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Marriott Pulls the “Soft Landing” from Under Bonvoy Members

Marriott Pulls the “Soft Landing” from Under Bonvoy Members
Joe Cortez
Another “unwritten” Marriot policy appears to be “Bonvoyed,” as the hotelier faces critical cuts due to the novel Coronavirus situation. On the forums, Marriott Bonvoy elite members report they are no longer getting a “soft landing,” sending them down by up to two loyalty tiers.

Why the “Soft Landing” matters for a hotel

The practice of a “soft landing” was a standing, unwritten policy by Marriott dating back to at least 2017. Several members who were just short of earning status would have their status either extended or at least dropped to one tier lower as a gesture of goodwill. But FlyerTalkers now say that they aren’t getting letters informing them they can keep their high-tier status and benefits.
“I am literally speechless,” writes one FlyerTalker. “I wrote back to Marriott on the same email that I got in Nov. 2019 regarding Titanium will be soft-landed to Platinum and the response I got today was that the policy has changed since and the “soft landing” policy was no longer applicable.’

Not All Soft Landings Are Created Equal

The policy seems to vary from guest to guest. Some reported that the “soft landing” meant that the guest wouldn’t lose status entirely, but instead get bumped down by up to two tiers.
From what I’ve read, soft-landing doesn’t necessarily mean going down one level.
“Marriott seems to define soft-landing as going down one or two levels,” someone suggested. “From the data points I’ve seen so far, soft landing did happen, and Titanium and Platinum members got a two-level landing while many Ambassadors got a one-level landing.”
Despite that, many FlyerTalkers expressed frustration that while they thought they would drop by one tier at most, they are going down even further.
“All they need is a consistent policy you can rely on, and a year’s notice if they are going to change it,” notes forum member escapefromphl. “I’m not sure I care to do 26 more nights with just Gold and may just give up and be a free agent.”

No Guarantees on Status Qualification in 2021

The “soft landings” are being pulled at a time where Marriott is facing losses and furloughing employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A MarketWatch report notes Marriott furloughed around two-thirds of their corporate staff – including cutting the salary of CEO Arne Sorenson – while locations are temporarily laying off housekeepers and customer service employees. When FlyerTalk asked Marriott about requalifying for status in 2021, the hotelier noted that no decision is made.
View Comments (20)

20 Comments

  1. cckevinm1

    March 25, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Why don’t you wait and see what happens. As you say in the article Marriott had to furlough two-thirds of corporate staff. Tough times for everyone. Status may not be top priority at the moment. Hilton just extended status and I’m sure more will follow. Take a breath.

  2. naumank

    March 25, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    This is indeed a inexplicable move by Marriott. By mid-March, I thought I had soft-landed, but then my status dropped to Platinum over the weekend.(I am life time platinum.) I have soft landed several times since the last financial crisis. Given the current situation, doing soft landing would cost Marriott very little.

  3. edgewood49

    March 25, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Joe, I think that the airlines and hotels that get out ahead of this mess we’re in with their FF will win in the long run. Case in point look at Hilton and what they are doing. for my money Hilton will win in the long run. Marriott is being petty about all this, and frankly will lose or be the biggest loser. And you know what they will deserve it.

  4. clarkef

    March 25, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    The difficulty in taking a wait and see position is that the answers to these questions often affect future planning.

  5. WoodstockJim

    March 26, 2020 at 5:09 am

    I agree with cckevinm1. I am getting emails daily from vendor programs extending expiring dining, car and hotel rewards that are being extended into June. They have to get back on their feet from this and it will take some time. Although it doesn’t hurt to make some noise to bring it to their attention.

  6. schelsr

    March 26, 2020 at 6:04 am

    I’m not as charitable:

    Marriott and their “Bonvoy” are the new Disney of the hotel chains = Squeeze every penny, and be ruthless about it. Don’t smile too much.

    My plan is simple: Wholesale brand-switch when the COVID Pandemic Ends, and immediately transfer or burn the +1M Boyvoyed points before they think to devalue them further.

  7. jpheisclt

    March 26, 2020 at 6:20 am

    I got lowered from titanium to gold. I’m 9/10 years platinum or above and 547/600 nights for lifetime platinum. Guess I’ll have to wait on that lifetime platinum. Thanks Marriott for showing how much you appreciate my loyalty just as I reach the finish line for lifetime platinum.

  8. Danwriter

    March 26, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Marriott — the world leader in destination and resort fees.

  9. jbart74

    March 26, 2020 at 8:00 am

    I do hope Marriott comes around and follows Hilton’s lead. I worked for a decade to save up enough miles for a four week trip to Europe in August. Knowing I would be booking it for 2020, I did all it takes to hit titanium for this year so I could enjoy the Titanium Benes while on my dream vacation. Well, I’m out of work and out of money and have had to postpone the trip to 2021. It sure would be nice to maintain Titanium for 2021 as well. I certainly won’t be getting there with stays this year as I work in the live theater business and it’s all shut down indefinitely. I know… First world problems, but I’ve been planning this trip perfectly for over five years and it just sucks.

  10. Full Score

    March 26, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Come back Starwood!!!!!!

  11. RedElmo

    March 26, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Hilton did the right thing. Marriott has been terrible for the past few years. They’re becoming United Airlines. Screw customers first then worry about it later.

  12. Lextheimpaler

    March 26, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Glad I burned all my points. Marriott are cheapest hotel chain out. I hope they go busy.

  13. BFisher54

    March 26, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Bonvoy is becoming less and less desirable. Good going a Hilton!

  14. KRSW

    March 26, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    While my status didn’t change (Plat -> Plat), this decision seriously makes me reconsider whether to even bother with Marriott this year. Their IT and website are still a dumpster fire, customer service is dodgy at best. Many Marriott hotels now have extra fees that are higher than actual hotel rooms elsewhere. The CEO is very much out-of-touch with hotel owners AND guests.

    Yep…time for me (and my office) to look for greener pastures.

  15. Bouncer

    Bouncer

    March 27, 2020 at 3:37 am

    “Hilton would like to thank Marriott/Sheraton for this decision, and looks forward to welcoming all the former Bonvoy members to the Hilton portfolio.” -Hilton PR Draft Press Release, probably.

    Because that’s pretty much what’s gonna happen with all the frequent travelers. It’s a no brainer to go with the program that actually makes you think they value you as customer, and not just your credit card.

    Regards,
    -Bouncer-

  16. slipcitybus

    March 27, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Why is everyone so pissed at Marriott Bonvoy? The status you show today is what you earned by December 31, 2019 which is before the COVID 19 issue. You still have till December 31, 2020 to earn your status. Marriott still has many months to evaluate the situation and determine what to do. Why should Marriott make a decision today? It is only March 2020. Stop being such spoiled, whiney folk. Everyone is affected by this COVID 19. You are here whining about whether you are going to get an upgrade or free breakfast. Marriott has way more important issues to deal with. So just STOP.

  17. Bouncer

    Bouncer

    March 28, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Pissed? No, not at all, just recognizing this is a dumb decision. Marriotts in Spain, and various other countries are all CLOSED. there is no way to to earn points/tier status with any of the brands hotels in any of these locations. So no, you don’t have until December to re-earn status. You have possibly six months or less, depending on when they are allowed to re-open.

    Hilton, by comparison goes the other route and flat extends everyone through 2022. Which brand do you think is going to earn more loyalty based business? The one that makes it harder to get or maintain status when there is PHYSICALLY NO WAY TO USE THE HOTEL/BRAND, or the one that says, “Hey, Pandemics mess with everyone, we’re just gonna pretend 2020 didn’t happen in terms of status.”.

    I have family that works for Marriott. I *want* to stay at their properties out of loyalty, but as a business traveler, it’s stupid to do so until they recognize they are not holiday inn, and business travelers, and frequent business travelers, are absolutely their bread and butter.

    Maw-maw and paw-paw and the grandkids want the cheapest. It’s business and gov’t travelers willing to pay the higher rates because it’s not coming out of their pockets. That’s just the economics of it. You make it harder for them to get or maintain status and they will migrate to the competition that doesn’t.

    Regards,
    -Bouncer-

  18. UncleDude

    March 30, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Great for Hilton to extend my Diamond Status a Year..However unlike Bonvoy I have not had a real upgrade from Hilton in 2 years asf Diamond . Strangly I had more from Hilton when I was Gold. Go Figure.

  19. edgewood49

    April 1, 2020 at 8:44 am

    I went online and deleted my listed credit cards. Shame on Marriott Sorenson owns this one

  20. SG Pirate

    April 3, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    I am longtime Hilton Diamond (just a few more nights to Lifetime) and a small time Marriott/Starwood player. Last year, I got to Titanium. As I have noted on other posts on FT, I have always found Hilton’s programme better with significantly greater ‘optional’ benefits (upgrades) actually received (i.e. I feel the overall recognition is greater).

    So far, in 2020, I have 2 Bonvoy nights and 29 Hilton nights, with another 30+ (lockdown at Conrad in Manila) in play. I guess the data tells the story.

    If I don’t get my Bonvoy again, it won’t be the end of the world….I’ll try, but it all depends on how things play out for the rest of the year. BUT, no matter what, I will maintain Hilton Diamond. In years past, I have done an extra stay here and there to get over the line. Soon, I will be lifetime. So foot off the pedal? I don’t think so. For now, HHonors beats Bonvoy by miles…at least for me.

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