Like a mountain climber nearing the peak, low on oxygen (and some might say, thoughts), I staggered to the pinnacle of Insider gamification, joining the scores of other members with the little known, resume building, Time Traveler status (Sheriff bpelican is our leader). Utilizing that status, I'll briefly return us in time to the early days
of Marriott and what was their very innovative loyalty program.
Back in the day, the Marriott annual corporate picnic was a modest, friendly, familial gathering of employees out at the Marriott farm in Hume, Va., called Fairfield, which still exists today and can be booked for pleasant wine and horse country stays (Warning: points are not earned ).
The Marriott Ranch Bed and Breakfast
We did typical company picnic type events with games and great food, with virtually the entire Marriott family on hand in their usual friendly and personable manner. One of my favorite activities was bouncing along the hayride with 'Uncle Woody', a true raconteur who would regale us with tales about his older brother J.W., while we discussed baseball stories, and of course as whippersnappers, grilled him about Mormons not drinking caffeine or more tragically, beer (no one had the nerve to bring up magic underwear ).
Marriott soon reached the remarkable (to all of us at least) billion dollar sales mark, and along came Honored Guests, Club Marquis, and eventually Rewards plans, as Marriott's loyalty program (tip of the cap to Roger Dow) became the industry leader, running a bit against Bill Marriott's intuitive resistance of being the innovator, "there's a lot of dead pioneers".
Those were heady days for road warriors, treated like the loyal customers their revenue provided. Old timers, reminisce with me as we go back in times through the glory days of business travel; I'll skip over the early Club Marquis benefits, $200 check cashing, room rate discounts, express check in, luggage tags, and free newspapers:
Bogos (rooms and dinners), $1000 gift cheques for 135k points (costing even less when you deduct points earned with the $1000), Point savers to places you wanted to go, Elite offers that actually saved money, Flash sales of rooms truly at half price, Virtual concierge options which increased upgrade odds, wine and cheese welcome platter, terrific when with the spouse, award redemptions including flights and rental cars (oh c'mon, no way, way***), uncrowded lounges where breakfast was not a competitive sport, excellent value in only seven or fewer hotel categories.
*** taken from a Washington Post article in the 80s
When a traveler accumulates 350,000 points he is eligible for Marriott's highest award -- 13 days and 12 nights free at any Marriott hotel or resort worldwide, a Marriott suite for the price of a regular room, four free round-trip airline tickets on Continental, Eastern, TWA or Western airlines to most places they fly, a rental car for about two weeks and a week-long cruise for two.
I contacted anadyr aka stepping stones. As a Marriott associate, I served him coffee at Georgetown U. He was working for the Defense Dept. gathering secrets long before Google, and he agreed to pull up my files (he's got yours also); here's how he says I compiled my 8,000 Insiders widgets:
418 complaints about AAA and Sr. rates higher than Standard rates - apples to apples
322 answers to posters who didn't acknowledge receipt of answers
516 answers to questions that had been asked 10 times or more
436 Likes, Helpfuls, and poll votes
292 definitions of what a "Stay" was
100 George Takei 'Oh My' s
100 Lil Marriott boy 'Stick it to the Man' s
187 'Keep On Keepin On' s
203 comments about my love of Badges
165 posts about Arne being on CNBC
400 replies whining about no longer being the target audience
382 photos of beer and whiskey flights
273 responses to the erc-o-meter going off
3,000 retorts (and R. Clemente's hits) about Marriott acting like we were wearing our 'stupid' clothes
812 rants of Baseball stories and Hotel Review Contest destroying Insiders participation
388 Travel write ups prior to Baseball stories and Hotel Review Contest
and 6 bon mots - averaging one a year
As Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir sang, "what a long strange trip it's been" and I've enjoyed every month of it (day/week might be stretching it). As always, Keep on keepin' on - and remember, it's a great day to be alive