Marriott Rewards has just announced their 2014 hotel category adjustments, which kick in for stays booked on or after April 8, 2014. That means you can still book award nights at the old rates through April 7, even if you don’t have enough points or reward certificates in your account.
Here’s what they’ve posted in their Marriott Rewards Insiders community:
- All redemption reservations booked on or before April 7, 2014 will be honored at the current point price, even if the stay occurs after April 8. 2014. If you have not ordered your certificate prior to April 8, 2014, call Guest Services prior to your stay to request the lower priced certificate.
- As always, you may book redemption reservations up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required points in your account.
- You can also use Cash + Points to take advantage of booking your redemption stay early.
To clarify, this doesn’t impact the number of points required per free night at a certain category of hotels, but rather shifts the number of hotels in each category. Per their FAQ:
How many hotels are affected?
73% of the properties remain unchanged
66% of the programs properties will remain in Categories 1-4
27% of the hotels are changing; of these 22% are decreasing by one category and 78% are increasing by one category
Ouch! So over a quarter of their hotels are changing in category, and of those 78% are moving up in cost. That means that net ~21% of properties are moving up in price, which I’d consider to be a pretty substantial devaluation. Admittedly it could have been worse — they could have increased the number of points required for a stay at a certain category hotel, or worse, added another award category or two.
It’s certainly better than last year, where they added a Category 9 to their award chart and net ~35% of their properties moved up in price. But I guess an increase in the number of points is to be expected, with occupancy and room rates at a near all time high.
To put this into perspective, Starwood announced their 2014 category changes several weeks ago, and 56% of properties went up in price, while 44% of properties went down in price. Meanwhile when Hyatt announced their 2014 category changes, 21 hotels went up in price while 17 went down in price, though in fairness that was also in the context of a devaluation, so it was especially mild.
I’m not a Marriott guy, so I’d be curious to hear what Marriott loyalists think of this. Better than expected, or a frustrating increase?