Bonvoy: Marriott’s Global Marketing Officer Resigns

Filed Under: Marriott, Media

It seems we can say bon voyage to the marketing executive behind Marriott Bonvoy.

Karin Timpone Resigns As Marriott Global Marketing Officer

It has just been announced that Karin Timpone, Marriott’s global marketing officer, will be retiring at the end of 2019 to “pursue new opportunities.” 

Timpone has been at Marriott since 2013, and led the company’s marketing around the new Bonvoy program, which officially launched earlier this year.

As Timpone explained to AdWeek in an interview a while back:

“One of the things we determined over the last few years is that the relationship we want to have with our customer is really about an ongoing, loyal two-way dialogue that is best summed up through our loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy.”

Five-and-a-half years ago, the company didn’t have classic acquisition marketing in place. Timpone said it “tripled our audience since then, but we’ve fundamentally changed the voice, the way we go to market, how we integrate and promote our brands, how we think of the lifecycle of a customer, and then now adding on storytelling on travel to it. It’s the face of a real customer relationship.”

In the announcement about this development, Marriott has credited Timpone with “transforming Marriott’s marketing capabilities, introducing next-generation marketing technologies, cutting-edge marketing partnerships and travel storytelling.”

What Should We Make Of This Announcement?

We never get the full story of why someone is leaving with announcements like this. The way I see it, there are three most likely scenarios:

  • Marriott hasn’t been happy with the execution of the marketing of Bonvoy, and she was asked to leave
  • Timpone decided that she accomplished what she was going to accomplish at Marriott, and it was time to move on/find a new challenge
  • Timpone has another opportunity elsewhere

Many of us haven’t been happy with the launch of Marriott Bonvoy, to put it mildly — the new program is incredibly complex, IT has been terrible, hotels have been playing games with members, and so much more.

However, very little of that is Timpone’s fault, but rather that would fall more on those working in loyalty and technology.

I imagine Timpone is behind the Bonvoy name, though. Personally I don’t get it and don’t like it, and over time the term “Bonvoyed” has been used to refer to just about anything negative happening.

That being said, it’s hardly the most egregious thing we’ve seen from Marriott, and it seems that Marriott is happy with the Bonvoy name (for whatever reason)?

So my guess is that Timpone is moving on either because she has another opportunity elsewhere, or because she grew frustrated by Marriott in its current form.

But that’s just my two cents…

I’ll be curious to see who takes Timpone’s spot, and if we see any changes to Marriott’s marketing strategy as a result.

  1. Most of the people who are unhappy witn Marriott Bonvoy are the free loaders who acquired lifetime status through the generous business trips their companies where always paying in Full.

    You can recognize them coming with their extended family and kids on weekends making a hell lot of noise in executive lounges.

    It is a great thing that their lifetime status in Platinum has disappeared.

    Now if you really want lifetime Platinum, you’re gonna have to work and pay for it. Kudos to Marriott Bonvoy

  2. Hi Stanley,

    I don’t understand why you say that “if one really wants lifetime Platinum, one has to work and pay for it”; while the people above that acquired lifetime status through the generous business trips their companies where always paying in Full” do not count.

    Weren’t they working? Weren’t their stays payed? (Regardless if the source of the money was their own pockets or their companies P&L)

    Hope you can clarify it, because your point might not sound logical…

  3. @Stanley that has to be one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever read. You think most people with lifetime status are doing it on their own dime? Nonsense.

  4. The cluelessness of these millennial marketing mavens is something to behold: “travel storytelling”, “ genuine interactions with customers” and other spinmeister, meaningless weasel talk.
    Hyatt and Hilton don’t engage in this never-ending BS ( and certainly not IHG or Accor). Why does Marriott persist with this generational change claptrap. Looking on the bright side, perhaps her departure means they will go back to the basics of loyalty: reward, recognition, value, rather than assuming there is a huge difference between boomers, millennials and Gen X, Y, Z in respect of attitude to travel.
    I want bang for my loyalty buck ( and that means value adding, not an opportunity to go dancing with wolves, making petit fours with Paul Bocuse or going to some ghastly concert, as per the emails from Marriott that I no longer even read).

  5. Step 1: use the merger to devalue points in both programs for cost savings.

    Step 2: create all-new program but don’t bother defending the cuts to the program. Also, an absurd name is a bonus!

    Step 3: wait about a year then pretend you had no idea customers were so upset with terrible new program. Apologize profusely, promise “things will go back to the way they were” and rename program to be similar to old name. (Marriott Preferred Guest?)

    Just waiting for step 3….

  6. Hey Karin: Bon-voy! Bon-voy! Bon-voy! Taken from one of the stupidest ads I’ve ever seen to promote the stupidest name I’ve ever seen for major loyalty program. Everything about it is a drastic downgrade from Marriott Rewards. Great job there. Not only does it sound dorky as hell but it is convoluted, awkward, and frankly has pissed off thousands of formerly loyal customers. But at least you’ve invented the phrase “being Bonvoyed”. Which I hope you were, on the way out.

    So, Bon-voy to you Karin….or just buh-bye!

  7. Marriott wasted millions (perhaps $20 million?) on the launch of its unified loyalty program to replace Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood’s SPG. That was a tremendous waste of money when it could have called the program Marriott Guest Rewards or Marriott Preferred Guest Rewards. Yes, that’s not as elegant as the fake word Bonvoy but it would have saved a lot of money by combining two names that had significant name recognition among consumers. Moreover, the launch of Bonvoy coincided with not only epic failures on the part of Marriott to adequately prepare for the merger and re-launch but utterly dismissive statements by the CEO, who clearly showed the only customers he cares about are hotel owners and not hotel guests. I can only hope that the Marriott family retains some involvement and is aware of the widespread complaints and issues, all of which the CEO dismissed as noise around the edges or however he put it. I recognize that sadly the Marriotts longer run the company on a day-to-day, executive basis but let’s hope that this a sign that the board and shareholders, if not the Marriott family, put pressure on corporate leadership to get things right.

  8. I never really had any particular problem with or love for Marriott properties. Whether I stayed in one or not was a result of location, need, and timing. Then, after all the Bonvoy CRAP began, I started being absolutely HAMMERED with Marriott (Timeshare) telemarketing spam calls. After literally dozens of calls, I finally managed to get them to stop only by wasting as much of the spammer’s time per call as possible and telling her that, as long as she continued to call, I would continue to waste as much of her time (with pointless questions, etc.) as possible. Now, I go out of my way to avoid *ever* staying at any Marriott property. Doing so means no more spamcall flooding.

  9. Almost forgot, looks like many people are having to deal with “Bonvoy” problems. If you haven’t seen it, there are so many that a stand-alone (3rd party) website for the issues has been created:

    The fact that it exists might be amusing if it weren’t for the Ice Cream Headache factor that Marriott has created.

  10. The hotel chain is overrated and so is Karin. They should have dumped her long before they spent all that money on the Bonvoy branding and the rest of the program. I’m glad Chase at least let me downgrade my card to a no fee Bonvoy Bold (yet another stupid name).

  11. And still to this day of you type in http://www.bonvoy.con (remember it doesn’t go to Marriott!!!
    Huge marketing fail!
    When you merge to large companies of brands…you want to create a sense of belonging especially to the brands being acquired. No, you MUST log onto Marriott to access your Bonvoy account . Stupid

  12. Oops I stand corrected! Apparently they finally registered but it wasn’t working last week ! Hmmm…

  13. I have trouble even conjuring up the desire to stay with their annual free nite certs at this point.

    Seriously, that word and their hapless transition attempts will be studied for years in bidness schools as a classic example of where did things go wrong.

    Bonvoy that, marriott-spinmeisters.

    (and another vote for Dan, too).

  14. Can we please give @Paolo his dues. He deserves at least a runner up award for his image of millennials dancing with wolves…Every generation will have its comeuppance :-). Thank you Paolo!

  15. Don’t blame millennials for this… She was not a millennial. BonVoy is pure baby boomer genX BS attempting to sound edgy.

  16. It’s funny that everyone mentions TPG because when I read this I thought maybe she will go work there…time for him to pay her back for taking him to the Oscars.

  17. @Paolo. Right on. Whenever I fly JetBlue now, I have to be subjected to the tedious Bonvoy ad, many times twice. It’s so condescending and pandering to Gen Y and all the cool hipster experiences I’m missing because I’m a GenXer with kids.

    JetBlue, you’re lowering yourself by taking their $$$ and pandering to them.

  18. Who actually ran Bonvoy, her or Flueck? Bonvoy and its legacy predecessors have been devalued 4 times in 18 months. People forget they’ve re-categorized properties or pricing schemes four separate times since January 2018.

  19. I am a corporate sales manager for a franchised Marriott hotel and changing the Rewards to the new Bonvoy loyalty program has been a nightmare. We had hours of training to take. There is a 150 page document about benefits etc. Which has about 15 pages of revisions. I have a lot of great corporate clients spending a lot of money at Marriott hotels saying they feel devalued. In an effort to help them I have made numerous calls to the Bonvoy support line for hotels and no one there seems to understand the new loyalty program either. They give you a different answer everytime you call. I would like to stress this is not the hotel’s decision it is controlled by Marriott International. We value our guests and their loyalty but I have to agree with them the new Bonvoy program is a slap in the face to the most loyal Marriott guests.

  20. Yes @ Dan for the win.

    Paolo, indeed it’s been a long time since I came across such well crafted BS. Now that take talent.

  21. I loved SPG (Gold) hardly ever had an issue and when I did they always graciously fixed it with a substantial point gifting. I haven’t stepped in foot of a Marriott property since the merger yet it’s been a time waister ever since just to manage the remaining reward points before exiting the program. After using a 7 night miles and points cert in Turkey later this month I’ll be saying goodbye to the program by redeeming my last 60000 points for airlines miles. Good bye Bonvoy -you will NOT be missed! As far as the AX card, it will be canceled too as they already tried to cheat me out of my annual free night award (my most recent but last case of Bonvoyeditis).

  22. @LOYALTY: Thanks for the input. Maybe you could confidentially leak some documents to Ben or Gary Leff so they could write about this. There are ways to do that so it can’t be traced back to you. I think this would be very beneficial. I basically live in hotels for work. Like 200+ nights per year. I repeatedly see how one department in corporate Marriott doesn’t talk to another or fights the other department. For example, the hotel development and hotel management divisions/department have consistently pushed back against loyalty division/department over the definition of “breakfast” for guests with elite status. You have Marriott-managed properties that are intentionally breaking the rules, if not the letter certainly the spirit. But loyalty doesn’t have any tools to force compliance and hotel development only cares about getting new customers. Likewise, hotel management only cares about keeping its contract with the owner. I imagine the situation is similar with franchised properties managed by third parties. There are lots of good third-party operators but there are also lots of third-party operators that cheat and game the system. The fact that so many property sales managers, like yourself, are offering triple points for meetings and events since February or March tells me that Bonvoy has been a disaster, especially for meetings and events. There is ZERO incentive for event planners and corporate clients to do meetings and events at Marriott anymore since the benefits for meetings and events have been gutted and the spending doesn’t count — not even a fraction of it — for ambassador status.

  23. Ms Timpone certainly boasts all the Marriott rhetoric. She talks about “relationship”, “voice” and “the life-cycle of a customer”. I have been attempting a “two-way dialogue” with Marriott for years – and still Marriott remains silent. Which is why a hunger strike will begin in less than two weeks time to point out the hypocrisy and wrongdoing of the entire Marriott Corporation. How much longer do you expect “the life-cycle of [this] customer” to be, Ms Timpone?

    A final open letter to Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International Inc [MAR] – “A Lie or a Life?”

  24. @Ryan’s comment is “spot on” imho and @ Stanley’s comment shows he is absolutely clueless. I am Lifetime Platinum by being a fmr SPG Lifetime Platinum, one who went out of his way to avoid Marriott properties. I paid for 10 yrs of SPG Plat status out of my own pocket, not reimbursed by some company or client. I was the type that Arne said was a main reason for their acquiring Starwood. I hate Bonvoy, despite now being a Titanium. The entire program is a cluster…It has made my opinion of Marriott even lower, and my opinion of @Dan even higher with his comment.

  25. @FNT Delta Diamond thank you. I appreciate that you have a very clear understanding of the hospitality business these days. Now it is basically a real estate investment. I have had 5 owners and management companies in 17 years. Today I had 25 Titanium guests check in from what a know is a HUGE multi million dollar account for Marriott International as well as one of my personal top accounts at the hotel. After endless conversation with the Marriott help desk we found out they do not even get their welcome points or gift because their rooms are billed to a master account. So this is the new Titanium arrival apparently. Way to welcome them and thank them for their business and loyalty! They don’t get points or nights either because the rooms are billed to the master but I am shocked that as Titanium members they are not even entitled to the arrival. I imagine this will reflect poorly in GSS scores for the hotel and maybe the Marriott brand. Maybe then they will realize what a huge mistake it was but by then it might be too late. It’s a lot easier to take care of people and treat them right than it is to win them back. If I were Hilton or Hyatt I would capitalize on the Bonvoy debacle now. I have Ben’s email and I will reach out. Thanks for the suggestion. I am passionate about making sure our guests are rewarded for their loyalty.

  26. Ditto, Ditto, a thousand times Ditto: Many of us haven’t been happy with the launch of Marriott Bonvoy, to put it mildly — the new program is incredibly complex, IT has been terrible, hotels have been playing games with members, and so much more.

    And Ditto again: hotels have been playing games with members, and so much more.

  27. I wonder Marriott is now starting to fall under it’s own weight with all this change so rapidly. I will be honest that it’s nice to have all these different properties that I can choose as opposed to trying to keep track across multiple sites and platforms.

    Recent stay at Le Meridian in Denver was fantastic. And I’m glad I can use a free night cert for the W New Orleans which I couldn’t before since SPG didn’t offer those. Of course, I’m no longer a high flier and my gold lifetime status is fine with me. Not many perks, but the hotel people are really great to me every time no matter which hotel I stay.

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