Millions of members worldwide will benefit when the world’s largest hotel guest program, Marriott Rewards, implements a set of program changes on June 2. Key to these changes are the benefits that elite members will now enjoy system-wide. As with many of the larger hotel chains, Marriott has, in the past, experienced some difficulty delivering consistent benefits throughout its thousands of properties. Now, Marriott’s Silver, Gold and Platinum members will gain from two distinct changes: Elite-Only awards and elite bonus points at all brands.
Through the Elite-Only awards program, elite Rewards members will enjoy a special point reduction on many awards, as well as the opportunity to enjoy a host of exclusive awards that won’t be available to any other members. We do know, for example, that there will be a reduced number of points required for the ‘Hawaiian Island Hopper’ award, which allows members to divide seven free nights in Hawaii among any three Marriott hotels on the islands. We applaud this move by Rewards and look forward to seeing a complete menu of these awards in the months ahead.
Elite members will also benefit from earning elite bonuses (20/25/30 percent, depending on level of elite) at all Marriott brands including the popular Courtyard and Fairfield Inn properties. As you certainly know if you’re an elite Rewards member, elite bonuses were previously only available at Marriott, Renaissance and Marriott Vacation Club properties.
One change has caught us off guard. Marriott Rewards is lowering the entry-level for its Silver-level elite to just 10 nights a calendar year, down from the 15 nights currently required. This may mean that some of you have already achieved Silver elite and don’t know it. Given that Marriott has uniquely offered up the Silver-elite level as a bonus on some of its promotions in 2002, it does seem to level things out.
While on the topic of elite, Marriott will also guarantee a room at any Marriott hotel worldwide when Platinum members make a reservation just 48 hours before arrival. Again, moving benefits from full-service Marriott’s to the entire brand of hotels. And lest we forget, the Platinum Welcome Gift will also be there at any Marriott brand hotel as well.
And Marriott’s whirlwind of changes isn’t limited to elite members. Also starting June 2, all members will be able to call Rewards’ customer service, or visit the Marriott Rewards Web site and order a next day electronic award. That’s right, no more paper certificates are required.
Rita Cuddihy, the new senior vice president of Marketing for Marriott, reminds us that, “Our members will receive their elite bonus points at more than triple the previous number of hotels, and they can redeem free hotel stays within a day’s notice.” That pretty well sums it up.
Maybe those who claim programs just aren’t what they used to be are right — Marriott is proving that some are getting even better.