In my corresponces with Marriott Customer care reagarding platinum upgrade policies for paid vs reward stay rooms, I made a shocking discovery. According to platinum Elite benefit #4:'Room Upgrade: Suites not included; upgraded accommodations at no additional charge. Based on room
availability at check-in and limited to a member's personal guestroom. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club International or Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club'. Based on this, I thought we were supposed to receive upgrades if rooms were available. I learned that this is not the case, and upgrades are at the total discretion of the hotel. IMO, this makes the benefit rather meaningless, and explains why there is no consistency between hotels. Here is my response from customer care:
Thank you for your reply.
I apologize for the confusion. Upgraded rooms are a benefit of Elite membership, but again, it is not a guaranteed benefit. With something like allocating rooms for use with points, 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. Hotels are not required to provide complimentary upgrades; therefore, we cannot enforce a guarantee that does not exist. Right now, the only way to guarantee an upgraded room is to reserve one. If a hotel chooses to upgrade a guest, however, our Platinum and Gold members are given first priority.
The vast majority of our hotels recognize the value of upgrading loyal Marriott Rewards members such as yourself, and I regret the Treasure Island Residence Inn chooses to not upgrade guests, even if a room is
available. We understand that upgrades are important to our Elite members; therefore, 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. This information will be used to help improve the room upgrade benefit.
I apologize for the inconvenience and frustration you have experienced,
SuperChief, even as a Plat Prem. member, these are the stated upgrade policies, note that MVC, Residence Inn and TPS are not guaranteed still at the very top tier. Also one of the reasons I choose not to stay at those brands. Courtyards, full service and JW properties seem to pay more attention to status. I do find however that as a Plat Prem. member I have started recieving upgrades more regularly (when using cash) over the past month, even at properties that I've used many many times as a Plat member and never got upgraded. Perhaps Marriott is starting to take note?
When you check in, we’ll upgrade you to our best-available guest room at no additional charge. Not available for suites, Marriott Vacation Club International or Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club. For Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites, upgrades from studio to 1- or 2-bedrooms are not guaranteed.
FWIW, this is the biggest difference I've found so far between Plat and Plat prem, though its new to me so I'm still learning. It is a nice perk though :)
"If a hotel chooses to upgrade a guest, however, our Platinum and Gold members are given first priority.
Since you own multiple weeks of timeshare, I'm certain you are aware that some properties have a long priority list for determining who gets the choice villas. I could be mistaken, but Elite status is not on the MVC list. However, there is such demand for larger units by transient guests, that MVC will turnover unassigned inventory for rental. For more seamless integration, I would like to see Owner status as a criterion for determining loyalty to Marriott. After all, it wasn't until mid-2008 that deeded nights started to qualify for EQN. Did owners complain about getting retroactive credit for all those deeded nights dating back 2 decades?
"The vast majority of our hotels recognize the value of upgrading loyal Marriott Rewards members such as yourself, and I regret the Treasure Island Residence Inn chooses to not upgrade guests, even if a room is available. We understand that upgrades are important to our Elite members; therefore, 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. This information will be used to help improve the room upgrade benefit."
Perhaps this is a step in the right direction. If franchise properties are able to use evasive rate tactics to block rooms in ways that undermine the No Blackout Dates policy, what more of complimentary upgrades? In conjunction with a company-wide study to get some hard numbers, Marriott may also need to implement ongoing monitoring where internal auditors are involved in making certain that Elite benefits are administered in the manner that retains Marriott Rewards credibility. It's one thing to promise a benefit for loyalty, it's another to actually deliver.
After many calls I found out that they change the Residence Inn rewards program this year. There are many that will not even allow an upgrade to a better room with points. I have made calls all the way up the chain to Bill Marriott just to get some visibility on the issue. We need to continue speaking our minds about this issue. I may stay at Marriotts when on business but when traveling on vacation and the only properties are Residence Inns there needs to be a way to get a room suitable for a family with points not only by paying for the room. The hotel would not even allow me to pay the difference in room rates plus the reward to upgrade in advance to a larger room. We need to let the Company know that when we use our rewards we need to be able to get rooms that can accomadate the family. The Residence Inn in question allocated only queen size bed rooms for rewards no matter what the season. If anybody has any idea on how to voice our concern in mass please let me know.
I recently (just last week) worked at the AT&T National Pro Am golf tournament held here in Pebble Beach. The Lodge, which is very expensive was not completely full for the first time in many years. A young family with two small children decided to see what the availability was for Sunday night, just after the tournament ended.
For the price of a room ($695 per night) they were upgraded to a suite with two bedrooms and two baths! Normally this is over $1500 more than a normal room. The Lodge has no frequent guest program, so this done at the discretion of the person checking them in. The family was ecstatic!
Of course the rate for staying is very high and there is a mandatory resort fee to cover tips, etc., but this family received a bonus of about 1500 dollars for their one night.
Scaling this down to the rate most of us pay at a full-service Marriott, and based on availability, and the presence of a loyalty program to which we belong, why can't we expect to get upgraded sometimes, if for no other reason that we would appreciate it?
Undertand your frustration. I think it may be helpful to experience how "upgrades" work over time.
While the elite upgrade "promise" specifically excludes suites, it is my experience that frequently folks at RIs and CTYDs (and other brands) that do room blocking will assign a suite anyway. Keep in mind that all CTYDs and some RIs have very FEW suites anyway.
The "upgrade" promise really focuses on the size, quality, location and view of the room, not whether or not it is a suite. My experience is that I am nearly always upgraded to the best available room in the house --- e.g., usually a room with characteristics that make it "better" than other rooms ---- i.e., a good view, high floor, larger size, better configuration, etc.
That said and regardless of the suite exclusion to the "upgrade" promise, I often experience an upgrade to a suite. At the same time, I fully understand that suites are not officially included in the official "upgrade" protocol.
Out of the 130 or so Marriott nights I experienced in 2009, I would estimate that I was blocked into a suite (without specifically requesting it) somewhere around 25 of those nights. This includes all of the brands at which I stayed last year: SH, CTYD, RI, MARR, JW and REN.
Hope that clarifies how "upgrades" really happen.
It's possible that the premier card does ensure greater benefits. I have one and in Europe I have about a 75% upgrade rate sometimes to huge suites which are almost overwhelming (except at the London County Hall, where the upgraded suites have phenomenal views). I don't stay at Marriotts much at home (since I'm really at home when I'm in this country), but the few times I have have not involved significant upgrades besides the rather paltry check-in gift or points. This might also be because of where I stay when in the US -- rarely large cities, but usually college or university towns. So I'd be interested to hear about upgrade chances, with or without the premier card in cities like NY, DC and LA.