Back on September 14, 2019, Marriott introduced the idea of dynamic pricing for its free-night redemptions. This meant that each Marriott property had the option of changing their award prices based on demand.
As an example, in the old Marriott Redemption Award chart, hotels in Tokyo could only charge the price denoted based on the hotel’s category. This meant that during the 2020 Olympic Games, hotels could not ask for more points on a redemption stay even though demand would be through the roof. Hotels got around this by only offering up a limited inventory of rooms but Marriott tended to frown upon that practice and it wasn’t a very fun thing for loyal Marriott members.
Now, in the new system, Marriott hotels, while still bound within their category, now have a way of charging more during peak periods through the new Marriott Redemption Chart.
Most people viewed this as a negative development but with anything in life, it depends on how you use the information.
Often times with this hobby, you tend to travel during off-peak periods because that’s when there’s good flight award availability so there’s a good chance you can actually use this new chart to your advantage.
A Quick Check to Save Thousands
I was taking a look at my upcoming reservations for the Ritz Carlton Residence Honolulu in January. When I booked the hotel about a month ago, the total price was 450,000 Marriott points for a 10-night stay. I’ve removed some details from the booking to protect my privacy but each night cost me between 50,000 and 60,000 points.
Remember, with Marriott award stays, every 5th night is free when you book 4 nights in a row so I only actually pay for 8 nights during my Honolulu stay. That works out to 56,250 points a night (450,000 / 8 nights).
A couple of days ago, I was double checking my bookings and my curiosity got the better of me. I wondered if the price for my award stay had changed, so I searched for a new award booking with the same dates of travel. To my surprise, the cost of the room was actually 10,000 points cheaper!
I quickly booked the cheaper rate, cancelled my existing award, and pocketed 10,000 Marriott points for my troubles. I checked the remainder of my other award stays and all of them had gone up in price so I was quite content to leave them as is but you’d better bet that I’ll be checking them periodically to see if can save some more points.
I’ve been burned before so what I would recommend is that if you come across this situation; book the lower rate first before cancelling your original booking. I would also recommend you continually check your bookings prior to your stay to make sure the pricing doesn’t drop. Remember you can only do this up until the no-penalty cancellation date of your hotel booking.
I called into my Marriott Ambassador and he has confirmed that hotels have the ability to update their peak and off-peak dates daily so prices can change at any time. If you have the time, keep checking back on your booking because there can be up to a 15,000 point drop per day, which can be pretty substantial.
I’m a pretty curious person at heart so I’m always looking into the nuances of all the programs that I participate in. Hopefully, someone uses the information from this post to save themselves some Marriott points. Good luck!