I can tell you that I am. In fact, frustrated is putting is mildly (and is probably more politically correct). I am trying to book a suite at a Residence Inn in Florida, as part of a Spring Break trip for my wife and kids. I have spoken to just about everyone that I can (Platinum line, Rewards desk, General Manager of the property, Customer Care line), and while they are empathetic with my concerns, no one seems to be able to rectify the situation.
The property has 2 bedroom suites available. But because the time of my travel is considered "peak season", they are unavailable for points.
I can understand that part of it. What I can not understand is this:
The rooms are available online for $369 per night. They have rooms available for points, but only the studio. A studio only houses 2 people. This will not work for me as there are 4 in my family. Per the hotel, they do offer the ability to upgrade by using a combination of points and cash. To upgrade to a 1 bedroom, it is 30,000 points per night plus $40-$100 per night (apparently the rate fluctuates). For a 2 bedroom, it is 30,000 points per night plus $140 cash per night. While I am willing to use the points and pay the cash difference, apparently they can not do that either as the "allotted" rooms for points are not available.
Over 1/3 of the total 2 bedroom suites at this property are still available for $369. Yet a combination of points and cash (which to me would seem to have the same value equivalency) can not be done. The 80+ nights a year or more that I stay in Marriott properties does nothing for me in terms of being able to use the points that I have.
I understand that with points that you typically are not going to be able to reserve a suite. The policy seems to be that if there is one available at time of check-in, then you may get lucky. How can I risk traveling to Florida 2 months from now with my wife and kids on the chance that I might get "lucky" with an upgrade?. While I can appreciate that they most likely want to maximize the opportunity for revenue during this period of time, what about the opportunity of allowing me to burn off some of the liability that they have accrued with the points that I have accumulated? I am not expecting to get the 2 bedroom suite on 30,000 points alone. I am not asking them to displace someone who has already reserved a room so that I may use points. All I am asking is to be able to use the system that already exists whereby one can use the points for a "base" room, and pay what is essentially the cash equivalent for the value of the upgraded room.
Am I unreasonable in what I am looking for?
Does anyone have any thoughts on what could be done?
Have you experienced similar issues when trying to redeem your points for a stay?
I ran into this problem at a number of properties. There are some out there where you can never use points because there are no rooms available for the use of points. Sounds like a black out to me, but Marriott still claims to have "no black out" policies. Need to see it change but I have no idea how to get it done. More people are going to have to complain or leave the program all together and use another hotel chain.
Mark, the only issue I had recently was not redeeming my
points but finding a room in NYC. As you stated in your post, it’s all about
peek times I think. My wife and I wanted to spend a couple days in midtown Manhattan
to minimize the parking fees you incur while driving into the city. But just
weeks prior to Xmas, we couldn’t find anything available in the city. I was
able to use my Hilton honors points at the time we wanted and had a wonderful
stay where and when we wanted. I prefer using Marriott hotels and load up heavy
during the year to keep my gold level status. We just booked 3 nights at a
midtown Residence Inn for mid April with no issues.
The "no blackout" is a farce. The "we have rooms, but you can't get one" is more accurate. I like the chain, but this one massively misleading policy is so misguided that they are missing the point. If you truly have a no blackout policy, then don't have blackouts. If you want to "trick" dim witted consumers, you won't. We're not that dim witted. What Marriott does do with this policy is take generally happy consumers and frustrate them to a level where they want to take their business elsewhere. That is the worst type of policy.
As far as your specific situation Mcombs.... You are perfectly justified in your mounting frustration. Your logic is spot on. Marriott should allow you to book this room as they have layed out. Take the studio room with points alone or let you toss a few extra points and a few $$ for the larger suite.
hi Mark, thanks for the post. You have hit the nail on the head there are blackouts of sorts and they come with the inability to use points with the rooms we need or want I am always surprised when I check in if the hotel is full and I get an upgrade and equally surprised when the hotel is not full and I do not get an upgrade. That being said we've had quite a bit of good luck at residents is admittedly not at peak times when we reserved a studio or one bedroom and almost all the times we are upgraded to a two-bedroom or Penthouse two-bedroom suite this is common handy when we've been traveling with friends or we've had kids along. I must admit it even is handy when adjust my wife and I so we can spread out. But you bring up an excellent point: there should be a Marriott rewards platinum Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights would spell out exactly what each platinum member is entitled to, with all the legalese to explain when the hotel is full some of the guarantees may or may not apply. I think if Mary were to specifically state what exactly a platinum member can expect to have when they check in this would all help us greatly however it puts Marriott on the spot in terms of changing or diminishing those perks that we may receive when we check in year-to-year or month-to-month.
I would assume that since we are the basis of Marriott's profit, we could expect no less. In my mind and in my humble opinion the value of Marriott comes from the service we get at a price we pay to get that service. To make the playing field level pardon a Super Bowl reference, we should have a guarantee of those things we can expect an explanation for those things we cannot expect.
Thanks again for your excellent post and I totally agree with you.
Your description appears similar to an experience I had trying to use points at the Residence Inn Treasure Island. The manager at this property has proven that he could care less about loyal Marriott customers, even stating that he would not upgrade a platinum even if rooms were available. If this is where you are trying to book, I suggest you seek alternative locations. You may have better luck booking at the Renaissance Vinoy or the Clearwater Marriott Suites. Although not on the beach, both are within an easy drive and have nice pools on property. I found the management at these properties to be much more accommodating and respectful of MR gold and platinum members.
The property in question is in fact the Residence Inn at Treasure Island. The General Manager at the property is Erica. While she said she understood my issue, she had no ability to fix it. When I asked who did, the response was essentially no one. Whether I contacted the Customer Care line or even Bill's office, essentially it would just come back to her and there would be nothing she could do.
Right now, I have a room booked in Sanibel, albeit not my first choice as it is another couple of hours down the road. I'll take a look at the properties you listed, and I appreciate your thoughts.
You are not the only one frustrated with this situation. My husband travels generally 4-5 days a week about 85% of the year. He accrues an obscene amount of points with Marriott. We are a family of 5 and like to stay in villas when traveling. I have been trying to book a Marriott Vacation Club property for our summer vacation this year. I have spent HOURS searching for ONE that can accomodate us. We have enough airline miles to get us all anywhere we want to go. I have checked Aruba, both US and British Virgin Islands, all of Europe, Florida (don't really want to go here as we have been so many times our kids won't go), Hawaii, St. Kitts, Costa Rica, ETC, ETC... I cannot find one property willing to take points for a villa of any size. They don't have points rooms available, however, their hotels are empty. Many rooms available. It seems ridiculous for them to leave the rooms empty versus take our points. Being a family of 5, we spend a nice chunk of money in their hotels on top of the room. We are willing to give them 500,000 points for a week if we can just get it! I'm considering asking my husband to start staying with another chain. I am truly that frustrated. We only get one week a year as a family and I would like to enjoy it at a place of our choosing, not just any place I can find available. Marriott gets enough of our money throughout the year and it would be nice if they could return the favor one week for us. Good luck to you in your search. I hope the hotel decides to accomodate you.
I had a situation 3 years ago, right after they instituted the "no blackout" policy. My wife and I were planning a trip to Europe and wanted to spend 5 nights in Rome under the "deal" where you could get 5 nights for 4 nights worth of points. I started checking availability 335 days in advance, but I kept getting "no availability" for points, even though there were rooms available if you were willing to pay. I finally found availability at the Courtyard at the airport, but that would not have been conducive to really enjoying the city.
I finally wrote a letter to Bill Marriott, explaining that I had been a loyal Marriott member since they started the program and had maintained either Gold or Platinum status for the prior 5 years. I questioned whether there really was a "no blackout" policy or if it was just a bait-and-switch tactic.
About 5 days later, I got a call from his International Assistant. She advised me that an Award Reservation had been booked for us at the Grand Flora hotel, which is on the Via Veneto, just inside the wall of the city. The following day, I received an email from the General Manager at the hotel, saying that they had reserved a special room for us and were looking forward to our visit.
When we checked in, we were assigned a Junior Suite with a nice view of the city (the posted "rack" rate was $1,200 Euros per night). The hotel does not have a lounge, but we received complimentary breakfast buffets during our stay in the rooftop restaurant.
Sometimes it helps to make a little noise.
Thanks Phil. I don't diagree, and short of writing to Mr. Marriott directly, I have been trying to plead my case through the appropriate channels- including the use of this board. I know that Marriott has created "new boards" recently that are monitored, but I have to assume they are also reading the posts that are going on elsewhere. In fact, when I made my first post, this group/topic was receiving responses from the Community Manager.
As I look at my original post of 6 weeks ago, there have been over 500 views of what I wrote. While I would think this might generate a proactive approach from a company- to try and reach out to the customer who has an issue in an attempt to try and resolve it, apparently my wheel has not been "squeaky" enough, or they simply do not care. Perhaps they look at my profile and see the "token" gesture of the 5000 points, and feel nothing more needs to be done? I have to imagine that there is at least one Executive sitting amongst the cubicles at their corporate offices that has seen my post or in the unlikely event that they haven't, that there is at least one person with the authority to resolve the issue if they so chose to do so.
In hindsight, I probably should have responded to the form letter email that I got from the GM that had the Guest Experience Supervisor copied in. But quite honestly, I thought the demeanor of the Guest Services Supervisor was so poor in my phone conversation (she really did seem the least empathetic to my issues and seemed to just be going through the motions), that I fully anticipated that I would be receiving some sort of generic response to my complaint. Here is the letter:
From: B., Erica
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2012 11:25 AM
To: C., Mark
Cc: Guest Experience Supervisor
Subject: Residence Inn Treasure Island
Good Morning Mark,
Thank you for your recent inquiry to Marriott Customer care.
It was a pleasure speaking with you the other day. I certainly understand your frustration over the difficulty with the availability of booking our Two Bedroom Suites in March with your Marriott Reward Points.
To explain further, our property is one of the only two Marriotts located directly on the beach, on the entire West Coast of Florida. We are a high redemption hotel, also known as a Marriott Rewards category 6 property. Thus, it costs 30,000 Marriott Reward points for our Studio and then for any additional room type, an upgrade fee is required. When utililizing Marriott Reward points, it is acting as a discount. Like all discounts for rates, they are subject to availability. March is our peak season here in Treasure Island, therefore there is limited availability for redeeming points in room types such as our Two Bedroom Suites.
As a Platinum Elite member, your loyalty and satisfaction is very important to Marriott. While it doesn't make up for the inconvenience with booking on points, I will be crediting your marriott rewards account with 5,000 Bonus points as small token of our appreciation for your loyalty to Marriott.
Please let me know if I may be of any additional service.
Residence Inn Marriott
11908 Gulf Blvd.
Treasure Island, FL 33706
(727) 367-2761 (Office)
Further, it was in the phone conversation with the GM that she pretty much told me it did not matter whom I spoke with, the issue would just get sent back to her and essentially there was nothing that could be done. When I received her letter, it pretty much confirmed what she had stated. Up until this point, I had pretty high regards for Marriott's customer service. I felt that they had always done "the right thing" and even perhaps did a little more for the elite travellers. Now I have come to realize that they, like so many others, are mostly lip service about their concerns associated to loyalty and satisfaction.
Here is an update. Despite still having rooms available today (1 bedroom suites), I still can not use points with the cash upgrade. We are 6 weeks from when I first started this, and I am no further along. The GM at the facility was kind enough to deposit 5,000 points into my account a few weeks ago- as a token of their appreciation for my loyalty to the brand (no doubt in response to my complaint to the Customer Care desk). It is kind of ironic however when you think about it. I have plenty of points already, and really, what good are they if you can not use them to stay in the places you want.
It seems that several of you have experienced similar treatment, and I do not disagree that the "no blackout dates" is kind of a ruse that Marriott uses. Sure, they can say that they made rooms available for point stay, but the reality is that the only rooms that seem to be available are 2 person Studios. That does not work for a family of four.
At this point they have beaten me down. I am relinquishing the battle. There is no doubt a bitter taste still in my mouth. The vindictive side of me hopes that the rooms remain un-booked at this point for the entire period that I would have gladly stayed there. I am willing to risk the bad karma that may be generated.
I've never had trouble booking with points. However, have run into the studio vs. suite barrier before, but it was resolved through a phone call. Might make a reservation somewhere else then cancel if at the last minute what you want becomes available. Remember that Marriott is known as a master of revenue enhancement through the use of analytics.
Mark, this is the black hole of Marriott Rewards points redemption. I have found that there are rooms just not at the time I wanted. I have called hotels directly with only limited success. I can sympathize but know that railing against the system does not work in this case. One good thing is that enough of us point this out to the powers that be, we might see a consideration of a change in policy.
thanks for the idea. Not sure it would have worked though. I offered to pay the cash difference for the room upgrade and was denied. I was willing to spend the 30k a night in points for the studio room and pay the upgrade fee of $140 per night. At the time, all the various rooms were available- Studio, 1 bedroom adn 2 bedroom. At no time did I ever ask for a complimentary upgrade to a 1 bedroom or a 2 bedroom for just the 30k in points. I did not see the need to pay the full rate- given that they have a policy for a cash upgrade, and I still do not understand why a combination of points and cash should have been denied.
It is something that I will look into trying next time I encounter this.
The easiest way for me to avoid this issue when I'm traveling with my family is to book 2 rooms. Generally, I have an extra free night certificate that I use for 1 room, and I book another room using points. I admit, there have been times where I have needed to pay for 1 room, and use points for the second room. As my children are a little older now, this works out extremely well for my family travels.
I can't speak for problems that Travelerswife has had trying to get a reservation, but I've had very good sucess using my Marriott points at Vacation Club properties. This might be a better option than a Residence Inn. I think that the family would enjoy one of those properties more, but that's my opinion. The points might be slightly more, but the properties do offer upgrades to "family suites" for around 5,000 points a night extra.
I appreciate the thought. As this is a Spring Break trip, one of the only requests from my wife and kids was to stay somewhere on the beach. We have a number of friends and neighbors that are also travelling down, and this would have been the ideal location. As both of my kids are still a little young, would only work if I had adjoining rooms.
I usaully travel over 250 nights a year and have platinum status with Marriott and I am also Diamond VIP with Hilton and Platinum with Priority Club, as well as Hyatt. I have spent a very frustrating couple of weeks trying to book more than a studio at a Residence Inn, I have tried using the flex dates and have found nothing available at 6 Residence Inns even though I extended the dates out until March 2013. I also found this to be the case with their vacation club properties. When I called up reservations I was basically told forget about it. It's not going to happen as suites are generally not available for points. The hotels had plenty of suites, just not available for points or upgrades. I'll be travelling with my wife, daughter and her husand and their 5 kids so 2 bedroom suites are what I was looking for.
I've talked with reservations and the platinum help desk to no avail. I've come to the conclusion that Marriotts supposed dedication to their customers, their no black out dates, and their upgrade policy is just a marketing ploy to get us to stay with them.
I currently have almost 1 million points with Hilton so I will be looking at what they have available. I doubt that I will ever stay in a Marriott again.
I've mentioned this several times before, but I am pleased with the way the Marriott Cheques system works. Book the room you want and pay with the Marriott money. 135,000 points for $1000 of Marriott money. It's not always as good of a deal as just using points, but it can get you the room you want.
I'm really sorry to hear that you are considering leaving the "Marriott" family. I realize that this might not be ideal, but generally
when I need a suite for my family travels I book more than 1 room. Perhaps, this is an option. Or, you can transfer points to your daughter and have her book another room on points. Also, in the past, I have found that suite upgrades into a 2 bedroom suite, especially @ Residence Inns are very difficult to get, even with the offer of additional points for the suite upgrade option. That's one of the reasons that I chose Vacation Club properties when I need a suite. As of yet, I've not been "blacked out" for any reason when staying at a Vacation Club property.
With respect to the Hilton program, congrats on the million point barrier. I speak from experience when I say that's a tough one to reach while maintaining the other hotel programs as well.
I realize that this is a very personal decision to abandon Marriott, but I've found that Marriott offers more options than some of the other programs. With the 5th night free option and airmiles /hotel stay option, Marrriot offers an extremely competive value for your points spent. I would hope that you would reconsider.
Just as a side note, on my last trip to Hawaii, I booked the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and despite using over 500,000 points for a 1 week stay, I was not upgraded into a Family Suite. There were plenty of suites available, but I was not given a family suite as part of my Diamond member upgrade. Loved the property, but there's a Marriott property right next door that I could have stayed at for less than 1/2 the points. I guiess that I'm trying to tell you that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.
Once again, good luck with your decision!
Greetings mcombs, your determination can certainly never be questioned. Although it sounds like your plans changed, it wasn't without a valiant effort.
Without getting too far into the weeds on this, I do want to help explain what appears to have happened. Obviously every property has its own mix of room types and availability, but as part of our no blackout policy, each property is required to allocate rooms for standard redemptions. So in your case mcombs, the standard rooms were available for redemption although they didn't fit your needs. The redemption upgrade availability is up to the discretion of each individual property (even with cash availability) and may depend upon factors like the time of year, occupancy, etc., which is why it must have felt like you were talking in circles.
I realize this does little to amend your time and effort, but I hope your family enjoys spring break!
Any traction being made on suite upgrades for Platinum members? Or even the ability to upgrade to a suite with more points? How about a promotion for a suite upgrade after a certain amount of nights stayed... Anything would be better than what we currently have now.
....which is fine, but please don't call it "no blackout dates" for points redemption - as this clearly isn't true. "no blackout dates at the total discretion of the hotel in question" would be more accurate.
I find it extremely annoying to have earned enough points for a special occasion somewhere, only to be told that points redemptions are not available, yet I can see that many rooms clearly are available. This isn't the way to treat Platinum / Platinum Premier customers.