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Marriott Bonvoy is not a program know for making customer-friendly moves so it comes as a surprise to find out that Marriott is reducing the award cost at a lot of its properties for a (very) limited booking window, making elite status a lot easier to earn this year, and that it’s throwing in an extra (albeit temporary) benefit for its most loyal guests.
Marriott Reduces Award Rates For Two Weeks
ViewFromTheWing has reported that Marriott is reducing the cost of an award night at approximately 5,500 of its properties for bookings made by 30 June and for stays made by 31 July 2020.
These 5,500 properties are spread across the world (no list has been provided) and are offering award nights at their off-peak prices for the next two weeks.
Here’s the current Marriott award chart:
A quick search on Marriott.com shows that properties like the West Hollywood EDITION (50,000/night) and the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo (70,000/night) are showing off-peak pricing on all dates between now and the end of July, but there are also a significant number of properties which don’t appear to be open just yet.
If you have one or more free night certificates from a Marriott co-branded credit card (like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card) and if you’re happy to travel, this may be a good time to strike. The certificate that comes from the Boundless card is limited to properties costing a maximum of 30,000 points per night and, for the next 6 weeks, these award night rate reductions should bring a lot of Category 5 properties into play.
Likewise, if you have a certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express (limited to properties costing a maximum of 50,000 points/night), there should be a lot more very nice Category 7 properties that you can now book for stays by 31 July.
Marriott Toping Up Qualifying Nights
Marriott announced that it was extending all elite statuses for an additional 12 months back in April, and now the hotelier has announced that it will be adding bonus elite qualifying nights to Bonvoy accounts from late July. The number of elite qualifying nights deposited into each Bonvoy member’s account will be equal to 50% of the elite nights needed to earn the status that member earned in 2019.
Here’s what that will look like:
This move will have two important effects:
- It will make it a lot easier for most Bonvoy members to improve on their current status.
- It will make it a lot easier for Bonvoy members to earn the “Choice Benefits” that are awarded when the 50 and 75 elite night thresholds are reached.
For members who have Titanium or Lifetime Titanium status, the extra elite night credits won’t do much for their chances of improving their status as most of them probably won’t be spending the $20,000 needed (on top of the 100 Elite Nights) to reach Ambassador status…but at least the extra nights should help towards the next Choice Benefit threshold.
Ambassador Elites Get A New Benefit
For this year only, Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status holders (i.e. members who spent $20,000 with Marriott and earned 100 elite nights in 2019) and who earn a further 100 elite nights this year, will be given the opportunity to nominate another Bonvoy member for Platinum status.
On the one hand, it’s very surprising (and welcome) to have Marriott trying to do something positive for its Bonvoy members while on the other hand, two of the three moves are a little half-hearted.
The bonus elite night credits are undoubtedly a very nice move for some, and if I valued the Choice Benefits higher than I do I’d probably get a little excited about the fact that they’re about to get a lot easier to earn this year…but the other two moves aren’t particularly impressive.
Lowering the award costs for one month only (and for a 2-week booking window) isn’t generous. It’s even less generous when you consider how many hotels will remain closed in July, how many countries will remain closed to outside visitors in July and how few people will actually want to travel in July. Why not just lower the award costs through to the end of September or October to give people a fighting chance to take advantage of the offer?
Ambassador members are, by definition, some of the most loyal Marriott guests so it’s nice that Marriott has thought to give them a new (temporary) benefit…but why not give them a benefit that they can actually use for themselves? Marriott Platinum status is just about ok as hotel statuses go but how is in any way rewarding for an Ambassador Elite? What does it do for them? Why not just tell Ambassadors that their nights earned in 2020 will roll over into 2021? That would be a true “thank you for your loyalty” move.
We’re seeing one very nice move and two moves that really should have been better from Marriott Bonvoy…but the way things have been going with Bonvoy I guess we should happy for whatever crumbs the program throws our way:)