Marriott’s New Late Checkout Benefit is Bogus, Reinforces Member Fears in Starwood Takeover

When Marriott announced they were buying Starwood, the news was met with great consternation among Starwood’s frequent guests.

That’s because Marriott – the larger program – isn’t known for treating elites especially well despite having the toughest top tier to earn among the major programs (Platinum requires 75 nights).

Marriott is a reasonable earn and burn program, but those 75 night Platinums don’t get guaranteed suite upgrades even if suites are empty. They don’t get breakfast at resorts (or at Courtyards or at Ritz-Carltons). They don’t even get guaranteed late checkout.


Renaissance Boca Raton

So it was pretty exciting when Marriott announced this morning that they were rolling out new benefits similar to Starwood offerings:

  • Experiential redemptions like SPG Moments
  • A member concierge trial like Starwood Ambassador
  • Guaranteed late checkout for Golds and Platinums

Marriott’s CEO says loyalty becomes more important – rather than less important – for the chain going forward. These new benefits, without any simultaneous takeaways, seemed like a start. They still had a lot more work to do but it seemed like a good sign.

Unfortunately Marriott completely whiffed. They can’t even bring themselves to offer guaranteed late checkout, and they’ve oversold the benefit.


Marriott Boca Raton

Here’s the late check-out benefit now:

Priority Late Checkout
Call the front desk the morning of your check out, and let us know your planned departure time.

Late checkout is based on availability and offered at all participating Marriott hotels, except Marriott Vacation Club®.

It’s subject to availability on the day of departure. The hotel can say no to late checkout for a 75 night Platinum and they’re well within the terms.

Today’s announcement was:

The guaranteed late checkout benefit will be available to Gold and Platinum Elite members of both Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards who will enjoy a more seamless travel experience when planning their trip. These members will receive a guaranteed late checkout, which could be as late as 4pm.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt in this wording, assuming that “could be as late as 4pm” meant that the member would have the choice when to check out as late as 4pm. It turns out that’s not what it means at all.

While Marriott is talking about guaranteed late checkout and talking about 4pm the way that Starwood guarnatees to Golds and Platinums and Hyatt guarantees to their Diamonds (Platinums get 2pm), what Marriott is really doing is:

  • Guaranteeing late checkout of some time to be determined by the hotel
  • Late checkout won’t be later than 4pm but it may well be earlier.

Via One Mile at a Time, here’s how Marriott is clarifying:

It’s all based on availability on the check-out day. Gold and Platinum Elite members will receive a guaranteed late checkout and it could be as late as 4pm. Members can request the late checkout when making a reservation via phone, through the Marriott Mobile app via the mobile check-in process, or when checking in upon arrival at the hotel. This benefit is available at all fully participating Rewards hotels with the exclusion of resorts, convention hotels and Marriott Vacation Club.

It’s like when Marriott introduced cash and points awards that were really just combining paid rates and awards in a single reservation. It wasn’t really what’s meant by cash and points but they said they offered cash and points (Marriott now offers ‘real’ cash and points awards).

They are guaranteeing late checkout, they mention 4pm, but they aren’t guaranteeing 4pm late checkout. If a hotel offers a Platinum 1pm checkout that’s fully compliant with the benefit. Which means they’re still playing games with benefits instead of offering real benefits, the way that Starwood and Hyatt do.

If Marriott is looking to change that narrative, this isn’t the way to do it.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. +1 Joelfreak — I overheard an elite (I presume) in front of me in line at Westin Philadelphia very politely denied 4pm checkout because the benefit “is based on availability,” according to the front desk clerk.

  2. Let’s face it. Marriott is the Goliath to Starwoods David. Marriott couldn’t give a rats a$$ about SPG members. It’s such a small group vs members of the Marriott program.

    I’m sure a certain percentage of *wood members will become active members of the M program. I’m guessing others will head to Hyatt. InterContinental, or (gasp) Hilton.

  3. Great headline!

    @Jason
    Why do you presume they were elite?

    @joelfrank
    Did you escalate to a manager?

  4. The SPG Platinum being denied late check out at the non-resort property should have immediately called SPG.

  5. @joel… that was a rogue hotel/employee who was violating the T&C. i’ve never even had an SPG suggest any time earlier than 4pm. the Marriott ifake guarantee is literally zero change from current policy- complete BS and an offensive insult to the intelligence of Marriott and SPG elites.

  6. Booking through Amex FHR is the only way to guarantee 4PM check out. Usually what the hotels will do is to say they cannot offer late check out because the hotel is full BUT if you pay 1/2 day rate you can stay in the room until 4PM. I never liked Marriott and their terms confirm my fear that the days of frugality will come to SPG members.

  7. SPG P75 … I’ve had hotels *ask* me if I could not check out late because they were fully booked the following night. Loyalty is a two way street, and I generally oblige, unless I need the room until 4 in which case I apologize that I must insist on 4pm (and I make sure I’m out of there before 4:01pm). If they tried to kick me out of a room I truly needed, I’d insist on compensation that would make it worth it.

  8. So last month I went to the Marriott Tempe Buttes Resort and was denied late check-out request even though I was told by another Associate that they were at “only 69% occupancy” that night and only had TWO check-ins arriving that day. I’m Marriott Gold and the hotel could have denied the request by saying I could use the spa showers to change later or offer something if they were going to request my late check out request (even if it was just for an hour later). They were not only rude about the late check out (and failed in a few other service areas), they blatantly blew off my follow-up email to the GM, which gave them ample opportunity to rectify a situation before I posted on TripAdvisor. Their reply on TripAdvisor was a joke, as is their late check out offer. Or perhaps I just had a bad experience overall at the Tempe Buttes Resort?

  9. If it’s subject to availability and not really guaranteed, why bother to exclude convention hotels?

  10. The last thing I want to do on vacation is wake up before dawn to call the front desk and ask if I can have a late 4pm checkout. That’s stupid.

  11. As much as I appreciate and sometimes need to check out I’m still baffled by how it works at a hotel where the bulk of the guests are elites. How can all of us have 4 PM check out if the check in time is 3 PM? Isn’t the price we pay for his generous late checkout policy and increase in the number of times that we arrive only to be told that our room is not ready and will not be ready for a few hours? I have been denied late check out or sometimes had to negotiate hard to get late check out, which is annoying. At the same time I have also been forced to wait, sometimes for hours, to check in. For me having to wait to check in is far more annoying.

  12. When I read the terms the first time, it sounded like if I want the late check out be at 2, I’ll get it, if I want it at 3 I’ll get that too with as late as 4 pm… All guaranteed…
    Does that make sense or am I wrong here horribly.

  13. This is all great news of course. But I am writing to you from the JW Marriott Union Square in SF…where the threadbare furniture, warn and filthy carpet, and measly offering in the concierge lounge, where the liquor is kept in lock and key and special employee has to be summond to our you a drink (if thy are available) certainly do not inspire me to stick around until 4 pm. I find this more and more with Marriott. Keep the perqs. Just give me a clean and fresh hotel room that I am paying for. Maybe redecorate once every 30 years???

  14. If you think its bad now just wait till points roll over from SPG to MR 1.1
    Then they will brag that their points don’t expire 😉

  15. Ugh. Well, that’s why I’m loyal to Hyatt. The worst I’ve ever had was talked down to 2pm in Japan.

    Remaining loyal to programs that deserve loyalty is the only way to win and signal that other chains should be playing the game to earn and retain members.

  16. @Joelfreak said: “As a SPG Plat, I have been denied a late checkout due to “capacity””, and others have had a similar experience.

    No loyalty program elite benefits are truly “guaranteed”, so that it is ironic that it is the one calling himself “Thought Leader in Travel” who seems to be too naive to realize this, and constantly promotes the notion of “guaranteed” perks, like suite upgrades [“guaranteed” suite upgrade appears to be Freudian-slip elevation in this post of what he commonly and naively refers to as “confirmed” suite upgrade].

    In fact, I do not even want to have most elite benefits “guaranteed” because that penalizes those who can play the game well and can extend their benefits when the rules are flexible. My favorite top-tier elite perk is a suite upgrade. Therefore, you would think that I would be thrilled with HGP-type “confirmed” suite upgrades, but I do not care for DSUs at all and that is because there are ONLY 4 of them per year, which would be too few for my pattern of traveling. By contrast, complimentary Diamond suite upgrades offered by HHonors, e.g., are UNLIMITED, which means that a creative individual — like me — can get upgraded to a suite again and again and again if there is availability [same requirement for so-called “confirmed” upgrades but one can be upgraded only 4 times/yr].

    You want guaranteed 4pm late checkout? Fine, but what happens if you need a 6pm late checkout? I was approved for a 6pm checkout 3 times in as many years at Hilton Buenos Aires because my daily UA flight out of there left at 9pm and it made little sense for me to leave for the airport much earlier. By contrast, if one is guaranteed a 4 pm late checkout, a property is likely to deny a request for a later checkout and be justified because the T&C say 4pm is the latest! In fact, such denials would be likely for nearly every “guaranteed” perk that one may wish to extend…

    So, what Marriott is doing is to propose a realistic system that under-promises but over-delivers on a case-by-case basis 😉

    G’day!

  17. Are we really so entitled? No one here has considered the burden this places on housekeeping staff and their managers. Rooms just magically clean themselves. Right?

    I’m Gold and if I need a little extra time I leave by 1pm. If I need to hang out, I do so in the lobby.

  18. Sometimes you have an all-day meeting and can’t get back to your hotel until late afternoon. If you know that in advance, AND have chosen that hotel specifically for the late check-out perk, then yes you have a right to feel entitled to it. And if the chain says they offer it then they need to figure out a housekeeping schedule that allows them to live up to that offer. Not all guest check in at 3pm.

  19. If you’re SPG Plat and your late checkout is denied you call SPG and the issue magically disappears.

    I’ve had similar issues in the past with free Internet at some properties not being free. 2 minute call to the SPG line and “so sorry sir”.

    The reason SPG is so awesome is because corporate weilds a really big stick.

    RIP Starwood. Hello Hyatt.

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