I’ll caveat this post with a very large YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) because there have been plenty of people that have not been able to secure the Marriott 5 Night Travel Package that I wrote about in my Arbitrage post a while back.
Since the time of publishing that article, I have been able to successfully secure four 5 night packages. With the first package, I redeemed for Alaska Miles because of their amazing value and ability to redeem with great partner airlines. Packages 2-4 were used to redeem for American Airline Miles to help me secure my First and Business Class flights with Etihad.
I have had multiple comments and emails asking for help in securing these packages, so I thought I would write an article on how to go about it. I will also preface this by saying that even the people I have given these instructions to have not had success but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. I’m confident that if you are persistent enough, you’ll be able to get the package.
I also believe that the first package is the hardest to secure with each subsequent one becoming much easier. My working theory is that if a representative sees the package on your account already, they will simply just allow for additional packages to be added. I know through my interactions with agents that the 5-night package is something that can be added as long as the representative allows for it. This means that Marriott’s IT system doesn’t have a method for determining whether or not you are eligible. It’s at the agent’s discretion.
With that being said, let’s jump into how you can secure the Marriott 5 Night Travel Package.
Become a Member of Marriott’s Vacation Club
This method guarantees that you will be able to secure the package but you have to become a timeshare holder of Marriott’s Vacation Club. To me, this is a non-starter but there could be a few readers out there that have been looking to join a timeshare. I personally do not own a timeshare nor have I ever done research on them so I’m the wrong guy to ask if there’s good value in it or not.
The Marriott 5 Night Travel Package is intended to be a perk for Marriott Vacation Club (MVC) Members so if you are one, then it becomes a given that you can get one of these packages. Alternatively, if you are good friends with an MVC member, perhaps you could transfer Marriott points over to them and have them book the package for you. I cannot confess to knowing the ins and outs of this but be sure to check the rules associated with this because there may be a requirement that the names of the Marriott Rewards Program and the airline program match.
Call Vacations by Marriott Directly
You may not know this but when you call Marriott, you talk to one of three groups, Reservations, Marriott Rewards, or Vacations by Marriott. Most people call Reservations or Marriott Rewards unknowingly and from my experience, there is very little chance that you will be able to get the package this way. Both Reservations and Marriott Rewards seem to very adept at shooting you down immediately.
Rather than call Reservations or Marriott Rewards, call Vacations by Marriott directly. The number you should try is: 1-866-814-6901 … but before you make the call, read on for some tips.
When I was young, there was a radio station in Red Deer that had a contest where you would win pizza and movie tickets if you were the 7th caller and could place a movie quote they played. Being a guy that watched a lot of movies, the latter part was easy. Being the 7th caller was the tough part. The contest ran at the same time every day so I was sure to have the call in number on speed dial. Most often, I would be the 1st or 2nd caller. When that happened, rather than hang up in disappointment, I hung up and hit redial … over and over again. Lots of times, I would be the 7th caller and won a ton of prizes. In fact, they had to implement a rule that you couldn’t win within the last 30 days because of me.
I tell that story because that’s how I approach life. Consistent persistence.
When I call into Vacations by Marriott, I ask to book the Travel Package and inevitably they will offer the 7-night package. My first response is, “Actually, I was looking to book the 5-night package” and leave it at that. The agent will then probably say something to the effect of “the 5-night package is for MVC members only.”. At that point, I will press the agent with something like “is there any way I can get the 5-night package? I just don’t ever stay in any one city for longer than 5 days”.
At this point, you will reach a fork in the road. The agent will either try to help you out or they may stick to the rules. If it’s the latter, be polite and hang up. Then call again.
Keep on trying until you get an agent that is willing to help. For my first package, it took 3 calls. For packages 2-4, I placed a total of 2 calls. That being said, I would be willing to call 20x if I needed to.
Who knows, maybe you get lucky and when you ask for the 5-night package, the agents just goes ahead with the request.
When you’re on the phone with the Vacations by Marriott agent, don’t be memorable. Give them no reason to place a note on your account that documents what you are trying to do. I used to work in a call centre, and unless the guy/girl on the other line gave me a reason to document the call, I wouldn’t because I had a quota of calls to take and notes take time.
If you do make an impression, the agent will most likely note something like:
Customer called to inquire about 5 night package. Advised that package is for MVC members only but customer would not accept that the policy applied to him. If customer calls back, please do not allow him to book the 5 night package, as per policy.
Another trick that I sometimes employ is to be “accidentally” cut off from the call. It goes something like this.
Agent: I’m sorry, the 5-night package is only bookable by our Marriott Vacation Club Members.
You: Oh, I was under the impression that you cou [END CALL] ld book it.
When you end the call mid-word, it sounds a lot like a dropped call.
When I was an agent, dropped calls were not worth documenting.
Try Marriott’s Other International Lines
As reported by the Art of Travel Hacking, you may find success in trying to book the 5 Night Package with Marriott using their international lines. This is most likely because these agents are not as well trained as those in North America.
You can call internationally for about 1¢/minute using Skype.
Try the Europe office:
44 20 7012 7312
8:00am – 6:00pm, Monday – Friday (GMT)
9:00am – 5:30pm, Saturday (GMT)
10:30am – 7:00pm, Sunday (GMT)
If you are unsuccessful with Europe, try another region.
Personally, I feel that the 5-night package is a much better value than the 7-night package because I’m rarely in a city for 7-nights or more. I am much more likely to be able to use the 5-night package than I am the 7-night package.
That being said, if you stay in a location for 7-nights or longer, you’ll get amazing value with the 7-night package. In fact, the additional 2 nights only costs 35,000 additional Marriott Points, which is a very good deal.
You may have some troubles getting the 5-night package but know that it can be done so don’t give up.
Let me know in the comments if you are successful in securing the 5-night package so that other PointsNerd readers can share in your success!