Marriott’s new loyalty program launched on August 18, and the integration has been rocky, to put it mildly. There were a few surprises when the program launched (both good and bad), and one of the unpleasant surprises was the verbiage for the Platinum suite upgrade benefit, which wasn’t as we expected.
Marriott’s new terms & conditions stated the following for the Platinum suite upgrade benefit:
Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members. Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member’s personal guest room at no additional charge. Enhanced rooms may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites.
This wasn’t as we expected because we were told the upgrade benefit would mirror that of Starwood Preferred Guest rather than that of Marriott Rewards, but that wasn’t the case.
One of the things that made Starwood Preferred Guest unique was that they offered Platinum members suite upgrades subject to availability. For a long time they were the only program offering that as a guaranteed benefit.
There’s an important distinction to be made between how Starwood and Marriott promised suite upgrades for Platinum members:
- Starwood offered top tier elite members upgrades to the best available room subject to availability, including suites
- Marriott offered top tier elite members upgrades subject to availability, and that room upgrade “may” include a standard suite
Marriott told me shortly after the new terms were published that it wasn’t their intention for it to be phrased the way it is, and they said they’d update the terms. They’ve now done that, and Marriott’s new terms for Platinum suite upgrades state the following:
Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members. Platinum Elite Members receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in. Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors.
So that’s great news, because now the benefit officially reflects SPG’s old policy.
Marriott hasn’t updated their member benefits page, which still states the following:
We’ll do our best to upgrade your room (including Select Suites), based on availability at check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability identified by each hotel and limited to your personal guest room. See terms and conditions for details.
Of course the biggest question is how individual hotels adhere to this policy. Historically Marriott hasn’t been as good as Starwood when it comes to getting hotels on the same page regarding policies, so we’ll see this plays out…
It’s good to see that Marriott has updated the terms to reflect what they claimed was the intent of the new policy. It would be nice if they updated the benefits page as well.
Personally I think this integration continues to be poorly executed. It has now been 2.5 weeks since programs have been integrated, and it’s still not possible to redeem points at former all-suite properties online…
What has your experience been with Marriott & Starwood hotel Platinum upgrades in the past couple of weeks?