[Loyalty Traveler note on this post at 2:30 PST, 8-26-08: The Marriott Rewards program enhancements information reported here was posted on the Marriott website this morning and was removed from the website about 90 minutes after I posted the changes on FlyerTalk.
A Marriott representative posted this statement on the FlyerTalk thread about two hours later.
“Earlier today, information about possible changes to the Marriott Rewards program was mistakenly published on Marriott.com.
Based upon your feedback regarding blackout dates and capacity controls, we are evaluating potential program enhancements. We have nothing to announce at this time. We’re sorry for any confusion this might have caused and we’ll be sure to provide advanced notice of any future changes.
[The paragraphs below are Loyalty Traveler’s original post on the enhancements.]
Marriott Rewards Program Enhancements Coming in 2009
Marriott Rewards has announced several hotel loyalty program changes to take effect January 15, 2009.
The big three changes:
1. No Blackout dates –you can redeem points for your hotel stay if a standard room is available. This will be a global system-wide benefit.
2. Redeem points for 3 nights and the 4th night will be free.
3. Platinum elite members (75 nights in a calendar year) will receive a 50% bonus on base points; an increase from the current 30% elite bonus.
These are welcome enhancements. I just hope the benefit of receiving a free fourth night on a 3 night hotel stay using points is not accompanied by an increase in the required points per night. Currently Marriott Rewards has a generous schedule for multi-night redemptions. Basically, the more nights a member redeems using points for an extended hotel stay the lower the per night cost in points.
For example: Redeeming Marriott Rewards points for a Category 5 hotel for 1 night costs 25,000 points.
A Category 5 stay for 3 nights costs 65,000 points (21,667 points per night).
Four nights at a Category 5 hotel costs 80,000 points (20,000 points per night).
Seven nights at a Category 5 hotel costs 115,000 points (16,429 points per night).
The per night cost in points decreases with a longer stay from 25,000 points for a 1-night stay down to 20,000 points per night for a 4-night stay, to under 16,429 points per night for a 7-night stay.
Hopefully Marriott Rewards will maintain the current redemption levels for hotels
The important factor for the member is whether the overall Marriott Rewards point redemption chart will remain relatively the same in 2009. Will the enhancements mean a 4-night stay at a Category 5 hotel will still be 65,000 points in 2009? Or will the 3-night stay at a Category 5 hotel cost more in 2009 and be closer to 80,000 points? In the hotel loyalty program industry the trend has been to raise the number of points for free room nights while simultaneously making room redemption easier.
Time and more details will tell if the program enhancements truly enhance the Marriott Rewards program for all members.