I’m extremely disappointed by the way that Marriott has handled the integration of their loyalty programs.
It’s sad, because at first I had high hopes. Not high hopes that I’d be happier as a Marriott Platinum member than a former SPG Platinum member, but rather I figured they’d at least do a good job managing expectations and delivering on what they promised, even if that wasn’t much.
After all, they were off to a strong start. When Marriott’s takeover of Starwood was announced, they introduced points transfers and status matching from day one, which was unprecedented.
Unfortunately they’ve done a significantly less impressive job ever since. Marriott’s IT has been a disaster, hotels have been left in the dark regarding how the new loyalty program is supposed to work, and as customers this sure doesn’t seem like the program we hoped for.
Marriott hotels making up their own rules
I’ve already written several times about Marriott hotels that just make up their own rules. The truth is that literally every day I get a message (or multiple messages) from readers pointing to Marriott hotels that are just making up their own rules. I don’t write about them constantly, because if I did, I’d rename this blog “One Marriott Hotel Making Up Its Own Rules At A Time.”
Let me just point to two that I’ve received in the past 24 hours.
When you go to a hotel’s booking page on marriott.com, you’ll often see that they list “notices.” This typically includes things like the hotel being under construction, a pool being temporarily closed, etc.
The Westin Whistler Resort & Spa now lists the following:
Please note-Please be advised that complimentary Rewards member upgrades will not be available during peak holiday periods.
Um, okay? It would help to clarify what exactly the “peak holiday period” is, or actually I guess it would help just to not make up your own rules.
This is very similar to what the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa did recently:
Please note – Marriott Rewards upgrades based on availability at check-in. Upgrades are granted to next room category not to suite.
In both cases, hotels are making up their own rules, in violation of the Marriott Rewards terms & conditions.
Then the St. Regis Maldives recently started stating the following on their website:
We’re sorry. This property is not taking redemption bookings at this time. You can either book a cash reservation or search for another reservation.
My take on this
Every time I write these posts, people ask “well did you reach out to Marriott, and what did they say?” These hotels are violating the rules, so when I reach out to Marriott these things usually get fixed, and they acknowledge the rules are being violated.
But the reality is that I’m getting these kinds of notices from readers every single day, and I’m not going to reach out to Marriott every single day.
To me this reflects the huge problem that Marriott has. They are now the world’s largest hotel group, with 6,700+ properties. They don’t actually need to be good, given how big they are, since it’s hard to avoid Marriott.
The much bigger problem, though, is that:
- The new program is really complicated, and as an expert on these programs I can barely keep up with how they’re supposed to work, so it’s no surprise that hotels struggle to understand the programs as well
- Based on what I’ve heard from people who work at Marriott properties, corporate has done virtually nothing to train people on the new program, on the upgrade policy, etc., and there’s no punishment when hotels aren’t compliant; so in many cases hotels don’t realize they’re breaking the rules
In other words, until Marriott starts managing their loyalty program proactively rather than reactively, this will continue.
(Tip of the hat to Alexander)