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Marriott just announced a string of major updates for the Bonvoy program in 2021. Among the changes are a 50% head start towards Bonvoy status for 2020 elites, a lowered spending threshold for earning Ambassador Elite, lowered Off Peak and PointSaver Off Peak redemption rates.
Like other travel companies, Marriott has its work cut-out to get travelers back to its properties. Let's take a look at all the details to see how they've done with these latest updates.
50% Bonus Elite Night Credits
In June 2020, Marriott pulled an innovative move by gifting Bonvoy members 50% of the elite nights required for the status tier earned in 2019. So, even with Bonvoy extending 2020 status through February 2022, members could reach the next elite tier more easily.
Now that 2021 has arrived and traveling is still difficult, Bonvoy has decided to do this again. In February 2021, members with elite status in 2020 will receive 50% of the elite nights required for their status. This means 2020 elites can expect to see the following credits deposited in their account:
- Members — 0 Elite Night Credits
- Silver Elite Members — 5 Elite Night Credits
- Gold Elite Members — 13 Elite Night Credits
- Platinum Elite Members — 25 Elite Night Credits
- Titanium Elite Members — 38 Elite Night Credits
- Ambassador Elite Members — 50 Elite Night Credits
The idea is to give Marriott loyalists a headstart towards earning status in 2021. With Marriott co-branded cardholders now receiving up to 30 Elite Night Credits for holding multiple cards, some folks may even end up re-qualifying without a single hotel stay!
Lowered Ambassador Spending Threshold
Ambassador Elite is Marriott Bonvoy's top status for its most loyal members, and the qualifications reflect that. Not only do members need 100 Elite Night Credits, but members also need to spend at least $20,000.
In light of the current travel situation, Marriott is adjusting the latter qualification in 2021. This year, members will only need to register $14,000 in stay spend (plus the 100 Elite Nights) to earn Bonvoy Ambassador Elite.
This is a smart move by Marriott since most people won't be able to spend nearly as much this year. However, I expected the threshold to be lowered by 50% (like the ENC requirement) instead of 30%.
Reduced Off Peak Redemption Rates
Bonvoy award redemptions operate on a category system. First, Marriott assigns every property a category from 1 through 8. This determines the hotel's award rate, which is then split between Off Peak, Standard, and Peak pricing.
Marriott's standard award chart:
For the next month, Marriott is lowering the Off Peak rate for all properties by 10%.
This means the Bonvoy award chart will temporary be this:
For a booking to qualify for this discounted award rate, it needs to fall within the following timeline:
- Book an Off Peak award between January 11, 2021 and February 21, 2021 for a stay between January 11, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
Unfortunately, Standard and Peak awards will remain the same for the same time period.
Lowered PointSaver Off Peak Rates
Marriott is also lowering the PointSaver Off Peak redemption rates for Category 5, 7, and 8 properties in 2021—but not much. The PointSaver Off Peak rate for category 5 and 7 properties will be 1,000 points lower per night, and the PointSaver Off Peak rate for category 8 properties will be 3,000 points lower. This brings the new rates down to:
- Category 5 — 26,500 points
- Cat. 7 — 44,000 points
- Cat. 8 — 62,000 points
At first glance, this may seem somewhat random. However, it appears that Marriott simply lowered these rates to ensure that the PointSaver Off Peak rates continue to be lower than the standard Off Peak rates.
Marriott is giving a 50% head start towards Bonvoy status to all 2020 elite members, lowering the spend requirement for Ambassador Elite, and reducing Off Peak award pricing for qualifying stays. All of these updates serve to incentivize loyalty members to book their 2021 travel with Marriott. But did they hit the mark?
I like Marriott's idea of giving 2020 elites a head-start towards status in 2021. With the goal-posts moved closer, it's easier to contemplate pursuing Bonvoy elite status—even amidst continued travel restrictions. I also think the lowered spend requirement for Ambassador Elite makes sense, although I expected it to be even lower.
The one facet I'm not impressed with is the relatively insignificant 10% discount on Off Peak redemptions. Why not discount all award bookings by 10% for the same (limited) timeframe? By limiting the discount to Off Peak awards, it makes it fairly difficult to find qualifying availability.
Lastly, it's worth mentioning that Marriott has already teased several details of its next Global Promotion. It includes the ability to earn double points and elite night credits for qualifying stays—making it even easier to reach that next elite tier in 2021. The promotion is scheduled to go live on January 16, 2020; we'll post the details here once we know more.
How do you feel about Marriott Bonvoy's 2021 updates?
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