In defense of Marriott Bonvoy

Old Feb 16, 20, 6:30 am
  #1  
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In defense of Marriott Bonvoy

Given the overwhelming negative sentiment towards Marriott since the merger both here and in the blogs, I thought I would post a contrarian thread - Iím actually preferring Marriott the most out of the major groups and Iím dedicating more of my travel to them as I get into my peak business travel years in my mid 30s (in prior years I was more of a free agent, staying with Hilton, Marriott, Starwood somewhat equally). I do stay at all of the major brands, plus boutiques, but I am making a push towards Platinum status this year (I think I did 35 or so total nights last year across brands and will be closer to 50-60 this year, maybe more). Iím choosing to focus on Marriott, and here is why:

1) Many more high quality hotels where I travel. This is the most obvious benefit. On a recent business trip, I had five or six Marriott choices right around a conference I was attending (the conference hotel itself was sold out). There was one, older Hilton property nearby and zero Hyatt hotels. I find this situation pretty regularly in many cities in the US, Europe, etc. Needless to say my $1,200, three night stay went to Marriott. Itís easy to just check for Marriotts where I need to be and find a quality, full service property.

2) A wide variety of brands for a wide variety of needs. Across the brand families, my favorite brands are Edition, W, Autograph, Luxury Collection, JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Waldorf, Doubletree, Conrad, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Andaz. Clearly a wide variety. The point is that Marriott has is all covered. Whether I need a quick suburban Courtyard stay near my grandparents, a luxury stay in Hong Kong, a business stay in Nashville, a vacation stay in London, I have a Marriott available, often built in the last few years.

3) Competitive earnings on paid stays. Iím currently a lowly Gold and get 12.5 points per dollar. I earned about 19,000 points on a recent stay. A lot of people say this earning structure is weak - it seems comparable to Hilton Gold and better than Hyattís second tier status (Iím only comparing status that is available by simply holding a credit card). The other two do have better bonuses - depending on where I am with elite status, I will divert stays to Hilton/Hyatt/IHG if they do have bonuses

4) Solid elite benefits, especially at Platinum. Platinums get breakfast, lounge access (Marriott has the most lounges globally), better earnings structure and late checkout. This is a pretty meaningful set of benefits at the 35/50 night level. Upgrades are the sore point here - Hilton and Hyatt to offer better paths to upgrades. But I donít really need suites on business travel. For leisure travel, I can just book directly into the room I want if paying cash.

5) It is easy to get benefits at other chains without being loyal to them. A lot of people say they switch to Hilton. Why? I have had excellent experiences at Hilton hotels recently, including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, LXR, Doubletree and others. However I received those experiences simply by holding an Amex Platinum. All you really need to have a strong experience at Hilton is Gold, and they give that away with a $95 credit card. It is easy to buy points with Hilton as well though sales. Hyatt is more of an obvious case with excellent treatment on the high end. However, it is easy to spend your way to Hyatt stays with a Chase Sapphire Reserve; for the leisure Hyatt stays I need, I can always transfer at rates that are attractive. So for me, it makes sense to put my business travel spend towards Marriott as I earn the points I need and get the stay credits I need

Overall Iíve enjoyed earning and burning with Marriott over the last two years. Bonvoy has made it significantly easier to earn points through paid stays, and I am enjoying the expanded footprint. Even things like Bonvoy Experiences seem worthwhile (Iím redeeming for hockey suite tickets soon). Hyatt seems like it is the most obvious choice for those seeking that SPG-like attention - however there
simply arenít enough of them (and for limited service stays, Hyatt seems inferior to Hilton or Marriott). For those with diverse travel needs, Marriott seems to be a great choice
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Old Feb 16, 20, 7:01 am
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To add to your number 4, for me, Hyatt Globalist is not attainable as I a) no longer have business travel and b) travel places where Hyatt has no property. I just barely make Plat at Marriott with the 15 elite nights via CC. Thus I devote almost all stays to Marriott. I would think there are plenty of folks in this tier of semi-frequent travelers (30ish nights a year) and Marriott seems a decent choice.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 7:23 am
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Marriott now reminds me of United circa 2012-2013 - all the "bones" of a possible industry leader are there post merger (be it great business markets or a wide array of properties/brands globally). Yet for UA, customer service hit the skids and the IT backbone was atrocious (thank you very much SHARES for a multi-year nightmare). Kind of like Marriott the past 18 months.

United has come a long way since then - SHARES has become workable, customer service almost as good as the PMUA days some times.

Remains to be seen if Marriott will make the same improvements - not seeing evidence of it yet frankly.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 7:36 am
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Marriott has been great to me, I go out of my way to stay at their properties. Traveling mostly in Asia, Iím spoilt for choice in the places I go (with the exception of Japan). Service is always decent to good and I always get lounge access and breakfast. Free food and booze for staying at their hotels makes it hard for me to fault them.

And once or twice a year I have enough points to stay somewhere really nice for a week like a resort in Hawaii or a hotel in downtown London or Paris.

I could care less about getting upgrades to suites or having a manager greet me upon arrival. Give me the room, the lounge access and throw a few points my way. Iím happy and I stay loyal because of it.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 7:38 am
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@Adelphos

Well said. But a lot people beg to differ.

A lot of people, particularly the former SPG loyalists, were married to the beloved SPG program. Now they are facing the nasty divorce. Even the lifetime status can't keep them with Marriott.

As for me, I'm not married to a single hotel program. Ever before the Marriott + SPG merge on 8/18/2018, I've been planning the migration from the Marriott to other programs. I'm going to use my last TPs, convert points to airlines and cancel most of my CCs. I may still want to earn the Platinum for next year. But if I only stay with Marriott for a few days per year, it is not worth the effort to keep it going forward.

People are just afraid Marriott will continue to devalue its loyalty program next year and the years beyond. It can do whatever it wants. No one can stop them. The records say Marriott does not even care for the loyalty members. To me, the point value dropped from north of 1 cpp to about 0.065 cpp. Also, the credit card FN paper were further devalued. There are hardly any desirable hotels with 35,000 points or less.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 7:50 am
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And to build on my above note - I do think Marriott did really well by "us" (loyal SPG types) prior to 8/18. The 3:1 point conversion wasn't guaranteed, so that worked out well. They kept a lot of the SPG program touches too (SNAs, Ambassador level, in theory Your24, etc.) So some of that was a pleasant surprise - could have been a lot worse.

However - the decline of customer service and ongoing atrocity of their IT post-8/18/18 are simply inexcusable.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:11 am
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To me, it is not customer service or IT issues. It is the constant point devaluation. Look at the past program devaluations:

8/18/2018: official Marriott/SPG merge. SPG impact was minimal. But premier Marriott properties got hit hard. Ritz Carlton hotels got expensive
3/5/2019: annual category changes and actual category 8 in effect. Wholesale level point increases. Big devaluation across the board.
9/14/2019: peak and off-peak in effect. Changes are more skewed to peak point valuation. Effective devaluation. CC FN certificates are devalued to lower categories.
3/4/2020: annual category changes. More dramatic and wholesale level devaluation.

In just about 1.5 years, the Marriott/SPG/RC loyalty program has had radical changes. The points are worth much less than before. CC FN also loses value considerably.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:12 am
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Yay. Another thread that will turn into a Bonvoy-bashing fest.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:14 am
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It should not be. Just some facts....
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:19 am
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We'll see.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:25 am
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Hey, I actually said some nice things about Marriott for a change

They are doing well on the harder things "outside their control" so to speak (locations / brands - those exist, they are well positioned and diverse). That takes time and resources to build up. Kudos for now being in this spot.

But they are not doing so well on things fully "in their control" (IT and CS) - that should be easier to change. Just takes a bit of C-suite leadership, which is of course lacking at the moment.

Marriott is kind of like the current version of AA, the more I think about it...
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:25 am
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Agree on 1 and 2
No comment on 3

And for 4, partly I agree, some property did their best and make elites stay memorable.
Some seems to try hardest to ignore elites.
5. Not everyone have the opportunity of getting elite level through card.
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:25 am
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Originally Posted by txpenny View Post
Yay. Another thread that will turn into a Bonvoy-bashing fest.
The goal is to present some strong points of the program. Seems like a lot of people are still getting value and good experiences out of it
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:36 am
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What I see is that a lot of people are not married to certain loyalty programs. There are never absolute loyalty. It is two-way street. Members constantly evaluation what the loyalty programs offer to them. If we spend $10,000 on hotel CCs or $5,000 with certain hotel, we want to know how much we get back in return. We go to the "best" program that we see offer the most we want. This is how loyalty program is supposed to work.

The bottom line is still the valuation. Then the next are geographic location, convenience and hotel specifics...
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Old Feb 16, 20, 8:37 am
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I hate the devaluations but I rarely stay on points so it doesnít much matter to me. I just want Marriottís IT to work properly so I donít have to call in to get points and nights to post or free night certs. Just provide what you say youíll provide. I have had decent luck with upgrades. My main issues are:

1. most of my stays are at RC/StR type properties and over the last ~5 years I would say the quality of these top end properties has been heading downhill. If you are going to position these brands as top of the market options, make them feel that way.

2. make stays at those type of properties count for more nights, like flying biz or first on airlines gives you an EQM multiplier. It makes no sense that if I spend 35 paid nights in hotels plus 15 credit card nights and spend $20k I am ďless eliteĒ and have lower upgrade priority behind someone who spent $7,500 on 75 $100 nights at a bottom tier property. Which one of us in a more valuable customer? I think pre-merger RC nights counted for 2x, there should be a carve out of top end properties that count 2x. This would also make the sky high redemption rates more palatable.
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