Marriott Offers Elite Status Boost, Temporarily Drops Off Peak Award Rates

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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.

The RItz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

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!

Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco

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%.

[Expired] 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:

CategoryOFF-PEAKSTANDARDPEAK
15,0007,50010,000
210,00012,50015,000
315,00017,50020,000
420,00025,00030,000
530,00035,00040,000
640,00050,00060,000
750,00060,00070,000
870,00085,000100,000

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:

CategoryOFF-PEAKSTANDARDPEAK
14,5007,50010,000
29,00012,50015,000
313,50017,50020,000
418,00025,00030,000
527,00035,00040,000
636,00050,00060,000
745,00060,00070,000
863,00085,000100,000

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.

‘Extreme Wow' Suite, W Singapore – Sentosa Cove

Bottom Line

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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Comments

  • Avatar

    Would be interested to know if this if/how these deal apply to the newly announced all inclusive properties being added to marriott’s portfolio.
    Thanks!

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    Glad to see some incentive to travel now that vaccines are rolling out. I don’t think our company will ever allow travel to the level of the past.

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    Looks like a low-risk change for Marriott.

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    Just be sure to check the cash price as well. Those have often been reduced correspondingly and so the reduced award rates may still not be the best deal for you.

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    Already booked! Thanks for the reminder!

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    There are some good opportunities in some Marriott hotels but I think it’s still to early to book something.
    Nowadays I tend to book my coming trips (quite few in comparison to a couple of years ago) some days before.

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    Jessica Arbai says:

    Marriott is truly one of the better hotel-chains out there with incredible offers and perks

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    Lots of good offers. Still a rough time to travel though, but good for people who do have necessary travel.

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    IGNACIO MEDINA says:

    I do not think they´ve done much, “peak” season is not gonna exist at least for the next two or three years until COVID-19 get kind of sorted and vaccines start rolling out massively.

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    With all of the negative changes Marriott has made in the past, it is hard to get excited for temporary band-aids and offers, knowing that they will likely change as soon as travel picks up again. I’m sticking with Hyatt and Hilton.

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    For me it is particularly interesting the drop of the off-peak redemption rate.
    This because I think I won’t reach some elite level with the Bonvoy programme.

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    This is a sign that Bonvoy isn’t completely tone deaf, but some hurdles remain unreasonably high.

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    Even with the free elite night credits, doubtful that I will be able to maintain my status level. My company has cancelled all travel at least through March so far.

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    Man, I wish this was always this easy to get to high membership level! If only I could travel anywhere now… Still remember the times I had to stay much more than half of the requested amount of nights, even with special promos and challenges offered by Marriott!

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    Will there actually be “peak” travel periods in 2021?

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      Right?! Marriott is still charging Peak rates for many hotels and many dates.

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        it’s super interesting to me. Some other chains actually have their new charts even lower than 2020!

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          @Jon, yes, I think that’s because this has gone on long enough that they’re now fighting against two things in 2021. They need to both convince folks it’s safe to travel again, which will happen, but also somehow overcome new habits that people and businesses have formed that involve less travel. We should be in a period of significant offers for quite some time.

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      It depends I think! Arguably some non-business hotels, e.g resorts may be busier than ever as people avoid travelling overseas.

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      By definition every property should be off-peak right now.

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    All things considered, these are good moves by Marriott. I do agree with Bill though, there are some thresholds that are still tough though for many.

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    I agree, it would have been nice to see a 10% discount bonus on all award bookings this year.

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    $14,000 is still a very high threshold considering most companies haven’t resumed business travel yet (and probably won’t until Q3 of this year). Wondering how many ambassador members does Marriott plan to retain this year…

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      Me too. And especially as the Ambassador Elites I know have been really disappointed by their Ambassador service (or lack thereof) recently.