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Marriott Bonvoy ‘Ambassador Elite’ Level : Ambassador experiences [Master Thread]

Marriott Bonvoy ‘Ambassador Elite’ Level : Ambassador experiences [Master Thread]

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Old Jul 13, 18, 6:50 pm
  #316  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
And ... that makes sense on the CY. I almost stayed at the CY in Sherman Oaks this week ... we might have crossed paths at the Bistro!
Starbucks for breakfast and Public School 808 for drinks/dinner both a block away...no need to subject oneself to the Bistro
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Old Jul 13, 18, 7:23 pm
  #317  
 
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post

I've followed what the concierge/Ambassador in the Marriott program can do for quite some time.
I remain interested in experiences from those who have Marriott Ambassadors that they attribute to having an Ambassador.

As for the SPG side, some might say there is (a) a number of data points from many with SPG Ambassadors who experience seem comparable to mine and (b) a single poster whose experience is significantly different than the others, and seems more attributable to the demand side rather than the supply side, and I've yet to hear of a single property who has recognized you as having an Ambassador without you reaching out to the property first, either directly or indirectly. But that's really a discussion for the SPG board, rather than this one. And, of course, both Marriott and SPG treat their frequent guests well.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 5:30 pm
  #318  
 
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Another busy travel week ... a JW, a W, and a Westin. Alas no suite upgrades but the hotels were all very busy so I have no complaints on that.

I thought, however, I'd share some datapoints on Ambassador status. First, I needed assistance from my ambassador on a minor issue with the reservation at the JW and had swapped emails. I later noticed that my reservation when checking my reservation that it remarks for "Please Welcome Ambassador Guest." When I checked in, they gave me a couple of drink coupons for the bar.

I did spend some time, however, chatting with the FD folks at the W and Westin to understand what info they see on guests. Obviously, I don't expect random FD agents to know what is happening with the bigger program but was curious on what info they have since the folks with experience on the Starwood board don't seem to know. I learned that Starwood's uses a PMS called Lightspeed to manage reservations (Marriott uses MARSHA at full service properties and FOSSE at others). At least one of the FD folks had worked for a while at a Marriott property and was familiar with it. Basically, Lightspeed shows if a guest is a Platinum. It does not, however, distinguish between the different levels of plat or indicate whether a guest has an ambassador. So, from their perspective they don't see anything different for me than they do for someone who has 150 nights a year at SPG properties. They did tell me, however, that they occasionally see requests in the reservation record from ambassadors so they would know if an ambassador had made a request.,

So ,,,, I can't dispute whether someone has received what might be described as VIP treatment at SPG properties, but it doesn't appear related based solely on having an Ambassador. Obviously, it could certainly result from having the ambassador contact the property, being recognized by the property as a meeting organizer, or being flagged by the property as a repeat guest.

I was surprised to hear they hadn't heard anything about being retrained on the Marsha system and didn't seem to be aware of any switch at their properties from Lightspeed to Marsha. Since we're getting fairly late in July, you'd think they'd know if a change is imminent so perhaps the only imminent change is the backend combination of names, award equalization, and levels which is probably easier than moving everyone off of lightspeed to Marsha at once.

I'm certainly hoping that Lightspeed wlll at least have a code added for Plat. Premier status.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 5:39 pm
  #319  
 
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
I was surprised to hear they hadn't heard anything about being retrained on the Marsha system and didn't seem to be aware of any switch at their properties from Lightspeed to Marsha. Since we're getting fairly late in July, you'd think they'd know if a change is imminent ...
Yeah ... I've had 4 SPG stays since July 1st (since March or so I've been seeing consistently better SPG rates than MR ones where I've been looking) and on two occasions I'd mentioned something about "the switchover" and gotten blank stares.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 6:55 pm
  #320  
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There now seems to be a general but willful disregard by a small number of people for how the Starwood Platinum 100 nights Ambassador program is executed--and how Ambassador status is executed differently than Platinum status at SPG hotels and differently than all elite status at Marriott hotels.

Marriott uses codes on check in computers to differentiate between elite status levels; Starwood only differentiates at check in between Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Starwood has never differentiated at check in between Plat50, Plat75, or Plat100 Ambassador status.

This has been well discussed, both here in this thread and in the Starwood Forum, but a few now--for reasons unknown--seem to think that it's a newsflash. It isn't new information.

Because Marriott only recognizes elite status at the check in counter and largely ignores it throughout the rest of any member's hotel stay, those few Marriott members seem to be having major difficulty understanding the very simple concept that a check in computer code is not the only way to (1) recognize status or (2) deliver a better or VIP experience during a hotel stay.

At least one of these individuals continues to not understand that a current Marriott "concierge/ambassador" is not equivalent in the Marriott universe to a Starwood Ambassador in the Starwood universe. For the moment, those two universes are still separate and will continue to be separate until the New Marriott Loyalty Program begins at some point in August. How a Marriott "concierge/ambassador" currently operates to provide service is not the same as how a Starwood Ambassador operates to provide service. A current Marriott "concierge/ambassador" doesn't do nearly as much nor reward its guests nearly as much as is possible and frequent in the Starwood Ambassador program--because of the simple and obvious fact that the current Marriott Rewards program doesn't reward and never has rewarded elite status nearly as well as SPG. The Marriott Rewards universe is not particularly known for elite status benefits like the SPG universe--which is why Marriott is incorporating almost all of the SPG elements into the New Loyalty Program. It isn't a close contest.

FOR THE LAST TIME for anyone bothering to read, Starwood Ambassadors exert influence because they can and do contact hotels by phone/email and make requests and identify Ambassador VIP guests as appropriate. The hotels then execute those requests and execute that VIP Ambassador recognition throughout the hotel stay, well beyond the front desk; some hotels do it better than others, and generally the nicer hotel brands do it better. Usually, those hotels have a photo of the VIPS about whom they alert everyone in the hotel. Other Ambassador guests and I have described how some (not all) hotels will have staff throughout know our names, recognize us and provide better seating at restaurants, better seating at bars, etc. We often seem to be prioritized by housekeeping. Our cars might be pulled up first by valets. These wonderful things don't always happen, of course. But I've had all of those happen to me frequently at many SPG hotels. Only the most luxurious have largely done them all.

It is understandable that Marriott members may not appreciate such recognition and elevated service since there are few hotels in the current Marriott portfolio that ever provide those. There are many hotels in the Starwood portfolio that provide those.

That can and often does make a difference in the overall experience of an Ambassador guest at Starwood hotels. it does't make a difference in every hotel stay, though!

Too many examples heretofore have been provided of elevated Starwood hotel stays, especially at some of the nicest luxury hotels that don't even have equivalents in the current Marriott portfolio, that it defies understanding. The exceptions seem to be people who want to ignore those elevated experiences or ignore that spending more money makes a difference even in the current Starwood Ambassador universe. It's also worth note that Marriott customer service--even with its trial "concierge/ambassador service"--doesn't even come close to the experience that is provided by the Starwood Ambassador program.

I believe some are simply unwilling to see the truth. They are entitled to perpetuate nonsense to make themselves feel better or to mischaracterize the Ambassador experience. I am entitled to put them on ignore--where they belong.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 7:11 pm
  #321  
 
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
It is understandable that Marriott members may not appreciate such recognition and elevated service since there are few hotels in the current Marriott portfolio that ever provide those
I love how "or simply don't need or want that" never crossed your mind. If I got half the attention that you crave at some property, it would merely piss me off. I was at the US Grant in SAN a few weeks ago just trying to get up to my room (nice upgrade, BTW) when they started in with the "anything we can do blah blah blah". Luckily, part of "great service" is also recognizing that once a guest doesn't seem interested, to just leave them TF alone.

Save it for the attention whores.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 11:08 pm
  #322  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
I was surprised to hear they hadn't heard anything about being retrained on the Marsha system and didn't seem to be aware of any switch at their properties from Lightspeed to Marsha. Since we're getting fairly late in July, you'd think they'd know if a change is imminent so perhaps the only imminent change is the backend combination of names, award equalization, and levels which is probably easier than moving everyone off of lightspeed to Marsha at once.
For what it's worth when I stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton in Penang, Malaysia, in September 2017 the manager said they had just been retrained to the Marriott system. He also made it sound like they had installed it and only needed to flip a switch on the appointed day.
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Old Jul 21, 18, 11:22 am
  #323  
 
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post

Marriott uses codes on check in computers to differentiate between elite status levels; Starwood only differentiates at check in between Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Starwood has never differentiated at check in between Plat50, Plat75, or Plat100 Ambassador status.

At least one of these individuals continues to not understand that a current Marriott "concierge/ambassador" is not equivalent in the Marriott universe to a Starwood Ambassador in the Starwood universe.

FOR THE LAST TIME for anyone bothering to read, Starwood Ambassadors exert influence because they can and do contact hotels by phone/email and make requests and identify Ambassador VIP guests as appropriate.
This is inconsistent with what you've previously stated -- that you don't know whether an SPG property can see the difference between an ordinary plat (such as myself) and someone with an ambassador. You now acknowledge -- they cannot. So, as you state, the only way a Starwood Ambassador exerts influence is by contacting the hotel. While a MR property can identify someone who has an Ambassador, I've only had it happen once in 200+ stays. So, as a practical matter, the only way a Marriott Ambassador exerts influence is by contacting the hotel just as a Starwood Ambassador does.

And, of course, hotels will always recognize repeat guests and those who organize meetings.

I'm not in a position to evaluate the Starwood Ambassador program and think that is best left for discussion in the SPG forum (although I'll note practically no one has reported similar experiences in that forum). I don't have a clue how someone in the Starwood Ambassador program can decide it is or is not better than the Marriott program. I can say that when I contact my MR Ambassador and request assistance, I get it. On the other hand, I haven't asked my Ambassador to guarantee a room temperature or get permission to bring a large dog to a hotel without regard to other guests, so I can't say whether I would get that or not. I can tell you that hotels do not prioritize housekeeping based on elite status -- they may do it because you call, based on the schedule, or because of a late/early checkout -- and if a valet brings your car out before those in the queue before you, that's nice but totally inappropriate. Also, I'm not much of a valet person but when I do, I'll just call down before I leave the room and they'll usually have it when I'm downstairs.

I would suggest that since this forum is a Marriott forum,. we should keep the discussion to the Marriott program.

I'm glad to hear that at some properties are transitioning over to the system.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 3:41 am
  #324  
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Isn’t the point that there are now only 9 days left until the current Marriott “Ambassador” programme is no more, presumably to be replaced by something almost identical to the SPG one?
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Old Jul 22, 18, 10:34 am
  #325  
 
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Originally Posted by EuropeanPete View Post
Isn’t the point that there are now only 9 days left until the current Marriott “Ambassador” programme is no more, presumably to be replaced by something almost identical to the SPG one?
At risk of being flamed .... I might draw a distinction in what happens in 9 days. Currently, Marriott and SPG both promote an Ambassador program and promote the same benefits of it. One difference is that the SPG program is a published benefit for those with 100 nights where the Marriott program is an unpublished benefit. I don't know what the selection criteria is but I am a multi-year platinum premier with several continuous years of 100+ actual nights (i.e., not meetings or credit cards)..

I believe there are no more than a couple of posters here on FT who have Marriott Ambassadors. There are, of course, several posters on FT who have SPG Ambassadors and they have a thread regarding that program.

SPG Ambassador worth it?

At least one blogger has written on the SPG program and has many comments from others with SPG Ambassadors

https://onemileatatime.boardingarea....od-ambassador/

I believe those threads and blog with comments might be a good source for those interested in how the SPG program works as compared to experiences from one or two individuals who have SPG ambassadors.

In any event, from an objective perspective, here is what we know (or appears highly likely) will be the case soon:

1. Those with an ambassador will continue to have one for the remainder of the year without regard to the 20k spend requirement.
2. Marriott has not issued written guidance but my ambassador has told me they understand it will be traditional spend -- i.e., if it shows up on your bill, it counts toward spend. I tend to travel frugally on other people's money but splurge more on personal travel so it will balance out for me. My ambassador sent over my spend for the year recently and its averaging a little less $200 a night, despite those stays in inexpensive cities (sometimes rates even in NYC are super low -- I have an upcoming reservation for under $100! at a full service property and have been upgraded to a suite). So, for many frequent travelers who travel responsibly on business, it may take 120 or more nights a year.
3. Absent contact from an ambassador, SPG properties will not know whether a guest has an ambassador or not. They do not know whether the person is a "ordinary" plat, or a plat with 150 nights per year. Therefore, unless the ambassador does something, the guests experience at the hotel will not change because they have an ambassador. Hopefully .. SPG will at least introduce a code to show that a guest is a Plat Premier but that's just speculation.
4. The Marriott system has information such that the hotel can see the guest has an ambassador. However, while I have had a Marriott ambassador since the beginning of the program two years ago and have had a couple of hundred stays since then, I have had only one FD agent notice that I have an ambassador. Whether an engaged GM has staff watching for that, I can't say. So, as a practical matter, just as in the SPG world, it seems unlikely that the guest experience at the hotel will change because a guest has an ambassador.
5. Ambassadors will likely continue to individually answer the phone and email for those with ambassadors. For example, I've added names to reservations and needed credit card authorizations in the past month and when I called or emailed my ambassador, it was immediately taken care of. When I called late in the evening on an issue, the phone was picked up within a couple of rings, I was greeted by my name by the ambassador on duty and it was apparent that my reservations were on the screen in front of her.
6. Individual hotels will continue to have broad discretion to recognize guests. For example, they may give special treatment to meeting organizers, bloggers, or in response to special requests.
7. There is a new published benefit for MR members at the ambassador level: Y24. That's an unpublished benefit I've received for many years -- well actually more because I've been able to do a Y24 arrival and a late checkout -- so I hope that doesn't mean a decrease in benefits.

Here is what we don't know ( or at least I've missed it)

1. It seems there will be a significant increase in the number those at the Plat Premier level. Treatment at MR properties for Plat Premiers has been inconsistent although I've been very happy in general. Will the SPG system be updated to reflect hotel recognition beyond all plats are the same? At MR properties, there are usually only a handful of Plat Premiers at a property, but now I suspect the numbers will be tripled. Perhaps that will be offset by official recognition of the level.
2. Meetings: It's my impression that some on the SPG side are at the ambassador level even though they don't actually stay 100+ nights a year and that there are ways of getting alternative credit (e.g., 3 nights credit by booking multiple rooms). While MR had ways for building nights, that never would have qualified anyone for Plat Premier or an ambassador. I'm not a meeting organizer (I have meeting but will usually allow staff to book the rooms and get the points/credit) so this doesn't impact me so I don't know the details of how this will work with night credit, or spend.

(I don't think I've said anything here to impugn the SPG program but am prepared to be flamed. Any objective person would say that there are aspects of the MR program that were better than the SPG program and aspects of the SPG program that were better than the MR program. That's not the purpose of this thread. I also know many former Starwood senior management. Apart from being great people, they were certainly visionaries.)
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Old Jul 22, 18, 11:11 am
  #326  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
3. Absent contact from an ambassador, SPG properties will not know whether a guest has an ambassador or not. They do not know whether the person is a "ordinary" plat, or a plat with 150 nights per year. Therefore, unless the ambassador does something, the guests experience at the hotel will not change because they have an ambassador.
bhrubin has already pointed out that this is not accurate. It's entirely possible that the receptionist wouldn't have a code on their screen at time of check-in, but in expensive properties in particular the receptionist is really very far away from any decisions to do with status recognition!

As you say, the rest is speculation. Certainly the way that I read the rules, if I were a Marriott Plat today and on the 1st of August had 100 nights and $20K spend, I believe that I would be assigned an Ambassador broadly in line with the SPG programme.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 11:34 am
  #327  
 
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Originally Posted by EuropeanPete View Post
bhrubin has already pointed out that this is not accurate. It's entirely possible that the receptionist wouldn't have a code on their screen at time of check-in, but in expensive properties in particular the receptionist is really very far away from any decisions to do with status recognition!

As you say, the rest is speculation. Certainly the way that I read the rules, if I were a Marriott Plat today and on the 1st of August had 100 nights and $20K spend, I believe that I would be assigned an Ambassador broadly in line with the SPG programme.
I believe Bhrubin has acknowledged that the SPG Lightspeed system does not have any information to state that the guest is anything other than an SPG Plat, without any distinction as to how many nights or whether they have an ambassador. He believes that the only way an SPG property (whether an Element/4 Points or a St. Regis) knows that the guest has an ambassador is because "Starwood Ambassadors exert influence because they can and do contact hotels by phone/email and make requests and identify Ambassador VIP guests as appropriate."

I can't comment on the SPG program vs the MR program because I only know the MR side. I'm sure those on the SPG side who haven't lived the MR program can't comment on the MR side. That being said, my impression is that the MR ambassador program operates just as described by those in the SPG forum. I don't believe that there are any reports in the SPG forum discussing ambassadors that ambassadors are contacting properties 100 times a year to identify guests as VIPs. Instead, the ambassadors seem to be responding to and addressing requests from the members they support.

And, of course, while some decisions at SPG and MR properties are obviously made at the front desk, its not accurate to state that status at MR properties is only a function of the front desk. For example, I regularly receive notes from GM's, often am upgraded to suites before I arrive, and occasionally get unexpected welcome food/wine. And status isn't limited to expensive properties -- I stayed at a rural Courtyard recently. When I checked in, I had a handwritten note from the GM, had been upgraded to their best suite, found a basket of goodies in my room, and a voucher to their bar. But, I doubt that has anything to do with ambassador status, although its possible that some in the MR world are seeing the ambassador code.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 11:35 am
  #328  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
4. The Marriott system has information such that the hotel can see the guest has an ambassador. However, while I have had a Marriott ambassador since the beginning of the program two years ago and have had a couple of hundred stays since then, I have had only one FD agent notice that I have an ambassador. Whether an engaged GM has staff watching for that, I can't say. So, as a practical matter, just as in the SPG world, it seems unlikely that the guest experience at the hotel will change because a guest has an ambassador.
Just a data point to add which is minor in the grand scheme of this discussion:
I was surprised that a Marriott-family hotel I checked in recently recognized at the front desk that I have an ambassador, and thanked me for my loyalty as an ambassador-level guest. I am SPG100 but have not stayed at Marriott hotels very much so far. I did not think the SPG AMB100 status had made its way to the Marriott system yet, I thought I was still Plat50 on the Marriott side for now.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 11:45 am
  #329  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
if a valet brings your car out before those in the queue before you, that's nice but totally inappropriate.
I am not sure I agree here. I would be pleased if I got this kind of preferential treatment as AMB100, and likewise if I am staying in another hotel chain where I am not a frequent guest and someone gets preferential treatment ahead of me in the queue because he has elite status while I do not, I am ok with that too.

While not entirely the same, I don't think it's completely different from the separate check-in line for Gold/Plat where elite guests get "in front" of the queue.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 11:56 am
  #330  
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I have over 100 Marriott nights this year, mainly from meetings and award stays from credit card welcome bonus points. What are the chances that people like me will be awarded Amssador status due to a glitch, or a spend waiver for the first year upon the transition to New Marriott Rewards ?
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