Marriott Adds Category 9 Hotels; Devalues Points
Marriott has announced some changes to its Marriott Rewards loyalty program which will have the effect of diminishing the value of each Marriott point. Instead of dividing hotels into 8 categories (of various point values from 7,500 to 40,000 points), Marriott will add Category 9 hotels, which will require 45,000 points per night. Previously, rooms at these hotels could be redeemed for 40,000 points. Luckily, the list of Category 9 hotels is fairly small at present:
- Boston Marriott Long Wharf
- Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
- London Marriott Hotel County Hall
- London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
- Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
- London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
- St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
- JW Marriott Essex House
- New York Marriott Marquis
- Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
- Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees
- Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel
- Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel
36% of Hotels Will Now Require More Points
In addition to adding Category 9 hotels, Marriott re-examined each hotel’s current category. Marriott does this every year. This year, fully 36% of all hotels will move up one or more categories and will now require more points. Marriott explains that “a hotel’s category may change as part of the review based on the number of redemption nights that had been booked at the property during the prior year.” Presumably this means that if a hotel was very popular as a choice for redemptions, Marriott would then consider raising the category and thus, the number of points required.
Only about 1% will move down a category. Overall, this is a fairly significant de-valuing of each Marriott Rewards point. Here’s a list of all the changes.
Book by May 15 to Avoid Points Increase
If you’re planning on redeeming your Marriott points in the next 50 weeks, you can still avoid the program changes if you book by May 15, 2013. You don’t even need to have all the required points yet. Marriott explains:
As always, you may book redemption reservations up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required points in your account – although the points must be earned prior to your stay. For example, on May 1, 2013, you are able to book your hotel redemption stay as far out as April 16, 2014. Our newest booking tool, Cash + Points, can be used to redeem for stays as well.
Devaluations are Fairly Common in Loyalty Programs
There types of program changes have become fairly commonplace in both the hotel and airline industries. It’s a way for companies to account for price inflation. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to like it! In this case, at least Marriott has given us advance notice and the allowance to do advance booking to avoid the devaluation.