Even though they are no longer Marriott’s best points redemption option, it appears likely that Travel Packages are going to disappear this week (as first reported by Gary Leff).
This shouldn’t concern too many InsideFlyer readers. Marriott Travel Packages only provide excess value when:
- You need exactly 7 hotel nights at peak pricing (otherwise a 5 or 10 night award stay – with the fifth night free – will provide maximum value)
- You need some high value miles that you cannot obtain from other sources, such as credit card sign-up bonuses or point conversions
Why are Marriott Travel Packages Going Away?
Assuming that the rumours are true, Marriott Travel Packages require Award Categories in order to work properly. However, Marriott Bonvoy has already announced a move to fully dynamic award pricing (click here for the full details). The move will take place in stages:
- Stage 1 – award charts will remain in place until March 2022
- Stage 2 – for the remainder of 2022, award pricing will fluctuate between existing off-peak and peak award prices (at 97% of Marriott’s properties – the remaining 3% will be free to price at much higher levels)
- Stage 3 – for 2023 and beyond, there will be no limit on award pricing
When you redeem your Marriott points for a Travel Package, you receive a hotel award certificate valid for one year. So, if Marriott Bonvoy wants to get rid of award categories in 2023, it needs to end Travel Packages NOW – otherwise people will retain unused category-based award certificates valid well into 2023. Given Marriott’s IT woes, the combination of legacy award categories and fully dynamic award pricing wouldn’t work well…
What About Direct Points –> Miles Conversions?
Even though I won’t really shed a tear for the demise of Marriott Travel Packages, I am somewhat more concerned about the future of points –> miles conversions.
As a reminder, Marriott points convert on a 3:1 basis into airline miles. (with dozens of different airline options) If you convert exactly 60,000 points, you will receive an added bonus of 5,000 miles.
If that sounds complicated, just think – 60,000 Marriott points –> 25,000 miles.
Why am I worried?
Dynamic award pricing is likely to become a significant devaluation in the value of our Marriott points. As a result, converting Marriott points into airline miles might just end up being the best possible use of Marriott points.
You should be under no illusion, however… if Marriott starts haemorrhaging cash due to members converting points into airline miles (instead of redeeming points on hotel stays), it will devalue the conversion ratio with little to no notice.
Yet rushing to the exit might also be wrong
Even if you decide to rush into converting your Marriott points into airline miles, you have to decide… WHICH AIRLINE? For some readers, the answer is quite simple. But flexibility is a huge part of the value proposition.
I don’t have to convert Marriott points into airline miles… until I KNOW which miles I need!
Maintaining a healthy balance of a “transferable” currency such as Marriott points means that I am relatively safe from airline award chart devaluations or mileage expiry policies. If I need some more Alaska miles for an imminent award booking –> I convert some Marriott points. Or if I need some Turkish miles, or AAdvantage miles, or ANA miles, etc. etc. I convert some Marriott points.
But if I get scared and convert my Marriott points today, I lose all of that optionality. I won’t ever be able to convert Alaska miles back into Turkish miles for example.
If you are interested in a Marriott Travel Package, you’d better book one today. If you think that the disappearance of Travel Packages is a bad omen for points –> miles conversions, you’ll also want to put a lot of thought into converting some points into miles while the ratio is still attractive…