Loyalty Traveler writes that Marriott Rewards has eliminated its “all inclusive” rewards. With no notice, whatsoever. The option was simply pulled, and they acknowledged it through social media channels after the fact.
All-inclusive rewards providing food and beverage and kids activities at seven Marriott Resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean have been discontinued effective October 17, 2011 with no advance notice to members.
Inclusive rewards were 70,000 points for five nights or 90,000 points for seven nights at select all-inclusive resorts and covered meals, beverages including alcohol and some activities for two adults and children under 12. The all-inclusive reward option was on top of the regular hotel reward cost..
Regular readers on this blog know my feelings about no-notice and short-notice program changes.
Customers fly, stay, and earn points in loyalty programs with goals in mind, they’re offered a value proposition and they do what the program asks, it’s not fair to pull the rug out from under them as they’ve been keeping up their end of the bargain. Changes which remove benefits or awards or increase the price of awards should have substantial notice, or else they’re basically a bait-and-switch
Textbook examples of how to do this right are all around us. We had a full year’s notice of American Express’ relationship with Continental terminating. And that was fully expected, since United’s relationship with Chase Bank is so tight. American AAdvantage gave over 3 months’ notice of changes to how they would count miles towards million miler status. And this was an unpublished program, even. And we had been getting hints that change was coming for over a year.
Pulling award options with no notice at all puts Marriott Rewards in the category of Amtrak Guest Rewards. When Amtrak ended points transfers to United Mileage Plus with no notice, they explained that since only a small portion of their members used this option they didn’t feel it was important to tell anyone they were making the change. They also capped the number of points that members could transfer out of an account with no notice at all. So some members who had transferred tons of points into Amtrak Guest Rewards found their large balances trapped. Later that same year they devalued their award chart and gave all of three weeks’ notice. Of course, they’ve also made changes to their redemption prices with no notice at all. In fact, they even attempted to make some changes retroactive although they backed off on that.
Amtrak Guest Rewards is one of the programs that I trust the least, and this is the major reason that I won’t let balances accrue in that program. Seeing Marriott Rewards go down that same path is disturbing. Their all-inclusive rewards weren’t my personal cup of tea, but they were a great value for those families that really took advantage of them to get not just flights and hotel nights free but to manage the total cost of their beach vacations.
Fortunately for those interested in redeeming points for something close to all-inclusive, Hyatt Gold Passport offers ‘Passport Escapes’ awards which include daily breakfast and on-property dinners for most nights — 3 dinners on a 5-night stay, or 5 dinners on a 7-night stay.
This is a great deal for regular members and for Platinum members who don’t otherwise get free breakfast anyway. And it’s a great deal at the priciest properties, a 35,000 point increment at the Park Hyatt Vendome would yield 5 breakfasts and 3 dinners for 2 people, an incredible value.. And the awards can be booked at any Hyatt property except Hyatt Place or Summerfield Suites.