So, I have earned 50 nights this year, and thereby qualify for the first tier Choice Benefit. But, I'm not sure what to choose. Frankly I'm not excited about any of them. As many of you know, the choices are:
1) Gift Silver Elite Status to a Friend/Family Member: I can't really see anyone in my life getting too excited about this. If they care about hotel award status, they probably already have at least Silver. It's not that hard to get.
2) Discount on a Marriott Bed. Maybe, if I were planning on buying a bed soon, but I'm not. And I've also heard that these are not good deals even with the discount. (Would love to hear others weigh in on this, though.)
3) $100 donated to UNICEF. Maybe I am a bad person but this just doesn't do much for me. If it were one of my preferred charities, maybe...
3) 5 EQNs (can only be applied to the year in which the award is earned). I have already attained Platinum for this year, so these 5 EQNs would only be valuable to me if they could get me up to the next level, Platinum Premiere, which requires 75 nights. I only have 53 nights now and no travel planned for the rest of the year, so to make these useful I would need to gin up an additional 17 nights - for example, hold one event for 10 nights and then stay an additional 7 nights. This seems like too much time and money to spend to just go from Platinum to Platinum Premiere for next year. So, 5 EQNs are useless.
4) The free night award, which I would love to get, is not available as a 50 night award - you need 75 nights to get it. This award provides a certificate for a room worth up to 40,000 points. I wish MR would offer a mini-version of this benefit for those attaining 50 nights, such as a free night worth 25,000 or even 17,500 points. Something clearly less desirable to distinguish us from those attaining a loftly 75 nights - maybe a room in Phoenix in July? With the pool closed for maintainance? Or, why not just throw us a bone and give us 10K points that we could use toward some kind of room of our choosing? I think we should push for something along these lines, but as of now nothing exists.
5) Which brings me to: Suite Night Awards (SNAs). I've never used SNAs and am struggling to figure out whether these would be of any use to me. I am a budget traveler whether I'm using cash or points (my travel right now is all personal), so I stay mainly at Fairfleld, Courtyard, RI, and SHS (never TPS - I have my standards :-)) So I wasn't sure how well SNAs would translate to these non-full service hotels. I have gotten some good upgrades in the mid-level hotels just for being Platinum; the best were ocean-front room at a Courtyard on Ft Lauderdale beach when I had paid for the cheaper city view; and an upgrade from a studio to a 2 bed 2 bath suite for an entire month at a Residence Inn in Atlanta (convenient because I could have extra guest stay with me). Would SNA awards add anything to this?
I would love to hear your thoughts on all these issues, including: 1) the extent to which SNAs are useful in non-full service hotels; and 2) whether the other Choice Benefit options are worth more than they appear to me. Also, do you have (realistic) suggestions for how Marriott could improve this program, realizing that they are not going to give us the moon?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and creativity!