Marriott Provides Update On Existing Travel Packages

For those looking to maximize our points, one of the biggest questions leading up to Marriott’s new program is how existing Travel Packages will be handled. I won’t rehash everything I’ve already written, so I recommend checking out these posts first, if you haven’t read them yet:

Marriott’s new loyalty program launches August 18, so we have just about a week remaining to book these Travel Packages before they devalue. I’ve shared my strategy about the Travel Packages that I think I’ll book, though the truth is that I still haven’t pulled the trigger on one of these.

I figure it makes sense to wait as long as possible so we can get as much info as possible before committing to this.

Marriott has now provided me with the following update regarding Travel Packages:

When our loyalty programs unify on August 18, our new Travel Package award chart here, will go into effect and members will be able to book for packages at all 6,700 of our hotels.

However, if you currently have a Travel Package Certificate that’s not yet attached to a hotel reservation, you have the following options:

  • If you know when you want to travel, make a new reservation or attach your certificate to an existing one prior to August 18, 2018.
  • If you are still trying to plan that perfect trip, you can hold onto the certificate and will be able to add it to a reservation starting September 18, 2018.

Please note that you will not be able to modify your certificate for an existing reservation or attach it to a new one between August 18 and September 18, 2018.

So it’s a pretty big update that you won’t be able to redeem Travel Packages for an entire month following the new program taking effect. Given all the incredible short term points values that will be available, I can see some of the best properties selling out very quickly.

It’s not a total deal breaker, but that is a bummer.

It’s also telling that they say you will indeed be able to redeem these after August. Many people speculated that they’d convert these certificates into some points amount, but this confirm that won’t be happening.

I’ve followed up to ask how the categories for the certificates will convert, though I think it’s telling that they haven’t revealed that, which suggests to me that they still won’t do that.

So yeah, this is a pretty frustrating update, as it seems they’re trying to do everything they can to prevent people from truly maximizing these certificates (which in some way I can’t blame them for, but…). On the plus side, at least they’re sharing some further info.

Will this impact your Marriott Travel Packages strategy?

Comments

  1. @ Lucky — it sounds like they are not going to tell us what is going to happen to existing certificates (insofar as category mapping, etc.) until after August 18. Do you agree?

    Since there is a monthlong waiting period, it makes me think their systems aren’t ready yet which would imply they are trying to do something fancy — a simple points refund would be relatively easy to execute.

  2. Disappointing or no, at least it’s progress in the information department. Impossible to make sound decisions with as little info as Marriott has provided.

  3. Yeah I agree with @Ivan. The fact that they are saying you can attach them after Sept 18 means they will have to be used on hotel stays, they are just needing time to figure out how to map them to the new categories. That is a huge negative revelation in my opinion. The idea of cashing in all points for several cat 1-5 certificates now seems like a total waste unless you plan on living in a Fairfield inn somewhere for a month.

  4. “If you are still trying to plan that perfect trip, you can hold onto the certificate and will be able to add it to a reservation starting September 18, 2018.”

    This seems to put an end to the speculation that existing certs will be cancelled and some number of points refunded.

  5. @ CXL — Not sure how we’re defining “public” here, but this is what I was emailed by a Marriott spokesperson.

  6. Lucky, based on what you have said in the last few weeks, are you still thinking they are not revealing other details of because they intend to be generous? Your last paragraph would now seem may be not? Thanks!

  7. I’m pretty disappointed in this, honestly. I have a 7-night certificate that I want to use at a Tier 5 property (Ritz-Carlton Kyoto). I have the points to upgrade it from a Cat 1-5 to a Tier 5, but was hoping to do so after the transition given that the RC Kyoto is temporarily going down to 60,000 points per night instead of 70,000 points per night.

    Now I’m stuck in a quandary about what to do here given our stay is in September and we’ll be actively traveling to Japan on September 18th when it is possible to attach these certificates again.

    I think I’ll call tomorrow to upgrade and apply the certificate just to be on the safe side.

  8. After August 18, can we still refund the hotel certificate for 45k points?

    As long as that’s still an option, isn’t it still better to redeem points for a travel package? Thee Marriott points to airline miles conversion is still better than SPG/Marriott on their own. Now, we just know that we won’t get an even bigger windfall.

  9. @ Scott — Nope, I don’t think it will be possible to request points, though I might be missing something.

  10. Do you know the cancellation policy of hotel part of travel package? Is it the same as booking by points(Usually free if cancelled 1 day before arrival)?

  11. Thanks Lucky! My issue is the destination I’m planning for Thanksgiving has two Marriott hotels, one currently is cat5 and the other which is a cat6 will become cat5 on Aug 18th. My original plan was to use my certificate on cat6 after category change goes effective on Aug 18th, but now I’m worried after Sep 18th there might not be a whole week’s availability for that cat6 hotel. I’ll use my certificate on cat5 hotel and wait until Sep 18th to see if the old cat6 hotel would still be available.

  12. Have they indicated whether they will extend expiration on existing travel package certificates after August 18th the way they do now?

  13. @ FS — They haven’t indicated one way or another, though will try to get clarification on that as well.

  14. I have a category 9 certificate attached to the JW Marriott at Santa Monica for next summer for a week. The property is going up to cat7, 60k to redeem after Aug 18. My question is if I have to change dates say after 9/18, would I be able to simply change dates or I have to pay additional points under the new program? Any information is appreciate it.

  15. I currently am booked at the JW Essex Sept 9-16 with a travel certificate. I was hoping to either change it to a St. Regis Stay (if allowed), but it sounds like I won’t be able to make changes until after Sept 18. Is that correct? Can I cancel the Essex House and use it next year if I decide to book St. Regis with points 60K/night instead? Do we know if we can use a Current Category 9 travel certificate for a stay at the St. Regis after Aug 16?

  16. We’ll start to see Marriott doing things to devalue the program because they can. Marriott’s scale gives them license to effect change that impacts their bottom line, they didn’y do this buyout to enrich their loyalty members.

  17. “If you know when you want to travel, make a new reservation or attach your certificate to an existing one prior to August 18, 2018.”

    Well, I know when I want to travel (next October), but I’m pretty sure I can’t book THAT before August 18th 🙁

  18. Regarding the expiration date extension piece, I would bet that all certs impacted by this month long gap will end up either being converted to points or into a new cert with an expiration date a year from the conversion.

  19. “If you are still trying to plan that perfect trip, you can hold onto the certificate and will be able to add it to a reservation starting September 18, 2018.”

    The BIG Question is at what point value? It doesn’t say anything about what you can attach it to. We do know after August 18th the New Chart prevails. After the dormancy, which I predicted, it now appears that a current Cat 1-5 will be good for a new Cat 1-4. For a current Cat 6 you will have the option of refunding 30K or Spending 30K more and moving up to new Cat 5.

    We also now know certificates WILL NOT be converted to unrestricted MR points, as I predicted.

    For those still believing that an Old Category will “map” to the same new Category for an unparalleled opportunity to book a week at any property in the combined portfolio, I do wish you luck. Not sarcastically! Personally, I don’t think that will happen but a tip of the hat to you if it does. I am happy attaching my Cat 8 to a property that will become a Cat 5 especially knowing I will get a 30K refund without a cancel & rebook. Effectively I get an extra night in a New Cat 4 with 5K to spare or I can add 5K and get an extra night in a New Cat 5. That is a nice bonus. More than fair, more than equitable.

    I am not interested in booking New Cat 7 properties. I value the 25K Airline FF miles the 60K can buy more.

    I already have a 2 night revenue stay booked at the St. Regis in Bora Bora early next year. It was a little under $1,800 and that is the cheap part. Flights from PPT to Bora Bora (50 mins) were over $1,000 return for 2 and the 20 minute water transport from and to the airport is $270. Restaurant meals will run $150-$200 per couple per meal per day.

    Exciting if you can book them and find availability too. Just make sure to consider all the ancillary expenses related to your stay. It may not be as good a deal as you thought.

    I will pay the room rate and save the 120K MR Points. Converted to FF miles the 50K will give me at least twice the value of my 2 night stay in Bora Bora.

    I think Marriott errored in calling the collection of “point” properties Categories in the new program. It created a lot of confusion between old and new. They could have more appropriately called them Groups. However, post August 17th it is moot.

    James

  20. Well the property I want to use it as is an SPG one so will need to wait until after August anyway! Hopefully still availability then. Have booked cat 6 as they look like they’ll become new cat 5 and hoping it’ll map. Would still have preferred points, perhaps that’ll be an option rather than automatic?

  21. Lucky, do you know whether Marriott is still offering 45K Marriott Rewards points for a 7-night travel package, as they have in the past? While I realize this isn’t a great value, I have already made all my travel plans for the next year and they simply don’t allow for a 7-night redemption, and, in any case, I’m really only interested in maximizing the number of airline miles I can get with my Rewards points.

  22. Got the email saying :
    For certificates purchased prior to 8/18, we are working to convert your package and it will be available based on the new converted values on September 18, 2018.

  23. Thanks for the update. Everyone’s situation is different, so there is not cookie cutter maximization stategy that works for all. Myself, it’s hard to use a 7 night cert with work and wanting to move around when going wherever. Was considering a 5 night trip (and ditching 2 free nights) in September… At a hotel that reclassifies downward on 8/18. So I’m thinking it’s a no go now due to the 8/18-9/18 no book period. If that info isn’t 100% correct, oh well, it’s all a guess. Was on the fence til now, and flexibility is nice too.

  24. Wait, so I’m confused. Two weeks ago I ordered a Cat 1-5 certificate to stay at Marriott Puerto Vallarta for Christmas week. That hotel is now a Category 7, but moving to a Category 5 so it stays at 35,000 point after the changeover. Shouldn’t I wait until September to attach it to a reservation? I figured getting a Cat 1-5 certificate now would be fine since the points are staying the same.

  25. The fact that they are taking away flexibility for a month means they should move unattached certificates to a category higher. That would be fair. Let people with points get at the deals for a month and then be generous to the orphans with certificates.

  26. I ordered – and attached – 3 Travel Packages. All reservations are showing in my account. But, I got the email stating that I had a Travel Package certificate that I have not yet attached … I simply cannot find another, unattached certificate (of any kind) in my account.

    Can anyone give me guidance as to where I might find this unattached certificate? I usually find them in the Activity section of my account. I would love to have another week to attach!

  27. @KJ It appears we might have our first glitch. I got the same email but don’t have any unattached certificates.

    James

  28. I checked with SPG assist on Twitter

    Me: …Thanks, but that was not really my question, I have a Marriott catagory 7, 7day certificate, what catagory hotel will I be able to book on September 18 if I do not use it before?

    SPG: You will be able to book both Category 7 and Category 8 hotels found on here https://t.co/cyZrLvk5Lc. An eighth category will be added in early 2019. Until then, Category 8 hotels will be available at Category 7 pricing. You cannot attach a 7 day Marriott certificate to a SPG hotel until after September 18th.

  29. Chris says:

    “Got the email saying : For certificates purchased prior to 8/18, we are working to convert your package and it will be available based on the new converted values on September 18, 2018.

    Wait, so if I purchased a Cat 6 certificate, they’re going to turn it into a Cat. 5 certificate?? Say it ain’t so!

  30. I received this email from Marriott even though all my certificates are attached to reservations. Has this happened to anyone else?

  31. @Lucky – So what if you’re trying to apply it to an SPG property for travel between Aug 18 and Sept 18?

  32. @Tim Your Cat 1-5 has a “value” of 150K restricted MR Points. In your particular case, the number of MR points required for you stay in PV is the same in Old MR and New MR. 35K per night (210K for 7N) but your Cat 1-5 certificate is only good for propeties up to 25K per night. (150K for 7N)

    With the dormancy until mid September I would suggest upgrading with 60K and attaching your Cat 7 now rather than waiting until September and adding 60K to book when there may not be availability.

    James

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