Regular readers know that I’m generally unimpressed with Marriott Rewards’ elite program. Their Platinum level is the most stringent top tier status to qualify for of any major hotel program requiring 75 nights in a year. And yet:
- Breakfast benefit only applies during the week (though some properties go above and beyond)
- Late checkout on request only, day of departure
- Suites are excluded from upgrades per terms and conditions
- Free health club access isn’t a top tier benefit
- Virtually no benefits on resort stays — late checkout (even based on availability) doesn’t apply, breakfast doesn’t even apply. And it’s those resort and leisure stays where I often care the most..
Several years ago Marriott added ‘excluding suites’ from the upgrade terms and conditions, the benefit once simply said best available room and there were often arguments over whether a suite was available and if so whether the top tier elite member was entitled to that room.
While Starwood and Hyatt and now even Hilton introduced the possibility of suite upgrades, Marriott went in the opposite direction by specifically excluding them.
Now it seems that Marriott has taken the exclusion even farther. Here’s the current upgrade language for Platinum elite members of Marriott Rewards:
For Platinum Elite members, the best way is up! So every time you check in, we’ll do our best to upgrade you – at no additional charge – to our best-available guest room in the next room category level. Suites are excluded. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club.
(Bolding is mine.)
The Gold level benefit, incidentally, is exactly the same:
For Gold Elite members, the best way is up! So every time you check in, we’ll do our best to upgrade you – at no additional charge – to our best-available guest room in the next room category level. Suites are excluded. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club.
What’s most interesting to me — aside from there being no differentiation at all in the terms of conditions of the program between upgrades for Gold and Platinum members — is the new language “in the next room category“.
Individual hotels will often go above and beyond the bare minimum required of them by the program. So this isn’t a post claiming that Marriott Platinums never see a suite, please don’t reply letting me know when you were treated well by a specific hotel or that properties in Asia are overall much more generous than in the U.S.
What’s striking here is what the program promises and requires of its hotels. And that appears now to be even less.
Whereas once the requirement was the best available non-suite room, the requirement now appears to be only a one-category room upgrade.
Plenty of properties only have a couple of non-suite room categories, but others have several, and Platinum (and Gold) elites no longer have a beef per the program’s terms and conditions if they aren’t upgraded to an otherwise-available room that’s more than one category above what they’ve booked though still less than a suite.
While it seems all the other major programs are moving in the direction of giving their elites a better experience, I’m continually surprised that Marriott doesn’t get nudged along and in fact finds ways to dial back their offerings — especially in terms of room upgrades, because a better room or even a suite that would otherwise go empty doesn’t actually cost a hotel anything. Confirmed upgrades might displace revenue by upgrades to an available room at checkin almost never will.
(HT: Reader Bill W.)