With the downgrade of the platinum award program, today marks the end of an era for Marriott. This was the final remaining benefit that made a loyal customer feel special and appreciated, and allowed hotels to provide individualized welcome gifts to create memorable first impressions. The $10 F&B credit is a slap in the face and another indication that current MR management has no clue regarding the financial impact of loyal customers.
I joined the original Marquis program several years ago, earned lifetime platinum, and purchased 5 weeks (plus DC points) of timeshares. Although I was never a true road warrior, I traveled frequently and impacted decisions for others in the group. Until recently, Marriott properties represented over 80% of our hotel stays. The MR program was a primary reason because I always felt appreciated. Some of the most influential program benefits included:
- Guaranteed rooms
- CL access with breakfast, snacks, wine (complimentary or reasonably priced)
- Welcome gifts (my usual is merlot and fruit/pretzels)
- BOGO (We often took weekend trips and ate in the hotel restaurants due to this offer, and no longer do this at all)
- $1000 checks for 135kpoints
- Dinner for 2 certificates
- 10-20% dining discount (This discount made dining in a Marriott more comparable to other restaurants in the area). Now we seldom dine in Marriott restaurants
- Valuable rewards (110k for 7 nights at any resort worldwide, 2 RT airline tickets, 1 week Hertz rental
- Most importantly: I always was treated like the hotel/ company appreciated my business
In recent years since Bill Marriott has reduced involvement and Ed French has taken over the MR program, every valuable benefit has been reduced or eliminated. A few were added, but most of these are also offered by every other chain and non are personalized in any way. Now I am just another number, and no longer have any reason to choose Marriott over any other chain. This is a real shame because Marriott was the leader in realizing that making customers feel special enhances their growth and profitability. The bean counting philosophy today only considers short term profits, but loses sight of the longer term impact of losing their most loyal customers. I am just fortunate to have enjoyed many years of benefits of an excellent program and memorable travel experiences. In the future, I will choose my hotels based on price, location, and amenities. Marriott, you have now become a commodity.