Marriott is making major changes to its customer rewards program, Marriott Bonvoy, including the introduction of a flexible points redemption program starting in March.
“As travel continues to evolve, so do we,” Marriott said while making the announcement. “We understand that travel currently looks very different all over the world, and recovery is varying by region. We also know that you are looking for more flexibility and reassurance as you begin to travel again.”
Before the flexible points program kicks into gear, there are some immediate changes that will impact current members.
With the pandemic continuing to linger, Marriott announced this week that it is extending elite status for all members who have reached the plateau until February 2023. Normally, this status expires if it isn’t used for a 24-month period. But because travel has been impacted since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, many have not been able or willing to travel.
“Your 2019 earned status, which we already renewed through February 2022, or your 2020 status, will be extended through February 2023,” Marriott posted on Twitter. “You’ll continue to receive your Elite benefits when you travel again.”
This same theory applies to all bonus points members have acquired. These points normally have a 24-month use-or-lose window; a pause on points expiration is now in effect until the end of 2022.
As for the big change coming in March, Marriott is switching to a dynamic pricing chart, something most of the other major hotel chains already use in their loyalty programs.
The new program will more closely resemble hotel rates and give members more flexibility, Marriott claims, providing “more options when they are looking for the best redemption value.”
The new program means the elimination of the award chart categories currently used to group properties. Instead of set price points based on date of stay, point redemptions will now vary based on the prevailing cash rate for a room.
The reaction on Twitter was overwhelmingly negative from members of the program. Most complained that their points are being devalued.
“As a Titanium member [I’m] upset about these changes,” one user posted. “I really liked the peak and off-peak pricing … moving toward dynamic is a bad idea.”
“If I’m not interested in paying $500 a night for a typical $300 hotel, then I’m also not interested in paying 75,000 points instead of the usual 50,000,” another user posted. “I’ll simply stay somewhere else.”
But Marriott says redemption rates for more than 97 percent of its rooms will continue to range somewhere between current off-peak and peak rates, and less than 3 percent will have redemption rates in a higher range where they are currently.
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