Marriott Drops Next Wave of Bonvoy Changes
Marriott announced today that peak and off peak pricing will go into effect starting September 14th, among some other “interesting” changes.
Below, the text in bolded italics is directly from Marriott with my comments in normal text below each part.
On September 14, Off-Peak and Peak redemption rates for a free night stay will to go into effect on Marriott.com and the Marriott Bonvoy App, joining existing Standard redemption rates. These were first announced in April 2018.
This means that during certain times of the year when there is less demand, Off-Peak rates will be offered at properties, reducing the number of points needed for members to redeem for a free night. Conversely, during times of the year when properties are busiest, Peak rates might be offered. Across the entire portfolio, Standard rates will be offered the majority of the time with the rest being an equal distribution of Off-Peak and Peak rates. These rates will extend to all 7,000 Marriott Bonvoy participating properties portfolio wide.
OK – we knew this was coming. Frankly they had advised this was going to occur, originally, many many months ago so we’ve had a lot of extra time to enjoy at least the standard pricing even if the top category had gone for 60,000 points a night and is now 85,000. Come peak time it will vascilate between 70,000 and 100,000 a night.
There will be changes coming to other parts of the program.
- Now until September 14, members can book redemption stays using Standard rates. After that date, if the property offers Off-Peak rates during the time period for which they have booked a stay, the member can cancel their reservation and rebook using the new number of points needed. As always, if they modify their reservation after booking, the reservation will reflect the prevailing rate, which could be the same, higher or lower than at the time of booking. The cancellation policy for their reservation will apply.
So, you’ll definitely want to think about what redemptions you can plan before end of schedule. If rates drop you can still rebook. If they go up, though, you’ll wish you’d booked. You can also do Points Advance (which will require manual intervention later to book at the right price) but there are changes to that, mentioned below.
- The ability for members to book a stay using a combination of Cash + Points is not changing. However, the Cash + Points redemption chart is being updated to standardize the amount of cash needed to redeem a stay within each category. The amount of points needed will vary depending on whether the property is offering Off-Peak, Standard or Peak rates. Check out a video here.
OK. Standardized is good. Although to be honest, I never see Cash + Points rates anymore. SPG had them consistently but that definitely is not the case with Marriott.
- Members can still take advantage of Points Advance, which enables members without enough points to reserve a room while continuing to earn points to cover the rate. The number of points needed may vary until enough points are earned because the reservation is subject to the current Off-Peak, Standard or Peak rate. Once members have earned enough points to cover the current rate being offered, they can apply the points to lock in the redemption rate. Additionally, starting September 14, members can have a maximum of three Points Advance reservations at one time. For Points Advance reservations made before September 14, we will honor up to five at the Standard redemption rate. This will increase availability of redemption rooms for all members. Check out a video here.
That one underline above is mine. This is IMPORTANT. Points Advance will no longer lock in the rate.
So if you do a Points Advance with the rate at 70,000 a night and when you have the points saved up it has changed to 100,000 points, you’ll need to go back and earn 30,000 more.
I think this is a fairly customer-unfriendly move, given that the whole point is to “plan” around earning the points you need. It’s kind of the entire point.
They are also going to limit to 3 active Points Advance reservations going forward (you can do 5 before Sept 14th which would be honored at existing rates). While I definitely dislike having to “pay current rates,” this part of the policy change should be good overall. By having less people tie up rooms night by night with PA reservations they may or may not really intend to use (just in case!), this should make more standard rooms available for more members.
- We are introducing “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” which replaces what has been known as “5th Night Free.” Members can redeem points for five consecutive nights and receive the lowest-point night for free.
This stinks. It should be an average of the 5 nights. You could have four nights at 100k and one at 70k and you only get 70k off.
About Off-Peak, Standard and Peak Points Redemption Rates:
- A majority of days throughout the year will remain in Standard and there will be even distribution between Off-Peak and Peak rates portfolio wide.
Portfolio-wide?! VERY interesting. I’m not sure how this will really play out but I suspect it means that we may see more of the aspirational properties at peak pricing more than regular ones. Meaning that the St Regis Maldives might never have an off peak day, balanced out by the Des Moines Marriott Downtown having only standard and off-peak pricing.
I guess we’ll have to see how that plays out but I find it very interesting that they are taking this approach. On balance, it’s clearly a move to allow them to charge more when they will pay the hotel more. From a business perspective I get it and I’m not going to quite run and scream DYNAMIC PRICING because, while it’s a baby step in that direction, it’s still fixed to category maximums and I applaud Marriott for that.
- The fewest number of points members will need for a free night stay will be 5,000 when the property is in Off-Peak. Members who redeem a free night for a category 8 property during an Off-Peak time will save up to 15,000 points when compared to the Standard rate.
- Standard rates will continue to start at 7,500 points per night and will be available a majority of the time year-round, throughout the portfolio.
- Peak rates will start at 10,000 points per night and are capped at no more than 15,000 points higher than Standard rates. Even popular destinations will offer Off-Peak rates during certain times of the year.
I don’t think I have much to add to the above. I will really want to see how that last part plays out, which would make my previous conjecture wrong – whichId be very happy to see.
Helpful Tips for Members:
- Starting September 14, members can search on Marriott.com or with the Marriott Bonvoy app to see if properties in the destination they want to travel after September 14 are in standard, peak or off-peak on specific dates. The flexible date finder on Marriott.com can be used to identify when a property is in off-peak so members can use fewer points when redeeming for a free night.
If you are interested, Marriott also created some video content around these changes.
New Award Chart
Cash + Points
You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? The MilesTalk “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.