Oct222008

Marriott Rewards Analysis of Jan 15, 2009 Program Changes

Marriott Rewards Analysis of January 15, 2009 Program Changes

The news of the 2009 Marriott Rewards changes yesterday has been dissected and lamented over a 130-post thread on FlyerTalk in the past 36 hours as I write this piece.  Interestingly, the discussion on something that will impact millions of Marriott visitors over the next few years gets far less comment than a LHW $19.28 room that 6,000 people might luxuriate in over the next few weeks.

Loyalty Traveler has read over FlyerTalk posters’ issues and the responses by the Marriott Hotels corporate representative who posts on FlyerTalk as “Marriott Concierge”.

I will attempt a concise guide to Marriott Rewards changes for 2009 since many of the questions addressed in the FlyerTalk thread are repeated by members who have not followed all the entries on the thread.

To recap 2009 Changes as posted on Marriott’s website:

“Starting January 15, 2009, Marriott Rewards will introduce four changes to the program.

 

No Blackout Dates

Blackout Dates have been eliminated at nearly 2,900 Marriott hotels worldwide.

 

Redeem for 4 Nights and Get the 5th Night Free Rewards

Use Marriott Rewards points to stay at Marriott hotels for 4 nights and get the 5th redemption night free.

 

50% Platinum Elite Bonus

Platinum Elite members who choose to earn points will now earn a 50% bonus on base points earned during stays at Marriott hotels, versus the 30% bonus Platinum members earn today.

 

New Award Schedule

The new award schedule has been restructured to let you stay when and where you want to stay regardless of the time of year.”

 

Loyalty Traveler analysis of No Blackout Dates:

                Marriott states “starting on January 15, 2009 hotels will have standard rooms available for redemption every day.”  Another sentence states, “ Hotels may limit the number of standard rooms available for redemption on a limited number of days.”

                8 Hotel Properties are not participating No Blackouts:

·         Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora, Rome, Italy

·         Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, Waikoloa, Hawaii, Hawaii

·         Wailea Beach Resort  and Spa, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

·         Camelback Inn, JW Marriott Resort and Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona

·         JW Marriott Capri Tiberio Palace Resort & Spa, Capri, Italy

·         Aspen Wye River Conference Center, Queenstown, Maryland

·         NCED Marriott Conference Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

·         Jesse H. Jones Rotary House Conference Center, Houston, Texas

                Marriott Concierge stated on FlyerTalk that hotels will need to request and receive corporate approval for limiting standard room availability.  While there may be a range of days among the 2,900 Marriott-family hotels, the number will be roughly 11 days per year.

                I would assume nights like New Year’s Eve in urban center hotels, Caribbean resorts during Easter week, and Monterey during the Monterey Jazz Festival are the kinds of extraordinary demand days that will tend to limit standard room availability.  A place like Monterey, California has high attendance festivals and races throughout the year and I imagine the Monterey Marriott will be one of those hotels that exceeds the 11 night estimate for corporate approval to limit standard room availability for reward nights using hotel points.

                The good news with the no blackout policy is the elimination of Stay Anytime awards which currently require double the points per night.  The no blackout dates will save some travelers points who will not need to pay double the points when a Stay Anytime award was the only option.

                Another concern is the inability to know how many standard rooms a particular hotel has available for a room using points.  Why not just use a counter to indicate the number of standard rooms available for a given night when someone tries to book the hotel using points? 

When I look at airline ticket booking and see “1 Seat Remaining at this Price”, I feel incentive to book.  Wouldn’t that be a great tool when planning your hotel stay points redemption?

 

5th Night Free Reward and New Award Schedule

                All one-night stays for any category 1 to 7 hotel will remain unchanged.

1.       Points needed for a multi-night stay are based on the points required for 1 night at the Marriott Rewards hotel category level.  The only points reduction is for stays of 5 nights or longer.  Every 5th night will be free.

2.       Stay Anytime Rewards are eliminated.

3.       PointSaver Awards are still scheduled for participating hotels based on the new award chart points levels.

4.       A new Category 8 hotel reward level will be introduced in 2009 changes.

The current Marriott Rewards standard redemption chart is a 7×7 table for Category 1 to 7 hotels for stays of 1 to 7 nights.  There are 49 point redemption options depending on hotel category and length of stay.

                The new 2009 Marriott Hotel Rewards table results in 3 of the 49 options decreasing in points cost, and all due to the 5th night free reward:

·         Category 2 hotel for 5 nights will decrease in 2009 from 43,000 to 40,000 points.

·         Category 3 hotel for 5 nights will decrease in 2009 from 63,000 to 60,000 points.

·         Category 4 hotel for 5 nights will decrease in 2009 from 85,000 to 80,000 points.

 

The current Hotel Rewards sliding scale where multi-night stays cost fewer points per night is eliminated and in its place is the 5th Night Free Reward.  The result is an increase in the number of points required for 75% of current hotel redemption options with redemptions from 4 nights to 7 nights at hotels in category 4 or higher increasing, on average, 25% to 60% in 2009.


 

New 2009 Rewards Redemption Comparison Chart to 2008 Rewards Redemption Level

Category

NIGHTS

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1

7,500

7,500

14,000

15,000

20,000

22,500

25,000

30,000

30,000

30,000

35,000

37,500

40,000

45,000

2

10,000

10,000

19,000

20,000

27,000

30,000

35,000

40,000

43,000

40,000

50,000

50,000

55,000

60,000

3

15,000

15,000

28,000

30,000

41,000

45,000

52,000

60,000

63,000

60,000

73,000

75,000

82,000

90,000

4

20,000

20,000

38,000

40,000

55,000

60,000

70,000

80,000

85,000

80,000

95,000

100,000

105,000

120,000

5

25,000

25,000

46,000

50,000

65,000

75,000

80,000

100,000

95,000

100,000

105,000

125,000

115,000

150,000

6

30,000

30,000

55,000

60,000

78,000

90,000

95,000

120,000

110,000

120,000

120,000

150,000

130,000

180,000

7

35,000

35,000

65,000

70,000

90,000

105,000

110,000

140,000

130,000

140,000

140,000

175,000

150,000

210,000

8

na

40,000

na

80,000

na

120,000

na

160,000

na

160,000

na

200,000

na

240,000

Numbers in this color are 2008 redemption level. 

Dark Numbers are the new 2009 redemption levels.  

 

2009 Hotel Rewards Changes Shown in Percentages

Category

NIGHTS

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1

0%

7.1%

12.5%

20.0%

0%

7.1%

12.5%

2

0%

5.3%

11.1%

14.3%

– 7.0% lower

0%

9.1%

3

0%

7.1%

9.8%

15.4%

– 4.8% lower

2.7%

9.8%

4

0%

5.3%

9.1%

14.3%

– 5.9% lower

5.3%

14.3%

5

0%

8.7%

15.4%

25.0%

5.3%

19.0%

30.4%

6

0%

9.1%

15.4%

26.3%

9.1%

25.0%

38.5%

7

0%

7.7%

16.7%

27.3%

7.7%

25.0%

40.0%

8

14.3%

23.1%

33.3%

45.5%

23.1%

42.9%

60.0%

 

The addition of a Category 8 level will see the highest increase in points for awards. 

The following hotels will move from Category 7 to the new Category 8 on January 15, 2009:

  • Paris Marriott Hotel Champs Elysees
  • Renaissance Paris Vendome
  • JW Marriott Capri Tiberio Palace Resort & Spa
  • Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora
  • London Marriott Hotel County Hall
  • London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
  • London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch
  • London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
  • Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
  • Renaissance Chancery Court London
  • New York Marriott East Side
  • New York Marriott Marquis
  • Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
  • South Beach Marriott Hotel

 

 Platinum Elite Bonus increased to 50%

                Marriott has been behind the other hotel loyalty programs in rewarding its top elite members with elite bonus points despite having the highest elite qualification standard of 75 hotel nights for Marriott Rewards Platinum membership.

Hilton HHonors Diamond,

28 stays or 60 nights,

50% bonus

 

Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond,

25 stays or 50 nights,

30% bonus

 

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club

Platinum elite at 50 nights or 60,000 points,

50% bonus

 

Marriott Rewards Platinum at 75 nights

30% bonus increasing to 50% in 2009

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum

25 stays or 50 nights

50% bonus (even for Gold members at 10 stays or 16 nights)

 

Marriott Rewards is rewarding its elite members with an increase of elite bonus points from 30% to 50%.  The high threshold of 75 nights per calendar year makes me assume Platinum members will be the group most affected by the changes in hotel rewards redemption increases since these are the Marriott Rewards members most likely to have 200,000 points for spending on a multi-night stay at a high-category hotel. 

Assume $200 per night spent for 80 hotel nights by a Marriott Rewards Platinum elite member in 2009.  $16,000 in hotel spending will earn 240,000 points in 2009 with the 50% platinum bonus, in addition to hotel promotion bonuses and other point earning opportunities.  For this argument I will only look at base points and a comparison of the 2008 30% elite bonus to the 2009 50% elite bonus.

2008 = 80 hotel nights @ $200 per night. 

Base points = $16,000 x 10 points/$1 = 160,000 points.

2008 platinum elite 30% bonus = 160,000 x .30 = 48,000 points.

Total 2008 points = 208,000 points for $16,000 in hotel spending.

 

 2009 = 80 hotel nights @ $200 per night. 

Base points = $16,000 x 10 points/$1 = 160,000 points.

2009 platinum elite 50% bonus = 160,000 x .50 = 80,000 points.

Total 2009 points = 240,000 points for $16,000 in hotel spending.

The Platinum member receives an additional 32,000 points after $16,000 of hotel spending in 2009.

A 7-night stay at a Category 5 hotel will cost 35,000 more points in 2009.

A 7-night stay at a Category 6 hotel will cost 50,000 more points in 2009.

A 7-night stay at a Category 7 hotel will cost 60,000 more points in 2009.

A 7-night stay at a Category 7 hotel than has moved to the Category 8 level will cost 90,000 more points in 2009.

Inflation makes what we worked for today worth less tomorrow.

 

Related link:  Just 3 weeks ago I wrote a post about how Marriott Rewards Hotel Redemption Chart was its competitive advantage over the other hotel programs.  I guess Marriott Rewards did not see this beneficial consumer attribute to the Marriott Rewards program worthy of maintaining for its members.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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  1. fwiw, before the recent “enhancements” announcement I checked the availability of a 6 night award stay next April at the Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora.

    At that time, there was a “Stay Anytime” award available for 280,000 points.

    Now, there are no award stays available for April 22-28.2009.

    I then checked the “Flexible Stay Award Finder” and still no awards were available for a 6 night stay in April, 2009.

    so much for “No Blackouts”, eh?

    btw, thanks so much for your blog!

  2. Rome will be a more difficult luxury hotel stay on the cheap in 2009 if planning to use points. Hilton Cavalieri just rebranded to a Waldorf=Astoria hotel and nightly rate using points increases to 60,000 for 2009.

    Unfortunately, Marriott let 8 hotels opt out of “no blackouts” and Rome Grand Hotel Flora is one of those eight hotels.

    Tim Winship wrote a piece on SmarterTravel.com stating Hilton HHonors “No Blackout” policy with no capacity controls for standard rooms is truly a no blackout policy whereas Marriott’s is a marketing slogan. Marriott hotels can opt out (Rome Grand Flora) and hotels can have days with capacity controls.

    http://www.smartertravel.com/up-front-with-tim-winship/marriott-will-shed-blackouts-but-not-limits-on-award-availability.html?id=2755346

  3. Thanks for the info.

    Guess I must’ve missed that enhancement respecting the new Cat 8 properties.

    Oh well back to the hunt….

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