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A month on the road with Marriott Bonvoy

A month on the road with Marriott Bonvoy

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Old Mar 31, 19, 6:12 pm
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A month on the road with Marriott Bonvoy

Just wrapping up a road trip involving several hotels, while sitting in a Residence Inn in Northern Ohio. We're a couple of days from finishing up a month of travel that included 11 different Bonvoy properties varying between full-service and bottom end (including one twice), and I've been documenting various aspects of the trip, including any differences I've seen since moving from LTP to Titanium - whatever that means. Here's some observations FWIW...

Room upgrades: 2 out of 11. One was a Residence Inn upgrade to 2-bedroom suite - unnecessary for 2 people, but nice nonetheless. The other was a Studio from Standard King for 5 days on points - much appreciated. The other 9 properties = nothing, although cash upgrades were offered or available for as little as $8/night.

Status acknowledgment: 9 out of 11. Bonus points or lounge access offered. In one case bonus points did not post with rest of stay - not sure whether it's worth to pursue 500 points given current status of Customer Service.

Interesting things I learned: "Yes, Titanium status is the new intermediate level for those who did not requalify for Platinum this year. We still extend them the Platinum benefits. Better luck next year."

Spinning the wheel: Especially enjoyed the hotel where I got to spin a wheel as my Platinum bonus. Lowest value was the 500 points I would have received anyway, with alternate prizes of something from the mini-store or up to 1000 points. I got... wait for it... 500 points. The odd thing was that every guest got to do this. Not sure how this was a benefit.

Hotels I'd stay in again: 9 out of 11. In some cases local management outdoes corporate expectations, which makes a huge difference - especially in lower-end properties.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 6:26 pm
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Originally Posted by yyzflyer View Post
"Yes, Titanium status is the new intermediate level for those who did not requalify for Platinum this year. We still extend them the Platinum benefits. Better luck next year."
Classic!
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Old Mar 31, 19, 7:47 pm
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Originally Posted by yyzflyer View Post
...

Interesting things I learned: "Yes, Titanium status is the new intermediate level for those who did not requalify for Platinum this year. We still extend them the Platinum benefits. Better luck next year."

....
All Marriott Bonvoy employees should be required to know the progression of elite levels. The quotation above shows an inexcusable lack of training and lack of "cheat sheets" for hotel employees.

How hard would it be for Marriott to create brand-specific versions of elite tier chart (halfway down the the following page) and require all Marriott Bonvoy hotels to train their employees?

https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/member-benefits.mi

Brand-specific charts would provide an overviews of brand-specific Welcome Gift choices, brand-specific lounge rules (and alternatives), and other Elite benefits that vary by brand.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 9:06 am
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Originally Posted by yyzflyer View Post
Just wrapping up a road trip involving several hotels, while sitting in a Residence Inn in Northern Ohio. We're a couple of days from finishing up a month of travel that included 11 different Bonvoy properties varying between full-service and bottom end (including one twice), and I've been documenting various aspects of the trip, including any differences I've seen since moving from LTP to Titanium - whatever that means. Here's some observations FWIW...

Room upgrades: 2 out of 11. One was a Residence Inn upgrade to 2-bedroom suite - unnecessary for 2 people, but nice nonetheless. The other was a Studio from Standard King for 5 days on points - much appreciated. The other 9 properties = nothing, although cash upgrades were offered or available for as little as $8/night.

Status acknowledgment: 9 out of 11. Bonus points or lounge access offered. In one case bonus points did not post with rest of stay - not sure whether it's worth to pursue 500 points given current status of Customer Service.

Interesting things I learned: "Yes, Titanium status is the new intermediate level for those who did not requalify for Platinum this year. We still extend them the Platinum benefits. Better luck next year."

Spinning the wheel: Especially enjoyed the hotel where I got to spin a wheel as my Platinum bonus. Lowest value was the 500 points I would have received anyway, with alternate prizes of something from the mini-store or up to 1000 points. I got... wait for it... 500 points. The odd thing was that every guest got to do this. Not sure how this was a benefit.

Hotels I'd stay in again: 9 out of 11. In some cases local management outdoes corporate expectations, which makes a huge difference - especially in lower-end properties.
Oh, come on. You have to name the properties.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 9:32 am
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Originally Posted by Horace View Post
All Marriott Bonvoy employees should be required to know the progression of elite levels. The quotation above shows an inexcusable lack of training and lack of "cheat sheets" for hotel employees.

How hard would it be for Marriott to create brand-specific versions of elite tier chart (halfway down the the following page) and require all Marriott Bonvoy hotels to train their employees?

https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/member-benefits.mi

Brand-specific charts would provide an overviews of brand-specific Welcome Gift choices, brand-specific lounge rules (and alternatives), and other Elite benefits that vary by brand.
They do provide some sort of brand specific Elite Chart, I saw one with my own two eyes at the Jacksonville Marriott hanging on the back of the door which leads to back offices, it does not mean that the employee reads it however. As the Front Desk employee, said to my wife (she is Titanium) thanks for being an Elite with Marriott, if you keep staying at enough properties you can gain benefits such as lounge access which we grant to our most valuable guests, when my wife asked what level is that, she responded Platinum.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by kmersh View Post
They do provide some sort of brand specific Elite Chart, I saw one with my own two eyes at the Jacksonville Marriott hanging on the back of the door which leads to back offices, it does not mean that the employee reads it however. As the Front Desk employee, said to my wife (she is Titanium) thanks for being an Elite with Marriott, if you keep staying at enough properties you can gain benefits such as lounge access which we grant to our most valuable guests, when my wife asked what level is that, she responded Platinum.
It is definitely amazing that adding two new tier names didnít solve the problem. Maybe Platinum 50/75/100 that SPG used was the answer.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by kmersh View Post
They do provide some sort of brand specific Elite Chart, I saw one with my own two eyes at the Jacksonville Marriott hanging on the back of the door which leads to back offices, it does not mean that the employee reads it however. As the Front Desk employee, said to my wife (she is Titanium) thanks for being an Elite with Marriott, if you keep staying at enough properties you can gain benefits such as lounge access which we grant to our most valuable guests, when my wife asked what level is that, she responded Platinum.
Originally Posted by HHonors OUTSIDER View Post

It is definitely amazing that adding two new tier names didn’t solve the problem. Maybe Platinum 50/75/100 that SPG used was the answer.
In defense of the employees, Marriott has made two major changes to the loyalty program since August. I've seen these charts. The Marriott in Newport News, Virginia and the Delta in Baltimore, Maryland had full-size charts taped next to the front desk. If the program is so complicated they need a massive crib sheet then you can't blame a front desk clerk making $11 an hour getting it wrong. Even more so if the front desk clerk was taught for years that platinum was the highest level.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
In defense of the employees, Marriott has made two major changes to the loyalty program since August. I've seen these charts. The Marriott in Newport News, Virginia and the Delta in Baltimore, Maryland had full-size charts taped next to the front desk. If the program is so complicated they need a massive crib sheet then you can't blame a front desk clerk making $11 an hour getting it wrong. Even more so if the front desk clerk was taught for years that platinum was the highest level.
Yes, the program is very complicated for Marriott Bonvoy members. We must keep track of the benefits and rules for 30 Marriott brands (including one brand the does not participate at all), with geographic variations, distinctions between resort and non-resort properties, distinctions between convention and non-convention properties, alternatives based on whether the property has a lounge and whether it's open, complex differences in elite breakfast benefits, and even hotel-specific exceptions in the T&Cs. It's baffling that similar brands (such as Renaissance and Westin, or Courtyard and Four Points)) have different benefits and rules because of their histories.

But for each property, it should not be that difficult to provide property-specific training and reference materials to employees. It would not take a "massive crib sheet."

Kudos to the Marriott Hotel in Newport News, the Delta Hotel in Baltimore, and all other hotels that have made the effort to have knowledgeable employees.

Shame on the hotels whose employees think the Titanium is a lower status tier than Platinum — and that Titanium guests are thus less worthy of being upgraded. I blame management at those hotels, not the $11-an-hour employees.

Many interactions with the customer can be programmed into the computerized process that the front desk employee uses when checking in a guest. But the employee should still have an understanding of the elite tiers and benefits. It should not be difficult for an employee to understand that the order is, "non-member, member, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium, Ambassador."

When an employee doesn't even know that much, it suggests that management doesn't care about training or taking care of Marriott Bonvoy elite members properly.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Horace View Post
But for each property, it should not be that difficult to provide property-specific training and reference materials to employees. It would not take a "massive crib sheet."

Kudos to the Marriott Hotel in Newport News, the Delta Hotel in Baltimore, and all other hotels that have made the effort to have knowledgeable employees.
It may not require a massive crib sheet but that's what Marriott has provided the properties. I'm not comfortable with the properties interpreting the terms and conditions and developing their own training materials. Marriott should competently tell them what the benefits of each elite status mean in practice for their particular property as opposed to providing materials with grids that require extensive deciphering.

Originally Posted by Horace View Post
Shame on the hotels whose employees think the Titanium is a lower status tier than Platinum — and that Titanium guests are thus less worthy of being upgraded. I blame management at those hotels, not the $11-an-hour employees.

...

When an employee doesn't even know that much, it suggests that management doesn't care about training or taking care of Marriott Bonvoy elite members properly.
Of course, property management could do a better job, but why should they when Marriott clearly doesn't care? Moreover, these managers, at least at the majority of properties not managed by Marriott, work for a third-party management company that often manages other hotels flagged under competing brands and loyalty programs.

I know of one general manager who jointly manages a Courtyard, Holiday Inn, and Residence Inn. She may even manage the Best Western. All four hotels are within a couple blocks of each other. She doesn't have enough time in the day to become fully fluent in the different loyalty programs.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 1:25 pm
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Like some others, I've seen the big crib sheet MAR has provided to the properties. The property I saw it at had it next to the door in the back office that all the employees go through. MAR has also provided video training for the employees. However, not all FDC ($10-12/hr) are going to take the time inbetween checking in guests, responding to guest requests, to do the video training. But at minimum they should know the difference between the tiers. The property I saw the crib sheet at had a FDC that chirpily said thanks for being a Titanium member & for your loyalty to Marriott. We really appreciate it. You're going to get good FDCs who will take the time to learn the program & others who do the bare minimum.

Cheers.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 2:52 pm
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
It may not require a massive crib sheet but that's what Marriott has provided the properties. I'm not comfortable with the properties interpreting the terms and conditions and developing their own training materials. Marriott should competently tell them what the benefits of each elite status mean in practice for their particular property as opposed to providing materials with grids that require extensive deciphering.
I agree. That's why I suggested a simple grid, similar to the grid at https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/member-benefits.mi — but without any "varies by brand" nonsense or other ambiguities.

In other words, the grid would show the Welcome Gift choices, lounge access, late check-out, upgrade wording, and so on — for a hotel of that brand, that hotel type, that geographic region, and whether it has a lounge — without requiring interpretation.

There is no reason why Marriott could not provide such printed materials to hotels. Or, it would also be simple for a qualified programmer to develop a stand-alone application that generates such a grid from a few inputs.

A front desk employee at a full-service Marriott Hotel in Nebraska, for example, needs to be familiar with the elite benefits at that hotel and with how elite members fit onto the elite tier scale — but does not need to know the elite benefits at an Autograph Collection property in Greece or a W Hotel in China (only that not all hotels have the same benefits).

Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
Of course, property management could do a better job, but why should they when Marriott clearly doesn't care? Moreover, these managers, at least at the majority of properties not managed by Marriott, work for a third-party management company that often manages other hotels flagged under competing brands and loyalty programs.

I know of one general manager who jointly manages a Courtyard, Holiday Inn, and Residence Inn. She may even manage the Best Western. All four hotels are within a couple blocks of each other. She doesn't have enough time in the day to become fully fluent in the different loyalty programs.
That doesn't excuse a hotel that fails to provide elite benefits properly.

None of this is rocket science. It's just part of taking care of guests properly, adhering to brand standards, getting good reviews on TripAdvisor, and ultimately running a profitable hotel.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Horace View Post
I agree. That's why I suggested a simple grid, similar to the grid at https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/member-benefits.mi ó but without any "varies by brand" nonsense or other ambiguities.
They have the grid chart you linked to, but as you pointed out, it unnecessarily includes all brands and all regions as opposed to that specific property.

And it's truly massive. Like almost life-size. Certainly as big as a small kid or a midget.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 3:52 pm
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Originally Posted by yyzflyer View Post
Room upgrades: 2 out of 11. .. The other 9 properties = nothing, although cash upgrades were offered or available for as little as $8/night.
How did they justify offering you paid upgrades when you are entitled to them by status?
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Old Apr 1, 19, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
How did they justify offering you paid upgrades when you are entitled to them by status?
OP didn't name all of the brands - not every brand has a room upgrade benefit, nor are all rooms part of the eligible upgrade pool.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 5:17 pm
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Can't a manager take the big chart and duplicate the part that applies to his/her hotel in order to distribute the relevant information to his/her own front desk staff? It's not rocket science when you have the cheat sheet in front of you.
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