As several others have pointed out, there's a trend developing in the MRI ==> higher frequency of negative postings about the "Marriott Experience." Some Insiders point to lack of training of Marriott associates. Recent loyalty program surveys has Hilton ranked ahead of Marriott. My unscientific tally of recent postings has much ado about lack of status recognition or perks being almost non-existent or harder than ever to get. Regardless, I think the trend is REAL and was predictable.
I, and a few other MR Insiders (fondly known as the dilution conspirators) essentially warned Insiders in several posts that making it too easy to attain Elite status with rollover nights, bonus nights, Visa nights, etc. would degrade and erode the status as it would create disproportionate numbers of Platinum and Gold members as compared to prior years. Perhaps others were visionaries with the spirited discussions to create a "Plutonium" status to really single out the uber-members now that elite statuses had become too homogeneous.
Hmmmm. . . . maybe we (dilution conspirators) were on to something?
I'm not one of the dilution conspirators, but one of its beneficees. However, I would counter the issue on two possible grounds, one based on Marriott's model (which is not personal). Marriott already requires more nights than other hotel brands to reach highest status, and most other hotel brands offer free internet, breakfast, etc. Marriott could compete itself out of the market. (Although judged by recent messages it might be doing so by other means.)
My personal objection would be that it is all based on nights stayed. No way I am going to stay the amount of nights stayed as most businesspeople in the US. My job (alas, sabbatical is nearly over) as a professor totally prevents that.
However, I would not be averse to an either/or way of earning status, like Delta does. I would never, ever make their highest level with segments flown, but I always make it because of miles flown. Since I almost always stay in Europe or the Middle East, I always pay very high hotel costs plus in euros, which may disappear in the not too distant future, but currently cost $1.43 times the US Dollar. So if amount spent counted, I have no doubt I would make Platinum yearly. But just like with Delta's segments, no way on nights stayed. So until they change to an either/or system I'm very happy getting extra nights through VISA spending or any other means.
PS - Just to give an example that I know is always the base rate: the Grand Flora in Rome charges a minimum of 269 euros per night -- that's $1540 for four nights.
Conspiracy theories sometimes contain elements of truth, many of which are later revealed. In this case I'll admit that what's been happening with Marriott has, overall, become a less pleasant experience for many of us (myself included).
The process and reality of rewarding loyalty requires constant attention on the part of Marriott to reward the most loyal. In my opinion, a kind of idling has occured, whereby Marriott makes changes infrequently and not always to the benefit of the uber-stayers. Combined with the propensity of many Associates to not recognize that uber-status, we often find ourselves in the take-it-or-leave-it checkin, and not much recourse when we have to stay somewhere.
So, dilution aside, conpriacy theories have some merit, and should be discussed as we move along earning our nights. It's only fair.
Hi Insiders - I couldn't agree more with the good Professor. I, too, would, as a state govt. attorney, never meet the requirements for Platinum Elite on nights stayed alone, however between the credit card, caryover nights, etc, I am able to. This year, while I might actually make it on nights alone (several unexpected trips!), is the exception. This doesn't mean that I'm not as loyal a Marriott customer as others - in fact, my recommendation of Marriott properties to others has probably earned Marriott more business than I give them myself!
Perhaps I'm not very demanding, but I have never felt as if I was being treated in a way not befitting a Platinum member. I have been upgraded to suites and not upgraded to suites - it depends on the Marriott property. I'm most successful in getting the upgrade when I call the hotel ahead of time, request to speak to the front-desk manager, and directly ask about an upgrade.
I only stay at Marriott properties not because of the elite status, but becuase, frankly, I find them on a property-to-property basis, to be generally spotlessly clean, well maintained, and welcoming.
I understand the concerns that some of my fellow insiders may have, but to me, the changes that should be considered include such things as having concierge lounges open on weekends, increasing the Platinum welcome gift to both points and a snack, rather than either/or, and perhaps such things as Platinum discounts on spa services at properties with a spa, and offering all benefits at resorts.
As one of those first that talked about the dilution of Platinum/Gold Status quite awhile ago, I hope those that questioned this assertion, now see what I was talking about. Clearly, service to Marriotts most loyal customers has deteriorated significantly. I have many examples of this, but the latest is for my stay at the Residence Inn in Pompano Beach. I had a terrible experience there. To rub salt in the wound, I got an e-mail from the Assistant General Manager there asking me to call him to discuss my poor experience. I returned his call and left him a message on his phone and to date have not heard back from him..but with the service I have been getting lately, I am not suprised. I guess they are just too busy to address concerns of their most loyal customers. I will never never never stay at this Residence Inn again. Its a shame.
-- Edited by Jasper100 at Aug 15, 2011 12:09 PM PDT-- Edited by Jasper100 at Aug 15, 2011 12:10 PM PDT
Jasper100, et al...
so maybe now we can stop applauding Marriott for its lauded "customer service" initiative. Clearly, the posts are becoming more and more slanted in one direction and they are not headed in the right direction.
The disappointing service in one thing, the failure to make the most loyal customers happy is another. I think ss hit on something when he mentioned stagnation in the program. All to often, when we receive something,( even if it is above and beyond) long enough, we tend to take it for granted and the "lift" that the giver has every right to expect, disapates to nothing. New Awards always resonate and Marriott should consider changing things up a bit in order to "freshen" things.
Finally, the dilution conversation is interesting. Of course, those that would not normally qualify for a particular level would support current opportunities to achieve higher status. And, of course, those who achieve status the hard way ( # of nights away from home), will argue the dilution theory. I choose to not scorn those who reach a certain level any way they can, but would challenge marriott to ensure that all of their elite members feel "special" and appreciated. Isn't that what we are all talking about??
I am one of those who has benifited I suppose, but I have been told if you are nice to people they will generally be nice to you. Staying at a hotel is a business arrangement between you and the hotel, but I have been pleasantly suprised many times with upgrades and overall Marriott treats me better than their competitors have. I am not sure the analogy of dilution is a realistic assumption given the world today. Point dillution is likely because of inflation, but not any more so than dollars at least as of yet. Bottom line, work with the hotel and more times than not my experience is they will work with you. Sorry to be longwinded.
First, I'm a her, not a him :).
But I think you made my point about the either/or approach -- you would not make it with dollars spent; I could not make it with nights spent but would with dollar equivalents if Marriott instituted a Delta sort of program. My college only subsidizes a small portion of the cost of my research trips, so I'm paying most of the cost myself.
I would say, more often than not, I get the treatment I would expect. I probably get upgraded about 25% of the time. Most of the places I stay are in high population urban areas and are usually fully booked, so it is understandable they won't always have upgrades available. With all but one exception, my status has been recognized. On several occasions lately, I have received my check in bonus points AND at least a bottle of water and sometimes a snack too.
So, all and all, I am fairly pleased with my treatment as a platinum.