If, as allowed under the terms and conditions, Marriott were to discontinue Marriott Rewards tomorrow what would you do? Is there a reason to continue patronizing the brand without the points?
Here is the terms and conditions language:
The Company and its travel partners have the right to change, limit, modify or cancel the Rewards Program Rules, Rewards and reward levels at any time, with or without notice, even though such changes may affect the value of Points or Miles, or the ability to obtain certain Rewards. The Company and its travel partners may, among other things: a) increase or decrease the number of Points or Miles received for a stay or required for a Reward; b) withdraw, limit, modify or cancel any Reward; c) add blackout dates, limit rooms available for any Reward at any participating hotel or otherwise restrict the continued availability of Rewards; d) change program benefits, travel partners, locations served by the Company or its travel partners, conditions of participation, rules for earning, redeeming, retaining or forfeiting Points or Miles, or rules governing the use of Rewards; e) change or cancel its travel partner Rewards. In accumulating Points or Miles, Members may not rely upon the continued availability of any Reward or Reward level, category or tier. (emphasis added by me)
What if the Marriott Rewards program were altered to merely award elite status and no points? Same outcome for staying members or not?
Now, what if all hotel brands decided collectively to eliminate "frequent sleeper programs" entirely? What would you do?
I pose these hypothetical questions to myself from time to time to get a better sense (grip?) on why I remain loyal to a brand. In terms of airlines I was very loyal to United until they changed theior program, I flew less, and they morphed into a flying bus!
Marriott has not fallen into this trap of forgetting me as a valued member I am pleased to say. My loyalty is being rewarded, albeit less frequently, by having maintained membership in the program. Hope that continues to be the case.
But what if?
I doubt they would discontinue the program but what if? Then I would no longer be loyal to the Marriott and they certainly would lose most of my business, if not all of it. I doubt all hotel brands would eliminate this because they would see Marriotts hypothetical change of program as a chance to win over Marriotts business. Another Question, what if Marriott... went into bankruptcy in the event of a major downturn in the economy. We know that airlines have gone down this path. What if????????????
By the way, please do not mark me as answering the question, because I do not want to be accused of trying to Garnish Participation points.
I doubt Marriott will discontinue their rewards program. The genie is out of the bottle on that score. They can't do it unless everyone else does it. Short of Marriott going out of business it's just not going to happen. If they were to go out of business I'm sure other hotel groups would snatch up the management contracts on the properties and meld all MRP folks into their respective programs. The bigger issue, and much more realistic, is what happens to the folks that own their timeshares should the new TS spinoff decide to disassociate itself from Marriott. I doubt this will happen either but it's much more of a real possibility than Marriott cancelling the rewards program.
There is nothing to stop Marriott from increasing the requirements of the program however. They, and other "frequent" programs, do this on a fairly regular basis.
These are the kinds of posts I live for. I think as most airlines found out, their loyalty programs are the continuing reasons for their existence. Should Marriott discontinue its loyalty program, as it can under the stated rules, they would be the ultimate losers, because customers would go to the sites that continue to have such programs. I, for one, would not stay at a Marriott again if the program was discontinued, and I'd also cancel my Chase Marriott card.
I stay because of the perks, especially room upgrades and Concierge Lounges, but more and more hotel chains are offering matching status. So especially in a time when at least the bulk of Insiders' comments about recent Marriott stays have been negative, I would certainly hope that they continue their loyalty program or even improve it.
As someone who both flies internationally about 12 times a year and earns Delta loyalty at high levels (and contrary to many expressed opinions, I have never had any problems), but stays in places where Marriotts have no presence, I am up for grabs in the loyalty hotel program business. As long as I maintain a high level and get benefits, I'm likely to stay at Marriotts when I can. But if they degrade their loyalty program or if I have more experiences like I did many months ago at the Rive Gauche, that goes out the window. Loyalty is a two-way street.
I am serious, with government anti-business pressure, and the fact that other major companies, like Budget rent a car, have done away with the ff program, it will happen in the hotel industry. Remember when we had travel agents, TWA, "Health Insurance", and more, out best days for these kind of programs are behind us. I don't want it, but "Costs or costs", and this web-site is an expensive situation. All my life I have seen the "Bean counters" win in the long run vrs. the innovators and "Talented". These ff programs will be no exception.
For what my opinion is worth, I would say don't worry. While I fully expect to see continued downgraded service (as many of us have noted over the past year), miles and points have become the cash cow of FF and hotel stays. While many airlines and hotels might have wished they'd not gotten in the business in the first place, they pretty much can't get out without losing millions of customers. This is not my opinion, but that of Randy Petersen of InsideFlyer.
To add my two cents, any FF or frequent hotel stay program that changes its points program for the worse, I will no longer be a member. But I don't see it happening-- witness, e.g. Best Western matching other highest level program status.
They may wish they hadn't gotten into the frequent program, whether airlines or hotels, but they can't get out of it without losing a major share of their business.
Several posts in the past had this theme and most replies were, "it's all about the points" or "status treatment/upgrades" - once again mentioned in this discussion.
IF MR were to cease, I believe 80+% of elite status members would jump ship. Generally, hotel rooms are homogeneous and very little differentiates one hotel's offering from another (some exceptions like the very low-end chains). All the major players have similar structure in their "high-end" brands and the "low-end". Given a similar match, I beg anyone to explain to me the HUGE differentiator as to why (other than loyalty) one chain is chosen over the other - price being the other exception. As in my first statement, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE POINTS and perceived (yes, what we perceive to be perks versus what are actually received as perks) special treatment.
Whatever chain kills off their loyalty program will die on the vine if others do not follow suit (and immediately).
This is an interesting discussion. In my early career I traveled extensively, mostly internationally, and had top status at United and Delta, plus a couple of different lodging companies. I enjoyed the perks of these programs, and the program definitely influenced my travel plans. In this latest phase of my career, I don't fly consistently enough to gain any kind of status with one airline, and I have to submit justification (cost comparisons) for any airline tickets I purchase. Lodging is a bit different. Marriott has been my second home for several years, and the perks associated with my status are certainly the reason I stay there. Without rewards or points, I would switch to the best deal, whereas now I will pay more for Marriott to stay at a Marriott. This is why degradation of service, both in changes in t's and c's as well as in-hotel negative experiences, matters so much to me. If I am choosing Marriott and its a bit more money or a bit farther from my business meeting, I need my experience to be consistent in terms of service, benefit and security. Unfortunately, there are a lot of variations these days.
JerryCoin has it right in my opinion. while it is unlikely that the program will be abolished any time soon, there is no question that the value has been diminished and will continue down that path. Marriott isn't alone in this regard. Each of the 'Reward Programs' I participate in have experienced the same discounted valuations. That said, despite our outrage over changes in reward programs, many of us are creatures of habit, and once we have become comfortable with ALL the qualities of a particular company, as long as there isn't a viable alternative, that company would maintain a lofty position in our list of options. As I have mentioned many times before, I am convinced (much to my chagrin) that companies most often make a stronger effort to attract customers they do not have than the effort they make to keep the ones they already have. Think of all the promos you mare exposed to with great offers, only to read the line " available to new customers only".
Alas Shoeman, you've (hob)nailed it (got to stop with these footwear jokes right? Seriously you hit the theme and hit it well: Marriott is not alone in the "let's tweak it and see what happens" theory of program changes. Recall that unspent (unredeemed) points are carried on their balance sheet, and potentially represent a lot of revenue lost if all cashed at once.
The tug of war in any enterprise is always between the accountants and the visionaries. Companies like
Apple are out there unapologetically charging more for a product than their competitors, almost never discounting, yet innovating and creating a demand. Marriott and other lodging providers are in a fierce battle to win over a traveling public through quality and loyalty programs. Pricing is market driven.
That being said, it seem harder for them to innovate, but easier to adjust loyalty programs. Adjusting for Marriott means some members will be thrilled, many will not. Lodging revenues may increase even with the program tweaks and if so embolden the tweakers to tweak more and more. We have not seen the end of these loyalty program "improvements."
Just my two cents worth, but thanks Shoeman for making sense of this. I donate all my posts to you in gratitude!!!!!!!
SS and you have put it so well!
Look at the way travel has changed and is so less "Fashionable" than it used to be. I have not seen the show, but that TV show about "Pan Am", really sounds like a story of where we are headed in hotels. When you go to small towns and FF's are over $100 per night and there are many choices close by for less than half, it does "Test your loyalty"!
actually, that's a pretty safe bet. one thing for sure, the status quo just won't cut it anymore. shareholders will not accept mediocrity. the airline industry has opened the gates for anyone willing to walk thru regarding ala cart services. I cannot begin to guess the eventual shape this will take in the hotel industry. we will just need to wait and see.
SS and Jasper,
We will be going the way of Southwest Airlines. I fly them because sometimes I have no choice, but a "Cattle car". This is the direction of the hotel business. Thanks for the CL's because without them it is going to be very dismal. I am glad the travel days I had were so great, but I am not optimistic about the future.
If/when this happens I will move to another hotel chain. If no one is giving points/status then I'm pretty sure I will not travel much. I can only hope that the points I have today will stand long enough to take the family vacation to Australia and NZ. That should pretty much "cash me out" from both Marriott and American as it will be a 5-6wk trip and likely require 1M FF miles with AA/One World and probably the same with Marriott (or more). I cant take the trip for at least 3 more years, my daughter just isnt old enough yet to really make the trip memorable for her (she's 3) so we are hoarding points for now
I would certainly hope that *if* this type of change came out, we would be provided enough notice to actually use our points without them just being gone overnight.
Actually I have spent over a million points in free weeks here and there. I keep the Marriott merchandise catalog nearby just in case there's a chance the points will evaporate--and I need a couple HDTVs!!!!
My time to spend is limited by my budget and "work" schedule too. Just ask Mrs. SS.
My hoarding of points is sorta tempered by two things. First getting enough points amassed to take the dream trip to the other side of the world and do it in style The second is by how often I seem to dip into the pile o points for fun trips between now and then I probably manage to keep 100-150k points year over year in the acct and spend the others I earn throughout the year (300k+/yr). I figure at that burn vs save rate, I should have the 1M in the acct by the time my daughter is old enough to make the trip.
Some of my coworkers have several million points in their account, I've often asked why. They typically take the entire family for a week or two each year some place and use points for everything (cruises, hotel/air, etc) and of course like to have a bit of a rainy day fund. Maybe one day I'll get to where I can keep that many points in my pocket, I just like to use them too much
Am with The Professor and you!
I use them as often as I can, just used 200,000 for London County Hall, and it saved me thousands that I would not have spent. You, and the others know what food costs are like when you travel. I think Switzerland is way more expensive than even Paris or London, and those great breakfasts and CL's make a big difference.
I finally figured out how to post pictures again on the new site. (So I may be dangerously boring!) Here's a photo of one of my "Hero's", Flavia, CL at The Grosvenor House in London, she and the rest of the staff there were wonderful!
Steppingstones, as always you post the thought-provoking questions.
Like most, if Marriott eliminated the points that transfer into "free" nights, I, too, would look to other hotel marques. (Please note that I put "free" in quotes. Those free nights are hardly free - we have all paid for them by spending money at Marriott properties, or spending money at other places and charging it on our Marriott Visa card.) The points are just one way that Marriott can return to us the favor of our business.
If, however, all other hotel chains eliminated their rewards programs, that raises its own set of issues. On the one hand, Marriott could be at a major competitive disadvantage because, let's face it, the Rewards program does cost them money that now their competitors would not be spending on a similar program. On the other hand, it could be argued that Marriott would then be able to stand-out by offering more to its loyal customers. However, if they become the only chain with such a program, would Marriott gain so many new customers that it would make taking advantage of our benefits next to impossible?
I agree with you that Marriott has not forgotten me as a loyal patron either, but I also agree with you that the rewards are a bit less frequent. I try to be one of the less demanding Platinum level members as I try to keep in mind that for every benefit offered, there is a corresponding cost to Marriott which will, in the long run be passed on to all of us either in the form of increased rates or diminished Rewards benefits.
Finally, the discussion your question has engendered is the type of discussion that the Insiders page has been known for. Again, thank you for raising some excellent questions, and thanks for posting to the many Insiders whose "names" always stand for thoughtful and reasoned responses.