if there are I get one. No begging involved. And it doesn't seem to depend on my face because even though I think I'm stunningly good looking, my wife snorts whenever I say that but I still get upgrades.
Problem with many hotels, particularly domestic US, is that there are just way too many elites chasing way too few upgrades. Add that to the frequency of cancellation and it's not surprising that the hotels will hold off on upgrading someone until they arrive and then, if they qualify, it's "first come, first served". That's why if you're Platinum it's always a good idea to call ahead of time to confirm the reservation (ostensibly) and ask for an upgrade then.
ok, fair enough. I'm PP and LTP on Marriott and Plat on UAL, so we're both dealing with at least those same two systems but just seem to see them in a slightly different light. Where is the "request an upgrade" button on my Marriott site? I'm not just out to knock Marriott, obviously I keep spending $ and time with them, so they do a lot right. I deploy a lot of automation projects and I can say that Marriott just needs to get it's IT out of the 80's. The Mobile apps are a good start, and the IT on properties have improved. Being able to book a reservation with a Cert took a long time, but it's here and working. I'm an old fart, but my kids would just expect the whole thing to work better end-to-end.
Bearing in mind that top status at all other groups occur at less than 75 nights I can't see the argument that the 75 night requirement is a total joke. It's easy for you, but bearing in mind Starwoods is set at 50, Hilton at 60 and IHG at 75 it's obviously at the upper end of requirements, suggesting its tough for most.
Likewise the "I only get one upgrade in 5 years" seems unusual. Remember an upgrade is to a better classification of room than the one booked. I run at over 90% with about 10% suites but freely admit that in the EU Plats are much rarer so there's a far better inventory/Platinum ratio rate leading to a better upgrade rate. Even so my North American upgrade record looks like this:
2010 Ottawa Marriott - Upgraded to concierge room
2010 Toronto Airport Marriott - upgraded to corner room
2014 Philadelphia Marriott - upgraded to concierge level room (2 floors below concierge lounge)
2015 Ottawa Marriott - no upgrade
2015 Albany Courtyard - no upgrade
2015 NYC Marriott Marquis - upgraded to Times Sq Concierge room
2015 Niagara Fallsview Marriott - upgraded to higher floor view
2015 Oakville FFI - no upgrade
2015 Toronto Eaton Centre - upgraded to corner room
A total of 18 nights, 4 were not upgraded so over 75% upgrade rate. Not a single suite though, bit they're rare even in Europe where Plats are a rarity. What Marriott isn't good at is highlighting the upgrade on checkin which contrasts with IHG where every upgrade is highlighted on checking and sometimes on the roomkey! I just know when I'm upgraded because I always book the cheapest room, so it's easy to spot the upgrades.
Megabonuses aren't as mega as they were and I do agree, the targeting is off, I can't often make them, though calling Marriott Rewards requesting a switch to a less challenging target usually works. The badges are a gamification that I can't see the point of myself but the points are not a serious part of it - indeed what is a serious part of gamification? The elite night credit is useful to those like me who are points-heavy but nights-light, I reached the 2 million lifetime points last year but am still over 100 nights short of the 750 lifetime nights. So not useless.
Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards and SPG are all schemes with a mix of points, benefits and promos not all of which will suit everyone, but each company hopes there are several facets which will drive most road-warriors to adjust their stays towards the group. But if I were you, rather than steering 100+ nights Marriotts way I'd make status with another program that diversifies your choices. Personally I maintain top tier in both Marriott and IHG and that suits me far better than just sticking only to Marriott, which remains my primary scheme.
Ah, yes, to be 27 again. I still can remember those days where I spend more time in an airport and hotel room than in my own home. The major thing I could depend on with Marriotts then, which were mostly full service with me, was their consistency. It know it sounds trite, but they were literally my "home away from home." I could always depend on them to provide the services I needed and if something went awry they would fix it. Early on I dabbled with some other brands, but always seemed to return to Mother Marriott. They made me feel comfortable. Now, many years later, I will go out of my way to always stay at a Marriott property. All their rewards, bonuses, points, contests, etc., are nice, but it is Marriott's consistency that is still on top of my list.
My story is very similar to Pelican's, but most of my Marriott stays occurred in my late 30's. During that time I accumulated over 1,300 nights, which how I earned my LTP.
My upgrade experience has been very mixed. I would say that 50% of the time I'm given a better room than I booked, but all bets are off when I'm staying on points. More times than not I get the smallest and darkest room.
in 5 years never been upgraded? that must be very bad luck. i been upgraded almost every single time even when a silver. I dont understand why its so hard to just ask at check in or put it as a request when making the reservation, and i don't mean beg for one. Im sure they have limited rooms for upgraded and more elites than rooms so i think it's a logical choice of the hotels to upgrade either those who request ahead of time or at check in.
I have been very pleased with the additional "recognition" received because of my Platinum status. The "big" recognition does not usually come when I am traveling in the U.S. or in smaller cities. Of course I get access to the concierge lounge if there is one. But, time and again, the following happens when I travel internationally:
I am assuming that these upgrades, recognition, and flexibility are given because of my status.