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Marriott's No Blackout Policy, Post-Merger General Discussion Thread

Marriott's No Blackout Policy, Post-Merger General Discussion Thread

Old Aug 30, 18, 10:17 pm
  #1  
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Marriott's No Blackout Policy, Post-Merger General Discussion Thread

I've been trying to book a saturday night award stay at the Hotel Trio in California wine country (officially part of the residence inn brand). There has been no award availability on the website since August 18. But base studio rooms are available for cash at standard rates. And looking at the availability calendar, it is clear that the only nights unavailable for points are Saturday nights. I called the marriott platinum elite line today and was told "award rooms are based on availability and they have chosen not to make all their standard rooms available." I said that the new combined program advertises that there are no restrictions. and read word for word this from the website:

Redeem your points for Free Night Awards at any of our more than 6,500 hotels and resorts worldwide, for any day of the year, even holidays. If you have the points and we have a standard room, itís yours.

I also read the terms and conditions which read

3.2.n. Blackout dates refer to a limited number of dates when a Participating Property could choose not to permit Members to redeem Points for Awards, but the Company has a ďNo Blackout DatesĒ benefit so that if there is a standard room available for booking by any means, whether by cash, credit or Points, then a Member can reserve the room using Points. The following properties either do not participate in or do not fully participate in the No Blackout Dates benefit at this time:

The agent was not phased. and re-iterated that i was mistaken, award rooms are absolutely based on availability set by the hotel.

I tried again with a second agent and had the same experience. I asked for a supervisor and the response was "a supervisor can't do anything either. you are wrong, availability is controlled by the hotel and they have decided to not make all standard rooms available. You have to call the property"

So clearly there has been a lack of training on this. More troubling, when pushed about why they can't force the hotels to abide by the T&Cs i was met with a clear message that that doesn't happen with marriott. A hotel can do whatever it wants with no fear of reprisal.

Luckily, i did call the hotel and the manager on duty a) confirmed that they capacity control rooms but b) was willing to override it since i was a Platinum member.

Hopefully this is just growing pains and that there will be real effort to communicate this change to Marriott properties and real enforcement of this benefit as written in the coming months. It's a big value for legacy SPGers and I was excited to see that language appear on the website and in the T&Cs. Now we just need commitment to follow through.
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Old Aug 30, 18, 11:07 pm
  #2  
 
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I had a similar experience a few days ago with a Fairfield Inn in Michigan. Weekend nights unavailable for points bookings, but plenty of standard rooms available.
I called the Platinum number and spoke with a clueless agent - I literally read her the terms 7 or 8 times, and her response was always "I can book you a room with cash, but not points"...infuriating.

I finally asked for a supervisor, who apparently called the hotel and got me a room with points. But there's still no availability online for any weekend night, so nothing really changed.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 8:46 am
  #3  
 
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My experience having had three Marriott stays in August - from mid month to now - is that nothing at all in any way has yet changed at Marriott. Suffice to say, staff at hotels and call centres don't pour over Ts&Cs like people on here do ...

Nor has it changed much at Starwood properties this month, except where it comes to providing people less. That they are getting spot on. It appears I am wrong then, they read Ts & Cs carefully when they are to their advantage
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Old Aug 31, 18, 8:55 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by aacar View Post
I had a similar experience a few days ago with a Fairfield Inn in Michigan. Weekend nights unavailable for points bookings, but plenty of standard rooms available.
I called the Platinum number and spoke with a clueless agent - I literally read her the terms 7 or 8 times, and her response was always "I can book you a room with cash, but not points"...infuriating.

I finally asked for a supervisor, who apparently called the hotel and got me a room with points. But there's still no availability online for any weekend night, so nothing really changed.
The most troubling part from my conversations is that there is no mechanism or desire from marriott rewards to even attempt to take corrective action. First, there was a definite "the systems says...that's all I can do." Well I can look on the website and see what the system says. Worse though, the T&Cs are apparently merely guidelines. SPG would have had a case file opened through the lurkers and corrective action taken before I woke up this morning.

This is fundamentally where the effort to capture the SPG secret sauce will break down. I was loyal to SPG because, while imperfect, there was still a level of value beyond "hey you can earn a lot of points and then cash them in...if the hotel feels like it," which for now seems to be Marriott's primary, if not sole, value prop...ok, maybe lounge access and a slightly nicer room. If the soft side of "no gimmicks" with strong education and enforcement gets lost in translation, it seems a tough argument to stick with Starriott if my travel patterns continue to give me Hyatt options.

Last edited by boolean64; Aug 31, 18 at 9:04 am
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Old Aug 31, 18, 10:04 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by boolean64 View Post
The most troubling part from my conversations is that there is no mechanism or desire from marriott rewards to even attempt to take corrective action. First, there was a definite "the systems says...that's all I can do." Well I can look on the website and see what the system says. Worse though, the T&Cs are apparently merely guidelines. SPG would have had a case file opened through the lurkers and corrective action taken before I woke up this morning.

This is fundamentally where the effort to capture the SPG secret sauce will break down. I was loyal to SPG because, while imperfect, there was still a level of value beyond "hey you can earn a lot of points and then cash them in...if the hotel feels like it," which for now seems to be Marriott's primary, if not sole, value prop...ok, maybe lounge access and a slightly nicer room. If the soft side of "no gimmicks" with strong education and enforcement gets lost in translation, it seems a tough argument to stick with Starriott if my travel patterns continue to give me Hyatt options.

Marriott Leaderships focus is obviously not customer satisfaction or customer communication.

It seems like: they haven’t conducted proper training of staff on the new combined program changes and probably kept the tc’s secret internally until just before the merger, they don’t allow telephone agents to make common sense decisions or be proactive in getting to an agreeable decision (that’s IF you can actually get through to someone on the phone) staff don’t seem empowered to make these kind of decisions, they play the “supervisor can’t help you/is not available” game, fast or quick is not part of their solutions strategy and it seems there is no accountability for timely response or solutions, the customer isn’t the one who is right even if it’s obvious they are right, they don’t communicate with the members as is very evident in all our problems post merger, they don’t really care.

It’s very obvious this is their style and it’s not changing.

It’s a dramatic shift from how we were all treated by SPG.

It might not be something or a style that is going to work for many of us. Time will tell.
I don’t believe it’s ( Marriotts attitude) going to change at all.



Last edited by Bigshaker; Aug 31, 18 at 10:10 am
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Old Aug 31, 18, 10:21 am
  #6  
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I think you are misunderstanding the situation. That is, they simply can't do "it" (no matter what "it" is) if the computer doesn't allow it. They don't have the power to override. In fact, based on some issues I am having with a reservation, even the senior people are limited in their abilities. (I changed a 2 night MARRIOTT award stay to a one night stay. Marriott res couldn't do it, but they called the hotel and the hotel confirmed that they would accept the change. That is all documented in the notes. But I have been on the phone with Marriott reservations for over 35 minutes while an agent who AGREES works with her tech support and her lead agent and they haven't yet been able to actually change the reservation in the system so that I only get charged the points for 1 night, instead of 2.)

Do I think this is acceptable? No. But put the focus where it belongs - on the management/IT side. The agents don't care what the T&C say because it doesn't matter to them - if they don't see the inventory they can't book your room. You need to redirect the request to management.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 10:36 am
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by boolean64 View Post
This is fundamentally where the effort to capture the SPG secret sauce will break down. I was loyal to SPG because, while imperfect, there was still a level of value beyond "hey you can earn a lot of points and then cash them in...if the hotel feels like it," which for now seems to be Marriott's primary, if not sole, value prop...ok, maybe lounge access and a slightly nicer room. If the soft side of "no gimmicks" with strong education and enforcement gets lost in translation, it seems a tough argument to stick with Starriott if my travel patterns continue to give me Hyatt options.
This is precisely why I fear things will all fall apart. I don't think the sauce is so secret and it baffles me as to why Marriott would go through such effort to acquire the Starwood portfolio (often citing the strength of it's brand loyal customer base) but fail to put in the required effort to maintain and grow that base. I haven't lost all hope as I've done several Marriott/SPG Moments events over the last 18 months and the Marriott team has really picked up a LOT from the SPG team with more recent events being jointly run very well. I'm willing to live with the growing pains of the last two weeks if there's an actual commitment to keeping the best parts of SPG, but it's reports like these that make me fear the worst. Failure to ensure hotel discipline quickly becomes a slippery slope with those hotels that do abide by the program rules sometimes overrun to a point where they move into the group shirking. At the end of the day consistency breaks down and expectations fall and brand loyalty becomes pointless.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 10:38 am
  #8  
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They can do some "weird" things if they really want to. Yesterday, I wanted to make a 5 night award reservation at the Disney Dolphin resort. For some reason, I could make 5 individual 1 night standard award reservations, but couldn't make a single 5 night (to get that points for 4 get 5th night free.) So I called and they also couldn't do it. It even went up a few levels. Finally, they just decided to make a 3 night award reservation (using 150K points out of my account) and then add on the 2 extra nights, but not charge me any more points. So my reservation now has an interesting "Can't display the full reservation error" and I was told I will need to call back in a week or 2 (after the dust settles) and get them to fully complete the reservation. But for the time being, I have a 5 night award reservation in the system (but only using 150K points.)
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Old Aug 31, 18, 7:43 pm
  #9  
 
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I tried to book a points stay at the Renaissance Lucerne and got a response something to the effect of "this hotel is not accepting award reservations at this time". It was not "no availability", but rather "we don't take points". Strange.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 8:29 pm
  #10  
 
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I have called several times regarding hotels not honoring the No Blackout Dates policy outlined in the terms and conditions. Each time I started off by reading the policy and having the rep confirm that it was correct that if a hotel (except one of the hotels on the exclusion list in the terms and conditions) had a standard room availablefor cash then I could use points for it. Then I pointed out that a hotel that was not on the exclusion list had standard roo.s available for cash but not for points, and then the reps stumbled and bumbled trying to explain that the hotels can do whatever they want. Supposedly they contacted the hotel on my behalf and someone from the property was supposed to reach out to me, but it's been over a week and I haven't heard anything. I'm waiting on getting my Ambassador so that he or she can deal with this crap.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 9:45 pm
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I just have to reply to the previous posters who (to oversimplify) are claiming that SPG was wonderful and Marriott is ruining everything. My experience was SPG over the years ranged from lackluster to downright bad. I never got the benefits I was supposed to, and both individual properties and the corporate folks were either clueless, unhelpful, or both. Marriott has always treated me fairly, given me the published benefits without issue, and time and time again gone above and beyond the published benefits. If Marriott customer service is declining after the merger, from my perspective that's because Marriott is becoming SPG-ized, not the other way around.
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Old Aug 31, 18, 11:22 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by DJ_Iceman View Post
I just have to reply to the previous posters who (to oversimplify) are claiming that SPG was wonderful and Marriott is ruining everything. My experience was SPG over the years ranged from lackluster to downright bad. I never got the benefits I was supposed to, and both individual properties and the corporate folks were either clueless, unhelpful, or both. Marriott has always treated me fairly, given me the published benefits without issue, and time and time again gone above and beyond the published benefits. If Marriott customer service is declining after the merger, from my perspective that's because Marriott is becoming SPG-ized, not the other way around.
I was primarily a UA flyer during the UA+CO merger then switched to AA after the AA+US merger and what I see here with SPG and Marriott is quite similar to what I observed on the airline side of things. You have some folks that will blame any issue on the other party of the merger, declare that they are destroying the awesomeness that was their preferred per-merger party followed quickly by the folks on the other side who basically make the same arguments in the opposite direction. End of the day you simply cannot make everyone happy, change is disruptive and can be difficult to accept. SPG loyalists preferred SPG because they liked that program and the same goes for those that were loyal to Marriott. Most people will come to accept the changes eventaully, some will find other programs that work better for them and we will have a vocal group that will do neither of those and complain endlessly. Its just what it is...:/
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Old Sep 1, 18, 5:12 am
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If what the agent told the OP is true (and maybe itís not), that may even be worse than the previous policy
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Old Sep 1, 18, 5:52 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by DJ_Iceman View Post
I just have to reply to the previous posters who (to oversimplify) are claiming that SPG was wonderful and Marriott is ruining everything. My experience was SPG over the years ranged from lackluster to downright bad. I never got the benefits I was supposed to, and both individual properties and the corporate folks were either clueless, unhelpful, or both. Marriott has always treated me fairly, given me the published benefits without issue, and time and time again gone above and beyond the published benefits. If Marriott customer service is declining after the merger, from my perspective that's because Marriott is becoming SPG-ized, not the other way around.
The past two weeks couldn't have been written any more true to script about fears from the SPG folks...

What were these benefits that you never got that you were supposed to exactly?
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Old Sep 1, 18, 8:10 am
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Just another failure. Totally unacceptable. If the properties can do what they want then come out and say it . BE HONEST and change the t and c.
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