This is intended to be direct feedback to MRI marketing. I have no need for seeing others follow me but I am curious how many other Platinum Elites are where I am.
I started transitioning my rewards programs & committing to one program in 2008. I had never committed to one brand and optimizing any particular program. In 2008 I started traveling near full time as a consultant. My busiest year was 135 + legs in the air and over 270 nights per year in a hotel. I committed to programs, brand bonuses and even managed my engagements to optimize points accruals. Several hundred thousand points a year was a reward for the sacrifice I made away from home and family; and 5 night vacation stays were free vacations. Albeit, my wife and kids spent more points traveling than I probably did. Since then I have occasionally followed insiders posts. For years I have seen frustration over roll overs, points, upgrades; some seemed valid and some seemed trivial. I was at the point that I reached 450 paid nights that things started changing for me. The loyalty became a badge of honor for me. Being a data analytics guys, I started counting the costs of time away, nights of my life on the road versus the value of rewards & the cost of redeeming them. 15,000 points was not $1,500 in spend it was 2 weeks of my life away for friends and family. I've never spent a lot of time in large metro areas so most of my points were on $100 ish stays at Fairfields or Courtyards. Maybe not a big deal to some but $120 all in versus $95 all in a Hampton Inn's seemed to make a difference to my company's financial team when I submitted my expense reports. I say all this to say, I had to work to stay committed to MRI and whether I had to drive an extra 20 miles, or make 5 phone calls to find a price that fit within my per diem, I have been loyal.
here is where I am going with this.
I vividly remember sitting in the lobby of a Marriott on the 500th paid night and expecting someone might actually give two @#%@# that this was a mile stone. I thought it was a monumental moment of recognition. When I checked in, I received the same old, have you stayed with us before? No upgrade, no recognition. I didn't even disclose it until later that evening, while talking to the bar tender, and asked do you know what today is? Having no clue, I stated this was my 500th night and she said oh, is that a big deal? I asked what you would say if you were away from your loved ones for almost 2 straight years of your life and she said, I guess that would be hard. Moving on.
When I starting following up on this Platinum Premiere argument, i realized I was typically in the group but it really meant nothing. Some insiders said, don't worry about it; when you don't have enough points to maintain your status it will show up. True, but that misses the point. You have a central server system that knows who we are and how long we have been in the program. Why in the hell doesn't the attendant at the counter see screens flashing a breakscreens saying; HEY This is a Platinum Premiere that has stayed in THIS VERY HOTEL 40 nights in the last 6 months, ACT LIKE YOU KNOW THEM! PRETEND YOU ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR LOYALTY TO US AND YOUR HOTEL!!!!
I crossed 750 paid nights a year or so ago, a Lifetime Platinum milestone piece, again no recognition. I have bee chasing the lifetime points requirements for about 3 years and it keeps moving on me. I am now over 930 paid and the thought of 1,000 paid nights,which used to be a huge milestone, means virtually nothing because the disappointment I anticipate from no one else giving 2 @#$%@ is more than the personal satisfaction of achieving it. I anticipate traveling professionally for another 15 years and so what. I've now started switch programs to maintain elite status with MRI competition and minimizing the effort to travel. I haven't added up all the nights at competitors since I started losing the fire for MRI but Its probably 50 plus nights a year that I stay at competitors.
Here is the latest straw that is about to make me call it quits. Your pricing algorithms are disingenuous and bordering outright deceitful. I am sick and tired of MRI playing games with pricing. Quit saying its the best price! Quit using corning grocery store loss leader pricing tactics that border on bait and switch. Quote me a damn price for the stay and knock off the BS here's your price but the price changes on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th day. I have intentionally watched your pricing system and seen it drop out, OOPs and error happened, then gotten pricing that was 25 or 30% higher when I logged back in. don't tell me the rooms were simultaneously quoted to other guests and the price went up. I've logged out and checked back as a guest in another browser and seen different pricing. I have a idea, Give the Platinum Elites a personal rate. We have to make 5 different phone calls to local management to get a discount rate they can apply to get us back to a reasonable rate. I booked a room in Little Rock for over 40 nights at $105 and one day out of the blue it changes to $130 but I can move to the Courtyard and get the same rate I had. 2 Months later the prices flip again. I have an idea, track your lost sales. Your pricing games are fine for the general retail buyer but for a committed professional traveler, your jacking with the people that pay your light bills.
I am tied of the work it takes and more importantly the lack of simple respect for your customer. If I treated my best customers this way, I 'd be out of business. You may not need my business. I'm ok with that. At one time, I had 300 nights to go to earn a status that meant something. I have no skin in the game anymore. I can understand the message, you don't care!
PS. you should be calling me up and saying hey get to NY or San Francisco, Miami, pick your spot. 500 nights is big deal. Here is a couple nights on us as a simple way to say thank you! Same thing at 750 or 1,000. You know your variable cost on a couple unsold rooms is about $20.
Anyone else feel the same?
Just wanted to acknowledge your posts jndcoff ...
You took quite a long time to compose a very thoughtful post about what I'm sure many here feel to some degree but do not have the inclination or energy to express. I will reply with a more in depth response later in the week (and yes, I'm currently in a Marriott Property for the next 8 days, so plenty of time to do this sort of thing). Hopefully others will respond thoughtfully as well. FYI - I'm LTP and PP and have over 4 years of my life spent in Marriott properties, not counting months at a Ritz-Carlton in Japan before Marriott purchased them. I hear you loud and clear.
JNDCOFF: I feel your pain, but here is my story. I am already a Life Plat. I am not a consultant but I am in a client service business, so travelling to see my clients is a constant. Its a mix of USA and International travel. I tend to go to "big" cities, such as ATL, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, Dallas, Houston and International, London, Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris. I tend to stay at FS Marriotts, JW's and Renaissance properties since they are within the corporate plan and offer some decent rates for the big cities.
Was I recognized when I hit 500, 750 or 1,000 nights?- you guessed it - nope.
My spouse and kids see me mainly on the weekends, and on vacations, at least they recognize me .
Would having Marriott people recognize my loyalty and the major milestones be good for my ego - sure, but hey, I think that world peace is relevant also.
I have been travelling for work since the mid 1980's and I am closer to retirement (in about 5-8 years) than I care to think about.
Did any of the major travel companies recognize any milestone? not AA, UA, Hyatt or Marriott. Just watch that George Clooney move "up in the air". He didn't get recognition (and Hollywood wrote this one) until he hit the concierge key level.
So, I do understand your point and I have adjusted my thinking to be recognized for my professional accomplishments, my family accomplishments and my civic accomplishments (like non profit volunteer efforts).
My only thought is to not focus too much as the travel companies are not geared to thinking about recognition the way you might expect.
They also play with pricing and as for profit companies can do that, and as long as they aren't violating any laws, can get away with it. Caveat emptor is what I can say.
I just keep my business with a small number of travel providers so I get status, which helps when there is an issue (irr ops, sold out properties, cancellations, etc). I also keep this status so that when I go on a family vacation I can use the accrued points/miles and treat my family well. They support me in so many ways and its the least I can do for them.
So while I do get all of the topics you have raised, and believe me, I have been devalued in points and miles so many times I cant even remember some of the past bennies I used to get. I had flights booked the week of the 9/11 terrorist attack, and as soon as the airspace re opened, I was flying again. I got more free upgrades and superior treatment then because I supported the travel industry when allot of people didn't. I got hand written notes from the pilots (talk about recognition). Some of the flights were so empty then the pilots would come back and talk to each passenger one on one on the long haul flights.
Keep things in perspective, adjust your expectations and practice random acts of kindness, even at Marriotts to FD people. I have been the recipient of better treatment when I do this then when I walk in with a grumpy face, and believe me, after a long day of travel delays, this happens.
Best wishes for your future travels. Remember that you days of working and travel can seem long and hard, but they don't have to be.
jndcoff Wow, you summarized much of what I have been feeling and seeing across the board in the travel industry in the past several years. I, like dansplan and stelzer001, am also LTP and PP and have been for several years, earning it the hard way before rollover nights and CC nights and points. When making LTP meant staying 12 years in the program, etc. I think in general the devaluation of the program comes from a few key things:
Finally, I wanted to comment on your bait-switch comments. Boy are you preaching to the choir! Whatever new algorithm they are using is very clearly bordering on illegal practice, but certainly one could argue it is unethical and tricky. I agree, show me the price I am paying on average, not the "lowest from" price and then increase the rates 20X later in the stay. If this is not illegal bait-switch in the technical sense, it is certainly shady and unethical business practices clearly designed to get the customer to select a property based on the lowest price visible hoping that the customer does not pay attention to the next page in the fine print where the price increases dramatically.
Overall, I, like you, have begun moving toward other properties, but have now made the overall choices as follows:
This is a complicated business and one that they don't recognize or care about loyalty truly. They secretly hope that these programs bring more people in the doors and know that overall they won't lose too many. Once you are in, you are in. Very few people actually switch or leave. So clearly these programs work.
in a post a while back i commented that i hit 2m actual( 5m adjusted ) miles on AA and not a peep out of them. I realized that most travel related companies are similar that is short on recognition. End result is i fly SW a lot to avoid change fees and since now at 2.8m on AA never get upgraded . I no longer stay enough to change hotels but accept what Marriott gives me as a lifetime and enjoy getting into the lounges. So is it half full or half empty i choose the half full
I would tend to agree w/ Jerry. Hotels price like airlines, and having traveling over 25 years for business everyone is basically the same. I am a LP and was PP for many years, over 6million points....although according to Marriott I have 0. I am also tops w/ Hilton, and was w/ Hyatt, less recognition there. Society today has changed, everyone is in a hurry, texting, no more human contact. I stay w/ Marriott due to consistency, and I seem to have had better luck w/ recognition when I was staying as a repeat guest at various properties. I always try to smile, be humble and engage the hotel staff, they always went the extra mile. If I wanted applause I would have joined the circus. Keep the faith.
If I didn't know better, I just read my travel biographies***. Count me in jndcoff and stelzer001 and mrbmbrown. The only thing I cannot agree with is the bait-and-switch - for the sole reason of not having booked a Marriott property in over 39 months having switched my 175-200 nights to Hilton (who, BTW, does not recognize milestones, either).
*** The main differences between our travel patterns is that I normally have long-term engagements at a single client/city for multiple consecutive months and all within North America. Currently 25 months Madison, WI. Previously 23 months Calgary, AB, 9 months Columbus, OH, 23 months Milwaukee, WI, 10 months Charlotte, NC, etc. As such, hotel staff readily recognize me and I get better treatment being such a long-term guest. My biggest request of the venue is to get the same room every week (or one identical) so that there is "normalcy" in the room to act more like a home-away-from-home. If I had a new hotel every night, I would have stopped travelling years ago.