Even As It Becomes Tougher to Earn a Marriott Ambassador, Ambassadors May Be Spread Too Thin

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Starwood pioneered assigning a designated ‘Ambassador’ to their top customers, someone to look after reservations, handle special requests, and generally take care of all things Starwood-related. You’d get one person to contact by email or phone, they would get to know your preferences and needs, and could then be more proactive taking care of you.

I stayed 100 nights with Starwood in 2016 and was assigned an Ambassador for 2017. My Ambassador was excellent.

She proactively checked SPG50 rates which aren’t searchable online which gave me a great deal at Las Alcobas in Mexico City. She suggested special suite rates that allowed me to confirm a better room without spending extra money and still use my 24 hour check-in benefit (which wouldn’t have interacted well with a suite night award request).


Las Alcobas

However members certainly have had varied experiences. Different Ambassadors provide different levels of service. Each person has different skills. The program itself provides guidelines but some go above and beyond. And workload matters.

Hyatt has their own version of the program, which has been rocky for some, with overworked ‘My Hyatt Conciergeswho don’t contact customers for weeks after becoming eligible. I’ve had generally good experiences with the program, but I’ve been through several different agents (including one or two who are thoroughly incompetent) through the years back when it was the Private Line program.

Hyatt assigns a My Hyatt Concierge to everyone earning Globalist status through regular means (staying 60 nights, renewing at 55 nights, and with the new World of Hyatt Credit Card not only do you earn nights towards status but you can reach this status through credit card spend alone).

Marriott’s new program on the other hand doesn’t just require 100 nights in a year for an Ambassador, as Starwood had, but also requires a minimum of $20,000 spend. That puts an Ambassador out of reach for many members. With such rarified criteria you’d expect each Ambassador to have plenty of time dedicated to the needs of each customer.

Early in the week Loyalty Lobby wrote that an Ambassador working for Marriott was telling members they worked with that they were going from working with 200 customers up to 300 customers. I’m not sure that these third hand numbers are accurate, but it does seem that Marriott is adjusting the metrics for how many customers they expect each Ambassador to work with.

Marriott tells me,

The ambassador program is a benefit we offer to some our most loyal members. While we do not disclose its inner workings, we have never wavered in our commitment to provide the highest level of service through our ambassadors.


Battle House Renaissance, Mobile Alabama

Loyalty Lobby calculates “less than 8 minutes per client each week” but that’s simply not how things work. When I had an Ambassador I didn’t contact her every week. I don’t contact my Hyatt Concierge every week either. And most requests don’t take much time at all.

I don’t know what the right workload is for each agent, it’s a matter of what level of service Ambassadors are expected to provide and not just how much time each request takes but how much time an agent has to think about their guest. Some clients have heavy needs, others are lighter, an Ambassador should be spending much more time per person than a reservations agent but the right metric is what level of service is being provided to a group of customers this important not average call time.

We’ll have to see how the Marriott Ambassador program delivers in practice. It shouldn’t surprise, however, that there are metrics being applied to Ambassadors, a data-driven approach, and a need for Ambassadors to stretch themselves as they scale to work with many more customers after the program re-alignment. Let’s just hope Marriott uses the right metrics, because you get what you measure.

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. I have definitely noticed the drop-off this year, though hard to tell how much of it is an increased load vs. Marriott’s anti-CS behavior vs. their absolutely terrible IT vs. the non-existent leadership.

    Regardless, as a LTPP who has no need/desire to spend $20K in a year going forward (even though I will still probably get 100 nights) I’m fine with it. I just hope Marriott has slightly gotten their act together a bit more come 2.1.19.

  2. Then of course there are those who spend $20,000 but not a lot of nights and get to stay on hold for
    Gold customer service . Though I think a lot of those profile guests are finding greener pastures elsewhere 🙂

  3. Typical Marriott cost-cutting sort of maneuver. They did similar shenanigans when they bought Renaissance. They they are buying the brand for the fervent loyal guest base, and then chip away at all the reasons the loyal guests were loyal in the first place. This LTPP SPG’r is starting to find better customer service and greener pastures elsewhere….

  4. Three year SPG w/ Ambassador. Luckily I have my ambassador contact info saved because after the aug 18 merger…..her contact info and name don’t appear anywhere on the SPG app or website anymore??? WTF??

  5. Have had an Ambassador for 2 years. Not impressed. They did excel 1 time, when an Ambassador Manager in the US, by coincidence, noticed an issue with my reservation done by my Ambassador who is based in Europe. This was during the weekend and the trip was on the following Monday. She went above and beyond, but that is the only time I have been impressed with the program.

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