Update: This is just a reminder that these category changes kick in for bookings made as of Wednesday, March 4, 2020, so you have just a couple of days remaining to confirm bookings before the big price changes.
It’s normal for the major hotel programs to shift award categories annually (for example, World of Hyatt has announced category changes for 2020). Well, Marriott Bonvoy has just announced their category changes for 2020, and they’re the worst I recall seeing in a long time, or possibly ever?
Marriott 2020 hotel category adjustments
Every year Marriott also has award category adjustments. Essentially Marriott changes which hotels are in which categories, in order to reflect market conditions. In theory these categories are decided based on the cost Marriott incurs from redemptions there, which reflects both the average daily room rates and average occupancy.
Marriott has just released their full list of category changes for 2020, which kick in for bookings made as of March 4, 2020.
You still have about a month to make bookings at the old rates before the changes kick in — this is all about when you book, and not about when you stay.
Marriott’s category changes for 2020 are absolutely massive. About 29% of hotels will be changing in category:
- 7% of hotels are decreasing in price
- 22% of hotels are increasing in price
That means that net we’re seeing an increase in cost at 15% of all properties, and of those properties changing categories, over three quarters are going up in price.
For context, here’s Marriott’s award chart:
As a point of comparison, in 2019 only about 5% of hotels changed categories.
As Marriott describes these changes:
- Most of the 2020 annual category change movement (84%) takes place between categories 1-5 for a standard redemption stay.
- As a reminder, members who have either the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card receive one free night award worth up to 35,000 points every year after their account anniversary, which now will be redeemable at 89% of the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio during standard redemption rates.
- Members who have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card receive one free night award worth up to 50,000 points every year after their account anniversary, which now will be redeemable at 96% of the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio during standard rates.
The W Hotel Aspen is going down in category
These aren’t the only negative changes
It’s pretty incredible to see just how many Marriott hotels will be going up in award category, especially when you consider the other negative changes that have been made to award pricing:
- Marriott has just added capacity controls on standard room award redemptions at legacy Starwood properties
- Last year Marriott introduced peak and off peak award pricing, which greatly increased the cost of redemptions at many properties during peak periods
- It was only last year that Marriott introduced category 8 pricing
The Langley in the UK is going up in category
This is one of the most drastic annual award category changes we’ve seen from Marriott in a long time, as nearly 30% of hotels will be changing in cost, with over three quarters of those increasing in cost.
When you combine this with capacity controls on legacy Starwood hotels, as well as the introduction of peak redemptions in 2020, this is a really rough change.
It seems pretty clear to me that Marriott thinks their costs associated with award redemptions are simply too high, and they’re doing everything they can to control that.
Are there any hotels changing categories that particularly stand out to you?