Old Mar 18, 19, 9:37 am
Original Member
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Costa Mesa, CA, USA
Programs: AA (Life Plat), Starwood (Plat) and every other US program
Posts: 4,984
In my view the programs (airline and hotel) are evolving entities, and you need to keep looking for the next best deal (of which there are fewer and fewer).

40 years ago I was a Sheraton customer. Can't remember the level. I was in an upgrade suite (a real suite, with a view of the Mississippi) in the Sheraton New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

Then about 35 years ago, I was one of the most frequent travelers in the US. (500k BIS, all domestic). I got a postcard from Marriott which said that if I would make just 2 stays with them, to try them out, I would get a free night. I used the free night for the Prince de Galles in Paris. When I arrived, they didn't show it as a reward stay. Luckily I had a fax (remember those?) confirmation. They upgrade us to a larger room, and sent flowers and champagne which were worth more than I paid for any other room in Europe. So I stayed with Marriott for about 20 years, getting phenomenal upgrades (my stays are 1 or 2 nights) and amazing personalized service (only required maybe once every 3 years). I got one of the first Black Cards (FD clerks would ask to see it, because they hadn't seen one before).

Then about 15 years ago, I noticed that Marriott had changed. I wasn't getting many upgrades. So, with some reluctance, I changed over to SPG. I was pleased because I got more upgrades and then they added breakfast. Of course, their website IT was among the worst of any company I have ever seen (you can find my posts on FT saying just that). But it wasn't a reason to leave.

Then, about 3 years ago, I noticed that SPG wasn't quite the same. So I began to book my hotels with a greater emphasis on my personal convenience. Stlll lots of SPG, always lots of Marriott (I was LT Plat, so I still used them, just not as much as SPG), and others.

I am NOT currently a frequent flyer (i.e - more than 300k BIS/year). I am not even a busy flyer (i.e. - more than 100k BIS/year). So my current opinion is based on judgment and history, not as many specific interactions. But what I see is the unfortunate decline into "the computer won't let me" that is affecting MANY businesses (travel and otherwise).

P.S. - My current favorite program is the one with Omni hotels. Why? Because I am a frequent visitor to one of their properties where they treat me VERY well. But repeat business means a lot. I used to be on the "50 top customers" list at the Westn Bonaventure and I was treated very well.
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