Marriott Bonvoy has today announced changes to its top-tier Ambassador Elite status. On the plus side, the benefits will be improving. However, the requirement to earn it will be increasing as well.
Marriott Ambassador will require $23K of spending in 2023
Let’s start with the bad news — as of January 1, 2023, Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status will require earning 100 elite nights plus racking up $23,000 worth of eligible spending.
Ambassador Elite is Marriott’s only status tier to have a spending requirement, and up until now the status required $20,000 of spending, so that’s a 15% increase in the requirement.
As before, elite nights earned with Marriott’s co-branded credit cards continue to count toward Ambassador Elite status. However, for most the challenge is reaching the spending requirement, and not the elite night recquirement.
Just to be crystal clear, the requirement for 2022 remains unchanged, so you can still earn Ambassador Elite status in 2022 with 100 elite nights plus $20,000 of eligible spending. You’d then maintain your status through February 2024.
Marriott Ambassador personalized service returning
Now on to the good news. Historically the biggest benefit of Marriott Ambassador Elite status was receiving personalized service — you had a dedicated point of contact who could help you with reservations. Marriott suspended this service during the pandemic, eliminating the single biggest benefit of this status.
Fortunately this will be making a comeback — as of mid-2023, Ambassador Elite members will once again be assigned personal ambassadors to help make travel planning easier. These will be assigned based on the language and time zone that best matches a member’s preferences.
As Marriott describes it, personal ambassadors will work directly with members to assist with planning travel involving the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. Members will also be able to voluntarily share additional information about what is important to them, to further enhance the personalized service they receive.
Personal ambassadors can perform a variety of tasks, including booking or changing hotel stays and services, such as dining and spa reservations. They can also help facilitate other specific requests, like tickets for tours and activities, dining options, and ground transportation.
A good ambassador may occasionally also proactively reach out to hotels to make your stay special, even when you don’t have any specific requests.
My take on these Marriott Ambassador changes
Personally I don’t necessarily mind Marriott Bonvoy increasing the spending requirement by 15%. That’s not totally unreasonable, and is more or less in line with inflation. In many markets we’ve seen hotel costs go up by way more than 15%.
While Marriott restoring personalized service for Ambassador Elite members is a step in the right direction, I still find the value proposition of Ambassador Elite to simply not be there. The incremental perks over Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status include the personalized service, plus Your24, allowing you to check-in and check-out at your preferred time, at the hotel’s discretion (which is of limited value, since it’s not guaranteed).
The way I view it:
- At this point you can get Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status just for having the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (review)
- Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status requires 75 elite nights, but you can earn 40 of those elite nights just by having the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (review) and the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review); in other words, you could earn this with just spending 35 nights in hotels, with no spending requirement
So not only having to earn 100 elite nights, but also having to spend $23,000, is a big ask from Marriott. The only incremental perks are personalized service (which could be super useful, or could be useless, depending on the person you get), plus Your24, which is of limited value. World of Hyatt Globalist members with 60 elite nights through Milestone Rewards get a personalized concierge as well, and that has no spending requirement.
As before, I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to earn Ambassador Elite. If you happen to earn it through your stays anyway, great. If you don’t, it’s no big loss.
Marriott Bonvoy is making changes to the Ambassador Elite program as of 2023. The spending requirement for earning the status will increase from $20,000 to $23,000. Then as of mid-2023, Marriott will finally be bringing back customized service for Ambassador Elite members, in the form of personal ambassadors.
It’s nice to see this personalized service resume, though I don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze here, so to speak.
What do you make of these Marriott Ambassador Elite changes?