Marriott Suspends Ambassador Elite Service

Filed Under: Marriott

Marriott has temporarily cut the biggest perk for their top tier elite members, and I guess I can’t blame them?

What is Marriott Ambassador Elite status?

Ambassador Elite is Marriott Bonvoy’s top tier status, which requires earning 100 elite nights plus spending $20,000 “qualifying” dollars with the company in a given year.

Really there are two incremental perks for this over Titanium Elite (which requires 75 elite nights with no spending requirement):

  • You get Ambassador service, where you have a single point of contact at Marriott who helps you with anything you need, and looks after your stays
  • You get Your24, giving you flexible check-in and check-out times, as subject to availability you can check in anytime and stay for 24 hours

I was Ambassador Elite through 2019, and had an awesome Ambassador, though I know many people didn’t have great experiences with their point of contact. This year I’m “only” Titanium Elite, though.

Marriott suspends personalized Ambassador Elite service

Marriott has contacted Ambassador Elite members to inform them that Marriott’s typical customized Ambassador Elite service is being suspended until further notice. Instead members are being directed to contact the “shared” Ambassador Elite phone number and email address, which obviously isn’t nearly as personalized.

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that:

Marriott explains that this is because many Ambassadors work in contact centers that have been required to close due to being nonessential.

Here’s Marriott’s letter to Ambassador Elite members about this:

As an Ambassador Elite member, you are among our most loyal and valued members. As such, I wanted to reach out personally to keep you updated on the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on our company and our program. You may have seen a message from our CEO, Arne Sorenson, in which he shared his thoughts about how much our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event, and how much we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments around the world that are on the front line working to contain this coronavirus. I hope you and your family are taking precautions and remain healthy.

Today, governments around the world are making decisions to halt nonessential business activity, and many of our Ambassadors work from contact centers around the globe that have been required to close. As a result, we have adapted the way we deliver the Ambassador Service to you, while enabling us to protect the health and safety of our associates worldwide.

As we continue to react to the unfolding situation, your personal Ambassador may not be available to assist you directly. To preserve the level of service we strive to deliver to Ambassador Elite members, we have engaged our global Ambassador Service team to respond to and address your needs, just as we do after-hours when your personal Ambassador is not working. This approach will help us ensure you get the timeliest response to any travel needs you may have.

We know many of you will miss the one-on-one relationship you may have built or were looking forward to building with your Ambassador this year. While this decision was necessitated by the fight against COVID-19, please know we are committed to returning to business-as-usual when it is safe to do so and permitted by governments. Expect to hear from us again soon, with news about program updates, including 2020 Elite status requirements.

Whether you are traveling now or in the future, I want you to know that your safety, as well as that of our associates, is a top priority. Despite these current hardships, our Ambassador team around the world is waiting to serve you.

Updates to Marriott elite requirements?

Perhaps this is as good of a post as any to address this in. Just a couple of days ago Hilton Honors announced that they’d essentially extend status for everyone by a year, either based on stay activity in 2018 or 2019.

This was clearly intended as a goodwill gesture to generate loyalty once things start to go back to normal, since it’s all based on past activity.

What are the odds that Marriott matches? Personally I think quite small. I’d be very surprised to see Marriott just extend status for everyone that they’ve downgraded just now, and to extend status by another year for those who have it now.

The note to Ambassador Elite members does say:

Expect to hear from us again soon, with news about program updates, including 2020 Elite status requirements.

I continue to believe that they’ll announce promotions and/or reduced elite requirements for 2020, I would just be surprised to see them outright extend status for everyone.

Bottom line

Marriott is suspending personalized Ambassador Elite service until further notice. With the company furloughing two thirds of corporate staff and with travel way down right now, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

I do hope that they restore the service once things start to return to normal. I’ll also be anxiously waiting to see how they adjust elite requirements.

What are you expecting from Marriott in terms of elite requirements for this year?

Comments
  1. These services are downright stupid. They provide no benefit. Hyatt has this and its a complete joke. Why do you need to call in? Just use the app… if you do need to call in , the Ambassador people cant really take care of everything anyway.

  2. This headline is so incredibly misleading and inaccurate (being an ambassador guest myself who also received the whole email). You keep defending yourself recently with your over sensationalized headlines and it’s got to stop. Be part of the solution and not the problem.

  3. @ IntlBizTraveler — How is this misleading and inaccurate? Literally the biggest perk of Ambassador status is “Your personal point of contact is always at your service for every stay.”

    Access to a shared phone number is no different than the service provided to Platinums, Titaniums, etc. I specifically wrote the headline to be accurate and not sensational.

  4. @Ryan I have found the Hyatt service to be incredibly valuable, especially if things go sideways with my travel plans.

  5. I have a feeling that Marriott will ultimately extend the CURRENT status of members, I can see no reason why they would reinstate status for those who have already lost it. That would be going back two years and rewarding many people that have already decided not to pursue Bonvoy elite status. I just don’t see it happening.

  6. This piece is inaccurate. Ben read the whole letter, it says “your personal ambassador MAY NOT be available to assist you directly”. I just spoke to my ambassador yesterday and she is out of the Omaha office which is still open. I know some centers like Salt Lake and Wichita have closed but others are still open, hence the words MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE.

    You should do the right thing and change some things including your misleading title here because it’s not accurate.

  7. @Mikey

    Just because they’re open now doesn’t mean they’re not going to be closed shortly. All it takes is one worker at those locations to shut em down.

  8. Ambassador here….received my email yesterday. Obviously not a big deal….this is not a valuable benefit. Was highly unlikely to requalify this year before COVID. Now I’m hoping Marriott follow Hilton’s lead and extend status through 2021.

  9. @Jon

    I get that but nowhere does the email state that the Ambassador program is suspended. Again YOUR ambassador MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE means exactly that. Some members will have to call the general number and others won’t.

  10. How is eliminating ambassador personalized service “fighting” coronavirus as Flueck complained?

    Don’t forget. They recently eliminated a special telephone number for lower level elites. It’s not like they needed special agents at that number. It could have just dumped into the general line. But optics matter.

    Marriott should focus on adding real benefits to ambassador whenever we come out of this because for most people there is no meaningful difference between titanium and ambassador. 90% of hotels don’t care and don’t provide any recognition, unless your ambassador agent bugs them to put a plate of cubed cheese in your room. I say that as someone who has had ambassador status for 4 years.

  11. I’m still on-the-road, staying at a Marriott-managed hotel as part of a 250-night stay. Corporate has suspended daily housekeeping across all brands. If you need service you can get it once per week. It is the housekeeping manager doing the service. All the housekeepers are gone. The assistant GM and GM are working the front desk. There are almost no other employees to be seen anywhere.

  12. I guess I will be the first to make the joke that Marriott really “suspended” the Ambassador service starting in August 2018.

  13. I am sure Marriott has exact numbers but my expectation is that there is a significant drop in Bomvoy Ambassadors traveling or planning to travel right now. It is a simple business decision to decrease the number of agents working the Ambassador lines to save some cash.

  14. This headline is incredibly deceptive. I am a longtime Ambassador elite from the SPG days.

    Ambassador service has NOT been suspended. It merely has been pared down A BIT due to the massive pandemic circumstances that have caused an unprecedented drop in travel (and concomitant hotel stays) among all elites, including those with Ambassador status.

    I emailed my Ambassador on Monday and received her auto-response that she was unavailable for the next weeks and that I should contact the global Ambassador team. As I was only checking to see if she was OK, I didn’t bother. Yet not an hour or two later, another member of the global Ambassador team replied to me, thanking me for my email of concern and asking if I needed any assistance with anything.

    Sorry, but just because my Ambassador assistance is coming from another Ambassador doesn’t mean the service has been suspended.

    It is true that many Ambassador agents have been furloughed, obviously to ease the costs for Marriott and to protect the health and safety for those employees. Of course, with so few Ambassador elites traveling, there also is less demand for as many Ambassador agents to be available to us, too.

    I applaud Marriott’s handling of my Ambassador agent and of the Ambassador service during this unprecedented crisis. Please stop lying about how the service has been suspended. Wow.

  15. Bill – yes, you have the Unicorn Ambassador as I always said on FT – it helps that you drove added group-level revenue to Marriott. You have never had a “typical” Ambassador experience, probably have special handling. No need to come to the endless defense of Marriott, just enjoy what you have.

    I know in the VERIFIED Facebook group, all is roses eternally w/Marriott!!!

  16. Lucky, I think the bigger issue than questioning me is to understand that, across quite a few articles in the past few months your loyal readers have been commenting on and requesting that you adjust your publishing style.

    Yet, every time someone brings up the issue you get extremely confrontational, likely because your SEO insights are telling you that your hyberbolic headlines get more clicks than others.

    Congrats on selling out.

  17. The way i see it, some tough times are to be expected for all Travel companies
    if some of you guys are ready lets pool some funds together and create a company that we would call very creatively SPG- take some of the brands from Marriott: like Sheraton, Le Meridien, Westin,.. and make a new Loyalty programs- i think a Purple background would fit well to the brand..
    what do you think guys

  18. Being a former employee of Marriott and with the Elite Service Desk… don’t hold your breath. Marriott is not what is was before taking on Starwood.
    We wanted to help every single member, but without proper guidance and appropriate training, we basically had to “Empower” ourselves and provide the most that we could without the worry of losing our job.
    I did a lot. Gave more than I should have, and don’t regret a single decision I made. My guests where happy, and that is what (in my opinion) every guest should feel at the end of a call…happy & satisfied.

  19. No loss…

    Having held Ambassador status last year, I found the perk anything but. Good luck getting a hold of them or getting a timely response.

    I only found my Ambassador helpful for fixing account issues because of the poor state of Marriott’s IT for example getting certificates back in my account when I cancelled an award reservation or processing a travel pkg redemption.

  20. Given its a Marriott Bonvoy(ED) I would assume to maintain a status qualification for next yr be:

    Gold: 50 nights
    Platinum: 75 nights
    Titanium: 100 nights
    Ambassador: 150 nights + $30000

    With each of us getting a personal greeting message from the CEO “You have been Bonvoyed”!!

  21. I didn’t make ambassador this year. My contact was amazing!! I will really miss this perk and feel bad for those that qualified and don’t get the benefit.

  22. @Ben
    I think this is a US step, not a global step. I have yet to receive communication from my ambassador in Japan. Ambassador service here is business as usual for now. Though I don’t have (m)any stays upcoming where I can use the service.

  23. My ambassador reached out to me this week. She works remotely, from home and has no intention of reducing my level of service. She also mentioned that the Salt Lake City office is open and operating “as normal as can be”.

    I suppose I may be the exception, however, my Ambassador engagement and responses are the same as it was before COVID-19.

    No matter what, stay safe and healthy!

  24. So basically Marriott elite can expect the same level of service… nothing!

    I was (am I guess!) top level with both Marriott and Hyatt. Coming out of this it will only be Hyatt.

    My very nice and responsive Hyatt concierge emailed me to let me know she was still around, I guess this is why.

  25. I was Ambassador Elite last year, and got exactly 2 emails from my ambassador: “Welcome to the program” and “Sorry, you didn’t qualify for next year”. I did 309 nights at Marriott hotels to qualify for my Ambassador status, and fell short by a few PQD to renew, and I will tell you firsthand that this program was utterly useless to me, and I don’t miss it.

  26. Most of us “may not need an Ambassador now” as most of us should not be travelling now. Hopefully all gets better and everyone returns to work.

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