Marriott International announced changes to their status and benefits on September 19th, 2018. Their new program facilitates the ability of members with elite status (Marriott Rewards Gold or Platinum) with certain properties to stay 90 days in a single calendar year without bookings booked over 180 days before travel. This change also eliminates award charts, which previously helped members identify how much they would need for an upcoming trip and what type of redemption they could expect from it.

Marriott International announced changes to their hotel status and benefits at the beginning of 2019. These will include extensions for elite level stays, changing how Hilton Honors is earned, and no longer offering award charts. How Marriott’s new approach may impact loyalty programs in general.

The “marriott category changes 2021 list” is a blog post by Marriott, which outlines the many changes that will be made to their hotels in 2021. The article also includes an overview of the status and benefits extensions, as well as the dropping award charts.

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Marriott Makes Major Changes: Status and Benefits Extending, Award Charts Dropping

on October 26, 2021 by Gary Leff

Marriott is expanding elite status once again, as well as free night and suite upgrade certificates, as well as deferring point expiry and making free night certificates more accessible. Starting in March, they’ll phase out reward charts in favor of a revenue-based redemption scheme.

Points, certifications, status, and upgrades may all be extended.

Marriott is extending elite status once again, prolonging the pause on point expiry, and extending the validity of free night certificates, after Hilton’s announcement last month. Suite night rewards are now being extended as a choice perk for Platinum and Titanium members.

Unlike Hilton, they are not carrying over elite nights earned in 2021, and they are not announcing any changes to the 2022 qualifying standards. They want members back on the elite treadmill as soon as possible next year, though when I spoke with David Flueck, Marriott’s Senior Vice President of Global Loyalty, about these changes, he hinted that we’d see offers to speed up elite requalification next year, and that they’ll “certainly be thinking about how our members have lots of great offers” for status in 2022.

  • Extension of the status. The elite status granted in 2021 will be extended to 2022. (meaning that it will expire at the end of February 2023). This is true regardless of whether status was acquired in 2019 for 2020 or in 2020 for 2021. Members who achieved a higher degree of status in 2021 will, of course, maintain it. With all of the deals this year, I’ll be Titanium (75 nights) instead of Platinum next year (50 nights).
  • The time limit on points expiry has been extended one again, this time until December 31, 2022. Anyone who hasn’t had any action in their account during the epidemic only has to do it by the end of the year in order to maintain their points.
  • Extension of the Suite Night Award. Suite Night Awards that are set to expire at the end of 2021 will be extended for another six months, until June 30, 2022. In December, expiration dates will be updated.
  • Extension of the free night prize. Any free nights that are due to expire before June 30, 2022 will be extended until June 30, 2022. I have three American Express free nights (one for 35,000 points and two for 50,000 points) that are about to expire in the first few days of January, and this will allow me an additional six months to enjoy them.
  • The terms of the free night rewards are becoming increasingly permissive. One of the biggest annoyances is hotels that price themselves just out of reach of a free night reward due to busy season, such as a hotel that charges 40,000 points on the day you wish to redeem a certificate good for stays up to 35,000 points. Marriott will begin enabling members to “top up” free night rewards with up to 15,000 points beginning early next year.

    Free night awards eligible for stays up to 35,000 points may be used on 50,000 point hotel nights (with extra points), and free night awards valid for stays up to 50,000 points can be used on 65,000 point hotel nights (with additional points).

    This modification only affects basic room redemptions. You can’t use additional points to get a free night voucher for a premium stay or to get cash and points. And it doesn’t make the free night rewards go any farther — in fact, I’m guessing that the overall redemption modifications devalue them. However, the ability to top up will make these nights, which are often earned via Marriott co-brand credit cards, more convenient to spend.

Other programs that have extended elite status have done things to reward consumers who achieved and re-earned status during stays and flights in 2021. Loyalty programs, as I noted last month, need to provide more for consumers who qualify ‘the right way.’ After all, if a member stays loyal to ensure that they maintain their position, they may feel tricked if they subsequently discover that all of their efforts were for nothing.

While status extensions will be a comfort for some customers – and no doubt Marriott recognizes that despite the promotions and incentives they’ve made this year, they’re still failing to preserve their elite status – it will also cause dissatisfaction among another group of consumers.

Award Charts are being phased out.

Marriott is phasing out reward charts in March 2022, promising redemption pricing that “more closely mirror hotel rates,” according to David Flueck. Because of the revenue-based redemption model, members are naturally concerned about the worth of their points in comparison to the room price. He wouldn’t specify, but said he didn’t “expect the value [of a point] to alter.”

We’d have to wait and see, David said.

  • There are more pricing points now than previously. There will be more than eight hotel classifications, each having off-peak, normal, and peak pricing.
  • In 2022, most hotels will not adjust their prices much. While the category chart will be removed, “97 percent of hotels will continue vary between off-peak and peak until 2022,” implying that most hotels will not modify their prices by orders of magnitude. That’s a one-year pledge, and it’s just about the points range, not typical redemption costs.

    Marriott will “adjust pricing based more closely on hotel rates” for stays beginning in 2023. This, I assume, will not imply that things have improved.

  • There will be more rooms available for redemption. Flueck indicated that the minimum number of rooms a hotel must supply to the program would not change, therefore this will have to be done by increasing the amount Marriott will pay for rooms in some way. To view the revised economics, I’ll have to wait till a hotel releases an updated program guide. (Previously, Marriott compensated properties depending on the number of redemption nights they provided every year; the more rooms they offered, the more they were paid for all of those nights.)

    In addition, “additional premium rooms should be available for redemption,” according to the Bonvoy program, which is “working hard with owners to assure.” The premium room pricing structure (as an add-on to the basic redemption fee) will remain unchanged.

  • Price changes are made more often. There will be no more yearly category modifications since there will be no more categories. Currently, hotel dates alternate between off-peak, standard, and peak on a monthly basis. Pricing adjustments will occur more often in the future than once a month, but in lower amounts than a category modification would have entailed.
  • Only 3% of hotels will experience significant improvements right now. Hotels that have witnessed considerable recovery, higher average daily rates” will be the ones to go up, according to Flueck, since redemption costs are outsized in comparison to room rates. This is “not necessarily the most costly” hotels, which I interpret to indicate hotels that are near to capacity and where Marriott is paying out override prices for rooms (real average daily rates rather than reduced redemption rates), as well as bringing in higher-than-expected room rates.

Increasing the number of rooms available for redemption at average value isn’t going to benefit members. It is not in the best interests of members to remove the transparency of an award chart and change redemption rates more often.

The basic idea behind points is that they may be redeemed for a large amount of money.

  • Hotel chains are able to purchase merchandise at a lower cost than visitors. This is especially true in the case of surplus inventory.
  • Guests, on the other hand, value their stay at the price they would have paid for it. As a result, the hotel chain may offer discounted accommodations to members who redeem their points.
  • With fixed or reward chart pricing, it makes sense to pay cash for a hotel when it’s cheap and redeem points when it’s costly — in other words, obtaining more value for your points.
  • However, connecting redemption prices to cash ensures that you always obtain average value and eliminates the chance of outsized value. Collecting points no longer has any value, and they’re no longer about making fantasy stays feasible.

Revenue-based redemptions treat accumulating points like punching a card, with customers receiving a direct return on their hotel or card spending. And who would accept collecting two points for every $1 spent on a Marriott co-brand when each point is only worth $0.006? In today’s market, that’s a 1.2 percent rebate card, which is scarcely competitive.

According to David Flueck, this isn’t a move that members should “enjoy more or less,” but rather “more sensible pricing helps everyone.” “More logical pricing will offer more amazing values for our members,” he adds.

His counterpoint to how I’m thinking about this is that there are instances when a category 7 hotel has a cheaper price than the room rates category 6 hotels charge, and the present Bonvoy redemption methodology doesn’t account for that. When hotels are inexpensive, members may expect to pay less points. That might have come in handy during the epidemic, when Bonvoy was charging peak season rates even when the hotels were vacant.

In the future, Flueck said that in-hotel experiences were difficult “during the epidemic,” but that Marriott is “working hard with our properties to improve there,” and that the company has “hired over 30,000 additional colleagues in our [managed hotel] properties this year.” Longer term, we’ll “work with hotels to regularly provide rewards earned” and “invest in the Ambassador program especially moving into 2022, to enhance the overall experience of our top members,” according to the company.

More From the Wing’s Perspective

Marriott has announced changes to their award chart, which include dropping the award chart and adding a new category for free nights. The “marriott premier free night award category” is an extension of Marriott’s status program that offers guests one free night during each stay.

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