For a long time, I was extremely loyal to Starwood Hotels and Resorts (aka SPG). I genuinely enjoyed my experience at SPG properties and obtained top-tier status consecutively over several years. I would even stay at SPG properties when the property wasn’t the cheapest or closest to my destination.
However, in 2016, Marriott acquired SPG and Ritz-Carlton and launched one unified loyalty program called ‘Marriott Bonvoy.’
YOU’VE BEEN BONVOYED!
The merger between the three programs was not smooth in any sense of the word. In fact, on various media platforms, frequent travelers used the word “bonvoy” as a synonymy for disfunction…even when Marriott wasn’t involved.
- Reservation disappear from your Marriott account? You’ve been bonvoyed!
- Not upgraded to a better room at check-in despite Marriott top-tier status? You’ve been bonvoyed!
- Points not post from your Marriott stay? You’ve been bonvoyed!
- Still missing elite night credits from a year ago? You’ve been bonvoyed!
- Did you book an award stay and a few thousand extra points disappear from your account? You’ve been bonvoyed!
- Receive elite benefits at one hotel but benefits don’t apply at another? You’ve been bonvoyed!
- Were you bumped off your oversold flight? Yup…you’ve been bonvoyed!
The merger was so bad, a website was created just so people could vent about their experience.
AVERSION TO LOYALTY PROGRAMS
For context, I also had a brief obsession with Delta Air Lines at one time but we all know what happened with the value of their miles (also affectionately known as
You see, as I hinted above, the thing I’ve discovered about “loyalty” programs, is that individuals tend to NOT make rational decisions when loyalty/points are involved. For example, I’ve chosen to stay at sub-par Marriott properties because I knew my status would grant a room upgrade, despite looking at a similar priced – or even cheaper – Hyatt property next door and saying “oh wow, that looks amazing!”
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve received extreme value from my Marriott status and have stayed in places I could never afford (LIKE THIS), but have also had to deal with the frustrations of the program.
Fortunately, Marriott has announced that “members who earned Elite Status in 2019 will receive an extension of their Elite Status to 1 February 2022.” In other words, I will have platinum status with Marriott for another year even if I do not stay a single night.
In my eyes, this is a great time to break the cycle of (self-inflicted) pain and leave!
HOW I CAME TO THIS CONCLUSION
Recently, Marriott announced some changes to the free night awards that may be sitting in member accounts, saying:
Effective December 11, 2020, members who currently have a Free Night Award (FNA) that had [has] an original expiration date in 2020, or which will expire before July 31, 2021, as part of their cobrand credit card benefit, annual choice benefit, promotions or travel package will be able to redeem it through August 1, 2021. Free Night Awards with an original expiration date prior to 2020 will not be eligible for the additional extension. Members do not need to take any action. The system will automatically update your Account with these extensions on December 11, 2020.
I have a Marriott seven night certificate (below) which I purchased as part of a travel package. It was originally due to expire in late 2019, however, it was extended into early 2020. But then the pandemic happened and it was extended even more – now due to expire 31 January 2021 (yes, in less than 2 months). However, according to the statement above, it cannot be extended because of its original expiration date (2019).
I have spoken to several agents and they have said it will not be extended again come 11 December. Therefore, I have two options:
- wait until 11 December and see if their computer technology recognizes the original purchase date or;
- stay 7 nights at a hotel in the next 60 days
If the expiration does not change on 11 Dec., then I have approximately 5 weeks to redeem it. And I’m not comfortable staying in a hotel at the moment, which makes both options challenging.
I feel like I’ve wasted my time, points and am wasting more time by staying at properties that don’t really excite me.
MY NEW WORLD (OF HYATT)
Clearly, Delta and Marriott have scarred me, but recognizing that I can simply redeem transferrable points (e.g. Chase, Amex, Citi, and even Marriott), for the experiences that I am seeking, is status really worth it?
Over the past two years, Hyatt has been expanding and adding hundreds of new hotels across all of their brands including Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, The Unbound Collection, and Miraval.
Additionally, Hyatt recently acquired Two Roads Hospitality which allowed them to add several new brands including Alila, Destination, Joie de Vivre, Thompson and tommie to their portfolio. I’ve been drooling over several properties and I think I’m going to make the jump.
And to be clear, this excites me…
I’m not bitter, but I’m also not interested in being loyal to a program that could change and be unrecognizable over the course of a few years. And what is “lifetime status” worth in a program that you may not enjoy anymore?
The pandemic has created some unique opportunities to explore as a free agent. Unfortunately for Marriott, when it comes to loyalty programs, I would now categorize myself as ‘loyalty averse.’
And I’m excited to explore something new and use Marriott as my backup.
What is your favorite hotel loyalty program?
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Aww that’s a bummer but I’ve seen a read a few unfair situations this year due to the pandemic? Are you able to “sell” your nights to someone meaning book the certificate in their name and they can reimburse you?
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Unfortunately, you can’t sell bc your name is tied to the reservation. It’s inconvenient but I’ve already moved on because there are some exciting properties on the radar. Stay tuned. 😉
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I echo your same sentiments. The whole Marriott merger with SPG has been one bad move after the other.
They’ve been Bonvoying us for the couple years. I’m so looking forward to achieving Globalist status.
Cheers 🍻 to a new chapter.
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