I, like many of you, received an email from Marriott this morning detailing their current push to bring customers back to their hotels. With COVID-19 having a devastating effect on travel, hotels have been hit as hard as airlines with many temporarily closing due to a lack of guests. It’s no wonder that many chains are now trying to entice their guests back.
Points Saving on Bookings
Marriott has put over 5,500 of their properties in “off-peak” for stays until July 31, 2020, if you book between June 15-30, 2020. That means you can save a lot of points if you happen to be taking in a long stay between now and July 31st, like I am.
I am currently scheduled for a 10-night stay in a Category 6 hotel in Vancouver towards the end of this month and was booked in for the Standard rate of 50,000 points/night. As with all Marriott award stays, when you book 4 nights, the 5th night is free so I was on the hook for 400,000 points (50,000 x 8).
After seeing the promotional email, I cancelled my original booking and rebooked for the same dates but now at “off-peak” pricing.
The total for the stay is now 320,000 Marriott points, a savings of 80,000 points, or 20% off.
This is a bit of a niche situation but if you are:
- Staying for 5, 10, 15, 20 or any increment of 5-nights AND
- You have a free night certificate from either a credit card benefit or elite night benefit AND
- Your hotel’s per night redemption cost is less than the value of your certificate
Exercise caution when you get to check-out. By default, Marriott will attempt to use your free night certificate. If you use that free night certificate, you will replace the free night from your Redeem for 4 Nights and Get the 5th Free benefit.
If you aren’t careful, you will literally throw away a free night for nothing so exercise caution.
Status members are the lifeblood of any loyalty program and Marriott is no different. They are desperate to keep their top-tier members so they have devised another promotion to keep their members engaged.
This promotion is targetted at those that already have status with Marriott from the 2019 Qualifying Year (2019 Calendar Year). If you have status, Marriott will be gifting you 50% of your Elite Night Credit (ENCs) to help you make it to the next tier.
Let’s try some examples:
If you stayed 75 nights in 2019, you would be a Titanium Member. Your status would extend to February 28, 2022, due to the COVID situation. This means that you don’t have to stay another night at a Marriott to keep your Titanium status for 2020 – 2021 but to incentivize you to keep staying at Marriotts, they are gifting you 38 ENCs (50% of 75) to entice you to qualify for Titanium or Ambassador status during the 2020 Qualifying Year. This benefits you in that you can earn your threshold benefits (Suite Night Awards and Free Night Certificates) at 50 nights and 75 nights. You also have the added benefit of potentially qualifying for Ambassador status … if you happen to have $20,000 in spend at Marriott hotels.
To me, this really benefits those at the Gold and Silver levels because it makes qualifying for Platinum that much easier and Platinum is the level where you receive lounge access at most hotels. As I have written before, lounge access is a pretty big benefit for those that like to save money on breakfast and snacks while traveling. It’s especially great for families because saving money at breakfast over a long stay can really add up.
For a current Gold member, you would already have 13 nights (from the promotion) towards your Platinum status, which is granted at 50 nights. If you add those 13 nights to the 15 ENCs you receive for getting the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, that would give you 28 nights, leaving you just 22 shy of Platinum status.
Now … if you were creative and took advantage of the Points Savings on Bookings Promotion, perhaps you could find a Category 1 hotel and book 22 nights for 90 Marriott points (remember the 5th night is free). Boom, you now have Platinum status and a hotel room for the good part of a month.
For those that want to really save your points, it’s not uncommon for rates to fall below the off-peak price. I won’t give away the hotel or dates but here’s one that was found recently.
If you can find that rate, you would only need to spend 72,000 Marriott points for the 28 ENCs to get to Platinum in the example above.
COVID sucks a lot but those that are keeping up to date with promotions from airlines and hotels can really cash in on the need for these programs to attract and retain their top-tier members. As with all promotions, take advantage if it makes sense for you. I have personally saved 80,000 points with this promotion already and it’s likely to come into play when I decide where I am staying for the remainder of 2020.