Posted by Ric Garrido

Marriott Rewards announced major hotel category reassignments and a new category 9 level effective May 16, 2013. The changes are severe.

The addition of a category 9 hotel award category is not that big a deal for 2013. There are only 13 hotels moving up from category 8. The bigger devaluation is the loss of category 4 hotels and a general shift to higher hotel award categories.

370 of the 725 Marriott Rewards category 4 hotels currently listed are being reassigned and moving up to category 5. This is a loss of 50% of the hotels in category 4 currently available for Marriott’s MegaBonus promotion free night certificate redemption limited to category 1 to 4 hotels.

Here are my estimates of the number of hotels in each category with the May 16, 2013 changes:

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This post is data collection. I will analyze the award category changes in depth and discuss hotel hot spots and low spots for Marriott award stays across the different categories. Particular attention will be given to the hotels in category 4 as of May 16, 2013 and the ones leaving for category 5.

Ritz-Carlton Hotels reassigned to different award tiers will be covered in a separate post. Ritz-Carlton Tier Changes May 16, 2013 mostly impact USA hotels (Feb 14, 2013).

I will also follow up with a comparison to HHonors awards, Marriott’s primary competitor, to see if the grass is greener on the Double Dip points and miles side of the loyalty cards after Marriott’s changes.

Here is the official post on Marriott Rewards Insiders regarding the 2013 hotel category changes:

Greetings Insiders,

We have a sneak peek at the new hotel categories for 2013 – on 16 May 2013, Marriott Rewards® will be implementing changes to which hotels are in which category as part of our annual review. Additionally, there will be a new Category 9, requiring 45,000 points per night for a free night stay.

Available to Insiders is a full list of hotel category changes for 2013(categories 1-9) where you’ll find each hotel listed and their new category. This is a true leak to our Insiders community – so you’re aware of the changes and have time to take advantage of the 2012 hotel categories before they change.

Book now for the best value

  • All redemption reservations booked on or before May 15th for stays after May 16th will be honored at the point price booked. If you have not ordered your certificate prior to May 15th, call Guest Servicesto request the lower priced certificate before your stay
  • As always, you may book redemption reservations up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required points in your account. For example, on May 1, 2013 you may book your redemption stay as far out as April 16, 2014
  • You can also use Cash + Points, our newest booking tool, to book your redemption stay

Learn more about the category changes including a complete list of FAQs »

Andy & the Marriott Rewards team

Here are a few FAQ’s

What is a hotel category?

Hotel categories determine the number of Marriott Rewards points necessary to redeem for a free night. For instance, a Category 1 hotel requires 7,500 points per redemption night while a Category 4 hotel requires 20,000 points per redemption night.

image

What’s changing?

The changes are effective for all redemption reservations booked after May 16, 2013. In addition, Marriott Rewards is adding a Category 9 to the award schedule which will require 45,000 points per night. The points required for Categories 1 to 8 will not be changing.

Will there be PointSaver Awards for the new category 9?

Yes, just like every category, PointSaver awards will be available for Category 9 hotels, and will be offered at 40,000 points. For more information on PointSavers, click here.

Will there be travel packages available for new category 9?

Yes, 7-night-stay plus airline miles will be offered for Category 9 hotels.

How many hotels are affected?

73% of the programs properties will remain in Categories 1-4.

63% of the properties remain unchanged.

1% of the properties will decrease by one or more categories.

36% of the properties will increase by one or more categories.

 

Loyalty Traveler analysis:

Marriott Hotel Award Category May 16, 2013 Reassignment Overview:

Currently Marriott Rewards hotel categories look like this:

3,676 hotels are on Marriott Rewards hotel category list on February 13, 2013.

  • Category 1 = 233 hotels (230 USA, 3 international)
  • Category 2 = 823 hotels (726 USA, 97 international)
  • Category 3 = 1,236 hotels (1,090 USA, 146 international)
  • Category 4 = 725 hotels (631 USA, 94 international)
  • Category 5 = 344 hotels (249 USA, 95 international)
  • Category 6 = 204 hotels (127 USA, 77 international)
  • Category 7 = 88 hotels (63 USA, 25 international)
  • Category 8 = 23 hotels (8 USA, 15 international)

There are currently 3,017 hotels in Category 1 to 4 award assignments. This is 82% of the hotels in the chain that are available using Marriott Rewards MegaBonus free night certificates valid at category 1 to 4 hotels. Marriott MegaBonus with its hotel category 1-4 free night certificate earned after every two stays is the primary promotion Marriott Rewards has offered for the past few years.

Marriott Rewards hotel award category distribution in February 2013(3,676 hotels)

    • Category 1 = 233 hotels; 6.3%,
    • Category 2 = 823 hotels; 22.4%,
    • Category 3 = 1,236 hotels; 33.6%,
    • Category 4 = 725 hotels; 19.7%,
    • Category 5 = 344 hotels; 9.4%,
    • Category 6 = 204 hotels; 5.6%,
    • Category 7 = 88 hotels; 2.4%,
    • Category 8 = 23 hotels; 0.6%,
    • 3,676 hotels = 100%

 

Factoid: 2,677 category 1 to 4 hotels are located in the USA. This is about 89% of all the category 1 to 4 hotels worldwide.

 

Marriott Rewards May 16, 2013 Hotel Category changes

Category 1 = 7,500 points

  • Category 1 = 195 hotels (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 1 = 233 hotels (Feb 2013)
  • Net loss of 38 hotels (-16%).
  • 43 hotels leave category 1 for category 2.
  • 5 hotels enter category 1 from category 2.

Category 2 = 10,000 points

  • Category 2 = 695 hotels  (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 2 = 823 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net loss of 128 hotels (-16%).
  • 184 hotels leave category 2 for category 3.
  • 5 hotels leave category 2 for category 1.
  • 43 hotels enter category 2 from category 1.
  • 18 hotels enter category 2 from category 3.

Category 3 = 15,000 points

  • Category 3 = 1,013 hotels  (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 3 = 1,236 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net loss of 223 hotels (-18%).
  • 401 hotels leave category 3 for category 4.
  • 18 hotels leave category 3 for category 2.
  • 184 hotels enter category 3 from category 2.
  • 12 hotels enter category 3 from category 4.

Category 4 = 20,000 points.

  • Category 4 = 747 hotels (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 4 = 725 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net gain of 22 hotels (+3%).
  • 370 hotels leave category 4 for category 5.
  • 12 hotels leave category 4 for category 3.
  • 3 hotels enter category 4 from category 5.
  • 401 hotels enter category 4 from category 3.

Category 5 = 25,000 points

  • Category 5 = 523 hotels (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 5 = 344 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net gain of 179 hotels (52% more hotels in category 5).
  • 1 hotel leaves category 5 for category 7. (Barcelona Arts)
  • 190 hotels leave category-5 for category 6.
  • 3 hotels leave category 5 for category 4.
  • 2 hotels enter category-5 from category-6.
  • 370 hotels enter category 5 from category 4.

Category 6 = 30,000 points

  • Category 6 = 342 hotels (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 6 = 204 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net gain of 138 hotels (68% more hotels in category 6).
  • 55 hotels leave category-6 for category 7.
  • 2 hotels leave category 6 for category 5.
  • 5 hotels enter category-6 from category-7.
  • 190 hotels enter category 6 from category 5.

Category 7 = 35,000 points

  • Category 7 = 107 hotels (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 7 = 88 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net gain of 19 hotels (22% more hotels in category 7).
  • 32 hotels leave category-7 for category 8.
  • 5 hotels leave category 7 for category 6.
  • 0 hotels enter category-7 from category-8.
  • 55 hotels enter category 7 from category 6.
  • 1 hotel enters category 7 from category 5.

Category 8 = 40,000 points

  • Category 8 = 42 hotels (May 16, 2013 estimate).
  • Category 8 = 23 hotels (Feb 2013).
  • Net gain of 19 hotels (83% more hotels in category 8).
  • 13 hotels leave category-8 for new category 9.
  • 32 hotels enter category 8 from category 7.

Category 9 = 45,000 points 

13 hotels moving into new top category award.

  1. Boston Marriott Long Wharf
  2.   Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
  3. London Marriott Hotel County Hall
  4.   London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
  5.   London Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
  6.   London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
  7. St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
  8.   New York JW Marriott Essex House
  9.   New York Marriott Marquis
  10. Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
  11.   Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees
  12.   Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel
  13.   Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel

Marriott Rewards hotel award category distribution projected for May 16 2013 (3,676 hotels)

  • Category 1 = 195 hotels (5.3%)
  • Category 2 = 695 hotels (18.9%)
  • Category 3 = 1,013 hotels (27.5%)
  • Category 4 = 747 hotels (20.3%)
  • Category 5 = 523 hotels (14.2%)
  • Category 6 = 342 hotels (9.3%)
  • Category 7 = 107 hotels (2.9%)
  • Category 8 = 42 hotels (1.1%)
  • Category 9 = 13 hotels (0.3%)
  • 3,677 hotels (where did that extra hotel come from?)

The improvement in this year’s announcement of Marriott Rewards hotel reassignment is the decision to publish all the hotels changing hotel award category a full three months before the changes take effect. In 2010 and 2011 I carried out my own social media campaign to get Marriott Rewards to release the full list of changes. The announcements made those two years only released changes for categories 5-8.

Related posts on 2011 and 2012 Marriott Rewards hotel category reassignment:

Marriott Rewards hotel category changes March 8, 2011 (Feb 25, 2011)

Marriott posts complete list of hotel reward category changes for March 8 (March 2, 2011)

Marriott Rewards Hotel Category Changes March 15, 2012 (Feb 27, 2012)

Marriott Rewards Category 5-8 Hotels Moving Up on March 15, 2012 (132 hotels) (Feb 27, 2012)

Marriott Rewards 2012 Hotel Category Drops by Location (Feb 27, 2012) – last year I complained about the Marriott Rewards hotel reassignment list not being ordered by geographical location. The 2013 list is hard to read too since hotels are listed by brand and category with no city, state or country identification for the 1,300+ hotels.

Here is the opening paragraph of my March 2013 Inside Flyer column I wrote two weeks ago:

Hotel Rates Rise, Point Values Fall

Your hotel award stays are likely to require more points in 2013. This year has already seen bullish changes for hotel category reassignment from IHG Priority Club and Wyndham Rewards. Starwood Preferred Guest increased the points for Cash & Points awards globally by 25%. Annual hotel award category reassignments from Marriott, SPG, Carlson and Hilton may bring more award shock in 2013.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

14 Responses

  1. What’s especially annoying is that many of us just started working on the latest Megabonus because we planned a future stay in a Cat 4 hotel that will instead be a Cat 5. It’s no accident that more than half of the Cat 4s are moving up, making the Megabonus almost worthless for those staying in higher priced areas.

  2. I am (was) a loyal Platinum MR member. I will be moving over to Hilton after this announcement. As for my needs and preferences, I feel I was just carpet bombed.

  3. Category reassignments? Let’s call this for what it really is: a major point/program devaluation!

    As always, thank you for great analysis.

  4. Between this and Priority Club devaluation, I’ve decided to spend all my points and focus more on alternative accommodations. Seems like hotels loyalty programs get devalued at a much quicker pace than airline reward programs.

  5. Marriott should soften the blow by letting cat 1-4 and 1-5 certs be used on any higher category if you pay the point difference (e.g. 10K points + 1-4 cert for a free night at a cat 6).

  6. […] Marriott May 16, 2013 hotel category reassignment: An Overview […]

  7. @Kay – I think hotel programs are far more stable than frequent flyer programs. The dramatic changes happening in 2013 are in part due to the huge incentives given through hotel loyalty programs since 2009.

    Free night promotions were rare prior to 2009. Hyatt Gold Passport was the most frequent free night promotion and they dumped their free night offers after the credit card took off.

    If you got into hotel loyalty programs only since 2009, then the changes look really bad this year. Well, actually they are really bad. But in the context of the past decade the changes are to be expected.

    All the points being earned globally through partner activity results in hotel awards rising. Too many points creates inflationary pressure.

    The cost of hotel awards is not that big a deal as long as there are promotional opportunities to earn loads of points through hotel stays.

    When hotel loyalty programs raise the cost of awards and reduce the ability to earn points through hotel stay bonuses, the alternative lodging options become a way to save cash and an incentive to drop hotel loyalty.

    For now I am sticking with the hotel chains until I find they are not the best value for my stays.

    @Paul – Great solution for category certificates is to allow buy up using points. Paying the difference in points provides incentive to earn Marriott Rewards points in addition to only earning free nights from MegaBonus stays.

  8. I have said it before on other posts…as what Paul said….they give you the option of a free cert you can turn into pts….ideally 20,000 but I’d be happy with 15,000. The way it is now with the category changes leaves virtually nothing in locations you would vacation or cities you would leisurely travel to.

    The other option is to switch the categories based on season or day of the week. For example their is a Fairfield in steamboat springs …I see it as a cat 5 during ski season to prevent so many free cents being thrown on it. Instead have it be a cat 5 in ski season but a cat 3 in summer…..along with that it could be a cat 5 thur-sat but a cat 4 other nights….same in summer…cat 3 except on summer weekends fri and sat night where it’s a cat 4.

    Another example is someplace like albuquerque where during balloon fest the hotels can be cat 5s. But revert to normal the rest of the year.

  9. Thanks very much for the analysis, Ric – very helpful !

  10. […] Marriott Rewards May 16, 2013 hotel category reassignment: An Overview (Feb 13, 2013). […]

  11. […] a new top tier category 9 and reassign many existing hotels to different categories.  According to Loyalty Traveler, of the current 344 category 5 hotels, more than half will increase to a higher category.  […]

  12. […] Marriott Rewards May 16, 2013 hotel category reassignment: An Overview (Feb 13). […]

  13. […] plan is to redeem the MegaBonus free night certificates  at Category 4 hotels before about 370 hotels in Marriott Rewards category 4 change to category 5 on May 16, 2013. That is almost 50% of the current Category 4 hotels changing to category 5 and becoming ineligible […]

  14. Nice analysis Ric! This news along with the recent AXON changes really makes me like Club Carlson more and more.

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