Marriott Rewards March 19, 2015 hotel category changes are bad news

Marriott Rewards March 19, 2015 hotel category changes affect a large number of properties, something like 1,400 hotels or 1 in 3 hotels worldwide.

There are 8.5 pages of hotels going down shown in the Marriott Rewards pdf. 43 hotels on each page. About 370 hotels dropping in category.

There are 25 pages of hotels going up in reward category. That is about 1,075 hotels. If Marriott follows the pattern of changes by Starwood, then most of the hotels rising should be in the USA with most hotels dropping in places like Europe, Canada and Asia where the US Dollar has gained significant value of about 20% on foreign currencies in 2014.

My look over the list does not reveal many hotels going down in Europe. I see hotel category drops for some hotels in Russia, Japan, China, India and Canada. Most of the hotels going down are located in the USA.

The problem is the tables of hotels are not organized geographically. I am not sure how Marriott came up with the list. Some hotels are ordered by state and some are ordered by city and some appear to have no ordering guideline at all.

Marriott 2015 category changes

This section from page 26 of 35 pages shows Virginia Beach hotels and then goes to California with Camarillo and Oxnard and Ventura. Ventura is the biggest place name for the area. Ventura should be listed before Virginia Beach if list is alphabetical by city. And then the list goes to Paris CDG and Boca Raton, Florida.

What is the guiding rule for the list order?

Bottom line is more than 25% of hotels worldwide are increasing in Marriott Rewards category in three weeks on March 19, 2015. Many of these changes will make category 4 and category 5 hotel certificates earned through MegaBonus and Marriott credit card anniversaries a far less useful reward night.

In fairness, Marriott Rewards offered a far higher proportion of hotels in low categories than competitor chains when comparing comparable market segment hotels in the same cities. Marriott has made a significant dent to eliminate that competitive advantage over the past three years as each year has seen a large shift upward from category 1-4 hotels into higher category reward nights.

Here are some old Loyalty Traveler articles to show the upward shift of Marriott Rewards hotels over the past five years.

Marriott vs. Hilton: Which chain has more favorable hotel category distribution for reward nights? (Nov 2, 2009)

Here is a table I created last year showing the distribution of Marriott brand hotels in each reward category from 2010 to 2014.

Loyalty Traveler – Need to burn Marriott MegaBonus category 5 free night in high category world (Oct 14, 2014)

Marriott Rewards 2010-2014 category changes

In 2010 there were about 3,365 hotels in Marriott Rewards with only 184 properties in categories 6-8.

In 2014 there were about 4,047 hotels in Marriott Rewards and more than 750 hotels in categories 6 to 9.

In a quick survey of the March 19 changes I counted over 200 hotels rising to category 7. There are currently 274 hotels worldwide in Marriott Rewards category 7. That changes to nearly 500 hotels in category 7 in three weeks. That is a 75% increase in the number of hotels in Marriott Rewards category 7.

Marriott category 7 274 hotels 2-26-15

Bottom line is these changes are very bad news for Marriott Rewards members. Marriott Rewards points have devalued significantly.

I’ll develop more comprehensive analyses of changes in the next couple of weeks. Marriott Rewards members should look to burn points before the changes on March 19, 2015.


Marriott Rewards Insiders: First look at 2015 hotel category changes – Book before March 19, 2015 using the current hotel categories

FlyerTalk: Marriott new category changes 2015

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.

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  1. Always hate this time of year. I’ve been a Marriott loyalist for over a decade (in part because they’ve consistently had hotels where I happen to need to go), but I’m very glad I’ve diversified into other hotel programs the past two years. This may really be the year the Marriott credit card gets ditched. I can’t find anywhere to redeem a that Cat 1-5 certificate any more.

    Await your careful and considered further analysis, as always!

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