As a military surgeon, I average approximately 200 days per year away from my primary residence. Of those two hundred days, the majority are spent in some form of military lodging, but when the opportunity presents itself, I make the effort to stay in a Marriott.
I first became a member of the Marriott Rewards Program in 2010 through the SPG Rewards affiliation with American Express Platinum. Since the merger of the SPG and Marriott Bonvoy Rewards Programs, I have established Gold Elite status and thoroughly enjoy the benefits on a regular basis. While I have experimented with other forms of travel lodging -AirBnB, HomeAway, and hybrid apart-hotels such as Moxy or Roost -Marriott hotels and resorts have become my reflex go-to choice due to their convenience, ease of use, wide-array of amenities and services, and most importantly, their familiarity. My commitment to Marriott has become so strong in fact, that I now almost exclusively stay in Marriott hotels when traveling for work or pleasure, and I will typically select my vacation travel destinations around the presence of a Marriott resort. Beyond being a simple brand loyalist, one could say that I am rapidly becoming brand dependent. Parallel to the acceptance of my Marriott addiction, I discovered Marriott’s “Travel Brilliantly” campaign. To this end, I would like to present the following “Bold Idea” for Marriott’s consideration:
The M-Pass: A premium access pass for selected members of the Bonvoy Rewards Program, which grants access and use of Marriott facilities without the need to be a lodged guest within the property.
Modeled on the Collinson’s Group Priority Pass for First Class Lounge access throughout the world’s airports, the M-Pass could be purchased for an annual fee or granted as a rewards program perk to qualifying Bonvoy members. The M-Pass would allow holders to use the services and amenities of Marriott properties without the need to book an overnight stay. Members would have access to the fitness center, pool, spa, business facilities, club lounge, and meeting rooms as available.
Next generation travelers have been described as those who seamlessly blend work and play in a mobile and global world. As a member of this cohort, I often find myself in foreign locales for short periods of time without the need for an overnight hotel stay in a Marriott property. Examples include 12 hour layovers, group tour package travel, holiday family visits, business travel in which my employer mandates stay in a competing hotel chain or in military berthing and, staycations. Regardless of the circumstances, the modern mobile global citizen needs a consistent, reliable, trustworthy, and connected home base that is universally available to them 24/7, worldwide. A place where one can make a quick traveler’s retreat, get away from the crowds, get a revitalizing workout, take a refreshing shower, print out a boarding pass, put the finishing touches on a business proposal, stow the carry-on bag, get a dinner recommendation from the property concierge, and “get a cool drink”. The M-Pass would provide this retreat.
The M-Pass takes Marriott International back to its roots as a luxurious retreat for all travelers . It benefits Marriott International by springboarding the brand into the next generation of travel, offering a comprehensive hospitality service that is not available from any other entity, except Priority Pass, USO, YMCA, LiquidSpace, and some religious organizations. And even these entities don’t offer the full spectrum of what can be offered by Marriott.
Most importantly however, Marriott will benefit from a new level of brand loyalty. The M-Pass can be conceived as an essential tool for the growing population of global and unanchored citizenry. As the program expands and gains a following, M-Pass membership will likely expand into a greater commitment to Marriott and conversion to increased usage of in-house services and vendors as well as increased room reservation rates. Moreover, M-Pass could place Marriott in a position to expand into the workspace-on-demand industry (NeuHouse, LiquidSpace, and WeWork) and increase revenue accordingly.
In terms of cost to Marriott International, the majority of physical costs would be either nominal or completely encapsulated in existing overhead: fitness center maintenance, business center supplies, club lounge food and beverage costs. It is reasonable to consider that increased traffic from M-Pass users may have a deleterious psychological impact on existing overnight guests who may view the resultant increase in shared space occupancy as intrusive or disruptive to the traditional hotel experience. This complaint however can be met with the counter arguments that many existing hotel chains offer memberships to their on-site gym and spa facilities to the general public without a detrimental effect on the hotel guest experience. Additionally, M-Pass membership can be volume controlled through a variety of exclusivity practices such as price, loyalty points, or blackout periods.