While completing research on the Marriott Rewards program, we were mildly amused by the recent buzz set off about an “informed” post in the Marriott Rewards Insiders website that indicated soon-to-happen downgrades in this popular hotel loyalty program.
We recently met with Marriott executives, so we triangulated that with our latest research findings, and then contrasted that with some forward looking information we heard during Marriott’s recent sponsorship of the popular StarMegaDO, and came up with a conclusion. Something is not right in the information that is currently being passed around—in fact, nothing is right in the information that is being passed around about upcoming Marriott Rewards changes and we’ll correct the “informed”.
The post reads:
[box] I recently spoke with someone who works at Marriott and he said there may be radical changes coming to MR that will be announced later this Spring and take effect in 2015. The changes being discussed include:
• The points required for award stays will be increased by at least 5,000 points per night across all levels and the 5th night free will disappear. Category 10 will be added and require 60,000 points per night (read mass devaluation),
• a new level will be announced above Platinum and the requirements will be formally revealed. (i.e. everyone will know how to achieve PP, if that is what it is called)
• New benefits for Gold, Plat, and the new PP will be announced. These will include things like confirmed suite upgrades (for the new PP), instant upgrades using online check-in, free breakfast (including resorts for the new PP ), free parking, and free “lifestyle events,” at the hotels during your stay,
• The offerings in the concierge lounges in NA will be enhanced and will include free beer, wine and spirits where local laws permit.
• However, Concierge lounge access will be eliminated for Golds and Plats unless upgraded to the concierge level rooms. (Gold and Plats will continue to receive free continental breakfast in the restaurant or points.)
• MR is looking at different models for awarding elite status including annual hotel spend, instead of nights stayed (similar to Delta’s and United FF requirements for elite status). Spend in bars and restaurants will be included. Deeply discounted rates, such as Government Rates, group and convention rates, and special promotion rates will not count towards the spend requirement.
Not sure how much of the above will actually come to fruition and how much was simply speculation. Keep in mind, as baby boomers ride off into the sunset and decrease their business travel, MI and MR have to cater the program to the new breed of business travelers (read Millennials), that will make up the core group of business travelers for the next couple of decades.[/box]
Marriott Rewards will be announcing their award category changes, a yearly event, next week with a few hotels moving up or down and they are NOT adding another award category. Our guess is that more hotels will move categories than in a typical year, but not as many as last year.
As for the new elite status level? There’s already an elite tier above Platinum called Platinum Premier that has been in place for quite a long time. The requirements are not published and the members get a different level of customer service to reflect their status. There will be NO new tier status announced in 2014.
According to Bob Behrens, Vice President, Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, “There’s no truth to the rumors and not sure where some of the original posters get their information.”
We cross checked that to a statement earlier from Michelle Lapierre, Senior Director, Customer Experience & Social Media for Marriott Rewards who told us, “There is nothing hidden in these words—we have no devaluation of Elite benefits in the discussion, planning or execution phase. No ‘later this spring’ announcement of any kind planned.”
– No mass devaluations (other than traditional/annual hotels changing categories being announced next week)
– No new status level
– No new benefits for Gold and Platinum members (this one we actually were hoping to not have to “mythbust”)
– No changes to Concierge lounge offerings
– No changes to Concierge lounge access
– No change to elite qualification a la “the Delta model”
OUR TAKE: Chicken Little was wrong. These rumors? BUSTED.