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Will You Take a Chance on Marriott’s Mystery Bonus?

Will You Take a Chance on Marriott’s Mystery Bonus?
Joe Cortez

Marriott Bonvoy travelers are wondering why they should “Unlock More” with the company’s end-of-year loyalty promotion. With the promise of a “mystery bonus” after staying twice, many frequent travelers say they will look elsewhere for their fall stays.

Marriott Bonvoy: A name that has become so associated with everything negative at hotels, not even Marriott International wants the name anymore.

Despite the poor choice in naming, Marriott appears to be sticking to their brand – including all the negative connotations. In the year since the merge of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, the term “Bonvoyed” now refers to what happens when frequent guests try to actually use their status at a hotel. And with Marriott’s fourth-quarter 2019 promotion, the search for “Bonvoying” the customer continues.

Discovered by FlyerTalker Temedar from an e-mail, the global promotion is titled “Unlock More.” However, what travelers “unlock” from the deal isn’t very clear. According to the promotion, guests must register for the bonuses by December 31, 2019. From there, they must stay twice to earn 2,000 bonus points in order to “unlock” an additional offer within three days of the second stay.

The additional offer is one of life’s great mysteries. It could range from additional points or even a fast-track to loyalty status, to possibly a Meet-and-Greet with ghosts (if only the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa were part of the 7,000 Bonvoy-participating hotels). The incredible mystery has many FlyerTalkers wondering: is it even worth staying at a Marriott property for the mystery surprise?

Compare the “Unlock More” promotion to what Marriott’s competition is offering: Both Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt have straightforward promotions for their members. With Hilton Honors, registered travelers can earn double points on stays between September 9, 2019 and January 5, 2020. If they pay with their Hilton Honors American Express card, that turns into triple points per stay.

World of Hyatt is offering a very similar offer, but with a smaller number of hotels. Registered guests who stay at any of the approximately 350 Hyatt Place hotels can earn triple points for their stay, or double points per stay at participating Hyatt Hotels, Mlife Rewards hotels or Small Luxury Hotels of the World hotels. Guests must register by October 31, 2019 to take advantage of the bonus offer.

So will FlyerTalkers actually “Unlock More” with Bonvoy this fall and winter? Much like the name “Bonvoy,” forum members are looking at the promotion as a joke.

“I can imagine all the Marriott social media execs laughing at everyone on FlyerTalk the past few weeks and the joke continues,” writes FlyerTalker JJuice, who doesn’t see the advantage of “Unlocking More.” “They are calling everyone’s bluff of using other chains.”

And FlyerTalkers are doing that en masse. Many have announced on the forum that they will move their planned stays from Marriott chains to other hotels, including Hilton. Moreover, FlyerTalkers are frustrated that the promotion starts so late in October – whereas the competing programs are already offering their promotions to guests who register now.

“I don’t have much experience with Marriott prior to the merger, but I feel like since then, all the promos are really weak, especially this,” writes FlyerTalker Ryaies, who was much more familiar with Starwood Preferred Guest. “Coming from SPG, this is rather pathetic of a promo; You would get more by opting “Green Choice” with SPG.”

Meanwhile, forum member joeags offers a possible business rationale for the lackluster promo: “It’s obvious that Marriott is not feeling that they need to drive business to their hotels through promotions, and that the threats here are not impacting them. Good for them I guess.”

It appears that all Marriott is unlocking with “Unlock More” is the continued frustration of everyone who has been “Bonvoyed” by the new program.

Are you going to “Unlock More” with Marriott’s latest program? Or will you skip it for other hotel programs? Share your thoughts on the FlyerTalk forums now!

View Comments (9)


  1. vargha

    October 16, 2019 at 5:21 am

    I guess I’m one of the exceptions. I am a Titanium elite member (Lifetime Gold elite) and I have no real issues with Marriott as a whole. I find their point offers overall to be better than Hilton, fairly straightforward (and not requiring me to use the Chase Marriott card to get them either), and the points required for a hotel stay are far less than with Hilton. Their properties are also decent for the most part. My wife and I just went on a ten-day trip through Eastern Canada and the northeast U.S. using points. Every Marriott property had already upgraded our room prior to checking in, including a giant corner suite in Halifax, Nova Scotia that had two bathrooms and two differently numbered entry doors. I realize that there are problems with any company. My personal anecdotal experience is that Marriott customer service has been friendly and efficient, and has been quick to throw extra points my way when there were issues even though I never asked for them.

  2. finarg

    October 16, 2019 at 6:03 am

    good comments and food for thought. My only additional comment is that Hilton points are worth only about 30-35 cents per dollar. just need to compare cash cost and point cost.
    Marriot points are worth more thasn double that (sometimes triple) as based on hotel category level and not cash price
    big big difference. i have platinum and diamond status and I almost never find as good opportunity to use hilton points

  3. xlnja

    October 16, 2019 at 6:13 am

    Marriott promotions have been pathetic for years, especially when compared to Hilton. Although Hilton status simply equates to two free waters at check-in, at least Hilton throws points at you with great promotions.

  4. brentleatherman

    October 16, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Huh. I changed my reservation from a Courtyard to a Garden Inn. While I have completely been Bonvoyed lately, I made this change due to the wretched conditions at this particular CY. Will never book at that property again.

  5. LillianJ


    October 16, 2019 at 7:38 am

    We have had no problem with Marriott using for business purposes and the odd vacation.
    When we holiday we generally use Four Season.
    We did use our Hyatt points in BA and were given a dirty room in a high class hotel, very disappointed.

  6. sfcharles1

    October 16, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Every time I stay at a Marriott I think how much I miss SPG- the quality of food has gone down dramatically, the breakfasts are barely edible and generically processed dull,, the lounges are overflowing with people- last week at a property i stayed at, there were no seats available in the lounge at 8 pm. Not to mention the new policy of one frickin bath towel, one shampoo…vanity kits not being replaced without being requested, shampoo not being replaced… we’ve all been Bonvoyed! Even the staff acknowledges this and misses the old SPG…

  7. BradJankowski

    October 16, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Since everything in the “loyalty world” is being downgraded, my expectations of a somewhat valuable bonus are extremely low. Bait and switch comes to mind. Have been using Hyatt for more of my travel since Bonvoy arrived and the merger occurred.

  8. BNAChairman

    October 16, 2019 at 10:38 am

    I’m Lifetime Diamond with Hilton but moved all of my business to Marriott after I achieved the penultimate HHonor. I find Marriotts more consistent than Hiltons, especially the full service Hilton and DoubleTree brands. And Hilton still has no late checkout policy for Diamonds that I’m aware of. I also like that there’s a Marriott Titanium number where a real person answers without having to go through a bunch of menus.

    So far I’ve only been Bonvoyed twice – the Hotel Paseo in Palm Desert that refused to offer a complimentary breakfast and the JW Marriott Chicago that refused to honor the 4 PM checkout rule. Not bad for 400+ nights.

  9. gavron

    October 17, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Bonvoy. Great name for great company. Oh wait, by “great” I meant “stupid”.

    From my free WiFi at a Hilton property.

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