Is Marriott Playing Games With Guaranteed Late Check-Out?

In April Marriott Rewards added some new benefits, including guaranteed late check-out, an experiences marketplace, and an elite concierge service. All three of these benefits are also offered by Starwood Preferred Guest, so it was refreshing to see Marriott actually adopt some aspects of the SPG program.

Marriott-Benefits

Perhaps the most substantive (and surprising) change was the addition of guaranteed late check-out for Gold and Platinum members. I was so excited when I saw the terms “guaranteed late check-out” and “4PM,” and thought to myself “great, Marriott is adopting Starwood’s late check-out policy.” This offers Gold and Platinum members guaranteed 4PM check-out, except at resorts and conference hotels, where it’s subject to availability.

But we quickly realized that the benefit wasn’t as generous as it sounded, and wasn’t much of a benefit at all (bolding mine):

The guaranteed late checkout benefit will be available to Gold and Platinum Elite members of both Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards who will enjoy a more seamless travel experience when planning their trip. These members will receive a guaranteed late checkout, which could be as late as 4pm.

In other words, the only thing that was guaranteed was that you’d get late check-out, but there was no guarantee as to how late of a check-out you’d be granted. If a hotel’s check-out time is 11AM, the hotel would be within the terms of the benefit to offer you a 12PM check-out.

SPG members are worried about the merger, and “benefits” like that only reinforced the fears of SPG members. At Starwood, guaranteed late check-out is actually a guarantee. Just guaranteeing some sort of late check-out isn’t actually much of a promise.

After some backlash, Marriott quickly updated their policy, and added guaranteed 4PM check-out to match Starwood’s policy:

Guaranteed Late Checkout
Gold and Platinum members may checkout as late as 4pm if they ask. This benefit is guaranteed at all participating Marriott Rewards hotels, except at resort and convention hotels, where it is based upon availability.  Marriott Vacation Club is excluded. Guaranteed late checkout launches globally onMay 16.

They said they’d offer guaranteed 4PM check-out globally starting May 16, except at resort and convention hotels, where it’s subject to availability.

However, based on some readers emails I’ve received, it seems like Marriott might not be executing this benefit very well.

Is Marriott backtracking on their guaranteed 4PM check-out?

A reader who is a Platinum member reached out regarding his correspondence with Marriott customer service. He sent the following email to Marriott;

I would like to clarify the late checkout policy. My understanding is that the guaranteed late checkout of 4pm is a guaranteed benefit for all hotels (except for convention and resort hotels), including Ritz Carlton properties. I called Marriott/Ritz Carlton Rewards a few weeks ago to confirm that. However, every time I have asked for a late checkout of 3 or 4pm at the Ritz Carlton Central Park or Battery Park as a Platinum member, they have said no. Could you please clarify this?

The response from Marriott read as follows:

Since travel schedules can be unpredictable, we offer you priority for late checkout.  Just call the front desk the morning of checkout with your planned departure time.  Available at all Marriott hotels except Marriott Vacation Club International and Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club.  At The Ritz-Carlton, a two-hour extension is offered based on availability when requested the morning of checkout (not available at resorts). You can find this by going to  www.marriottrewards.com and clicking on “Marriott Rewards Terms and Conditions” or by using this link.

The reader responded with the following:

Is the guaranteed 4pm late checkout for Platinum members when requested at check-in not a guarantee? Or does it not apply to Ritz Carlton properties?

Because they have not been providing the 4pm guaranteed late checkout benefit when requested.

Marriott responded as follows:

No, priority late check-out is not a guarantee and not available at Ritz-Carlton.  It is provided if available.

At The Ritz-Carlton, a two-hour extension is offered based on availability when requested the morning of checkout (not available at resorts).

Incorrect information from a single point of contact at a hotel chain is common, though he also followed up with Marriott on Twitter. Here’s how that conversation went, after the initial contact he made with him:

Marriott DM: I am sending you a link with the Platinum member benefits. Reviewing it states when a benefit is not offered the hotel brand will not be listed. Ritz Carlton is not listed for late check-out so according to the terms & conditions, you can request “late check-out.” As with all hotels, it’s subject to availability.

Reader DM: I’m confused — if it’s subject to availability, then it’s not really guaranteed? I thought it was guaranteed to all Platinum members as long as it’s requested at check-in?

Marriott DM: The late check out request would have to be requested before your arrival.

Reader DM: Ok so a 4PM late checkout should be guaranteed then if I request before arrival?

Marriott DM: You should be guaranteed late check out up to 4PM when you request it before you check-in.

Reader DM: Thanks, but I’m trying to clarify, what does “up to 4PM mean?” Is 4PM guaranteed or not? Because even when I call beforehand to ask of ra 4PM checkout, they say no, only 1PM or 2PM is possible. Just trying to understand what is guaranteed because it doesn’t seem like even the hotels are clear on this policy.

Marriott DM: The statement up to 4PM is based on the availability at the time of the request. The property may only be able to allow a late check-out as late as 1PM, as it is based on the availability at the property.

My gosh these reps are playing word games, it’s pathetic.

What do Marriott’s terms actually say?

When you look at the terms that the above representatives refer to, I can certainly see why there’s confusion:

Guaranteed Late Checkout

Make advance requests on our mobile app for guaranteed checkout as late as 4pm.

This benefit is guaranteed at all hotels, except at resort and convention hotels, where it is based upon availability. Marriott Vacation Club is excluded from this benefit.

If Marriott actually wanted to deliver on this benefit in a straightforward way, maybe they should also learn from Starwood about how to phrase this benefit:

4p.m. late checkout, subject to availability at resort and conference center hotels.

That sounds much more straightforward than saying “as late as,” no?

My correspondence with Marriott

I reached out to Marriott PR to see whether the policy had changed or what was going on (in regards to the above correspondence), and received the following response:

To clarify, Ritz Carlton properties are included in the guaranteed 4pm late check out for Platinum Elite members, when requested upon check-in. It’s in our terms and conditions. We believe that the people corresponding with the guest were quoting the priority late checkout offered for Silver Elite Members which is not guaranteed. We appreciate you reaching out to look into it.

So guaranteed 4PM check-out it supposed to be a benefit for Gold and Platinum members at all non-resort/convention hotels. Ritz-Carlton properties are included under this benefit.

Bottom line

While I commend Marriott for adding this benefit, it seems like the execution leaves a bit to be desired. I’d say they need to retrain their staff, but the terms are even written in a confusing way, so I think it goes beyond that.

Has anyone else run into issues being granted late check-out with Marriott? It would be interesting to gather more data points.

Comments

  1. Ugh. I HATE when hotels screw people over when all we are doing is asking for a benefit that we are guaranteed. And it’s not like we haven’t earned it, if we are platinum we’ve stayed 75+ nights at your properties each year!

  2. *rolls eyes*

    It’s only included if the hotel you’re staying at gives it to you. If it’s a benefit, then it’s a benefit and needs to be provided. If it isn’t provided by the hotels, then it’s not a benefit.

  3. @Robert Drummer not all Marriott Platinum members have access to AMEX FHR

    @Daniel part of the point of loyalty programs and hotel networks is to have similar benefits across hotels – benefits like guaranteed 4pm late checkout. It’s frustrating for someone, especially if they spend a decent amount of time in hotels, to spend time to find out if a particular hotel will honor 4pm late checkout or not. Why be loyal to Marriott if another program can offer it without as much hassle?

  4. How about my last stay at a Hilton in Italy? Check-in time: 3PM / Check-out time: 10AM Are you kidding me? That is only 19 hours of stay. This is getting ridiculous. They should start charging per hour. I am really sad that Marriott will definitely destroy the best brand in the hotel business once they finally close the deal with Starwood.

  5. The fact that Marriott is extending this benefit and not being honest and forthright about its poor execution is not encouraging to SPG elites. The fact that the hotels in question already are accustomed to guaranteeing 4 pm late checkout anyway for Amex FHR cardmembers and are not providing the same benefit to Marriott elites is also pretty sad….and doesn’t speak well to Ritz Carlton senior management nor Marriott corporate management.

    There is no reason that Marriott should have any issues offering this late checkout. If the every StR, W, and LuxCollection property in the world can do it, then any Ritz Carlton or other Marriott can do it, too.

  6. Back in April one manager of a prominent Marriott property told me, “Yeah, we’re not gonna do that.”

    The announcement of late checkout as a benefit came as a total surprise to him, this wasn’t apparently rolled out internally first at least i a way that made it to the consciousness of the people on the front lines.

    Whether or not Marriott gets there is going to depend on whether they both educate and enforce. It depends on their commitment level. The roll out was ham-handed, the education hasn’t been consistent it seems. So it remains an open question how this benefit will materialize.

  7. Thanks for clarifying Ben. I guess the last question is – what recourse (if any) do we have if the property denies the benefit? Doesn’t seem like there is any 🙁

  8. As a spg plat, im watching with great interest. If marriott makes the merger in favor of their old ways, i will be dropping them all together.

    In fact, it looks like it and im already near the exit door and reports like this is pushing me further away fr marriott. Why did they even bother buying starwood if they r so keen in stamping the marriott ways?

  9. Last two hotels I’ve booked through FHR tried to pull fast ones on me with late checkout, with different front desk staff calling me repeatedly in my room after 12pm asking when I was going to be checking out. This despite my confirming the 4pm late checkout upon arrival at each place. Needless to say, I was pretty miffed.

    The Marriott in Toronto I stayed at last month was super generous with late checkout, even offering 5pm when I asked for 3pm. Was a nice surprise.

  10. The long settlement period for the merger/acquisition has enabled many to establish or consolidate status in other programs, hedging bets in respect of the likely lowering of benefits. I would be sad to see the demise of SPG but won’t lose too much sleep given the opportunities/quality elsewhere.
    In respect of this issue, you got it right in one word: pathetic.

  11. You really let the PR rep off the hook easily.

    From the exchange, the Original Poster pushed the service agents far enough to extract the necessary information to implicate them.

    PR took the easy way out and blamed a “silver status confusion” but it is clear as day there was no confusion over status levels since 4 pm is not an offered benefit for them at all and there is no chance of a service agent even engaging talk of 4 pm “guaranteed” subject to availability checkout for a Silver member.

    At this point, 4 pm late checkout cannot be considered an actual benefit. Also it would help if bloggers stopped referring to Marriott’s breakfast benefit. There are more Marriott brands and hotels (absolute numbers) that *don’t* provide breakfast for 75 night Platinums than do. The one’s that don’t include all Ritz, all Editions, all Courtyards, all resorts of any brand. So that’s really the bulk of their heavy lifting business hotels, all of their resorts and nearly all of their luxury portfolio.

  12. Marriott is testing the water with SPG clients.

    How much will we put up with?

    Will we grow tired of complaining/asking and just deal with the maybe, maybe not 4pm check out?

    What percentage will leave SPG?

    There is no clear answer at this time, regardless of the lies they are spouting. Marriott will strip the good parts of SPG clean and leave us out to dry with their CRAPPY Marriot Rewards program. Its unfortunate that some of my fav hotels are with SPG.

    I’ve been an SPG Elite since 2002. I’ve already reduced my SPG nights by 90% this year and many others have…so Marriott, continue to play your games.

    Value can be found elsewhere.

  13. I did not take them up on it, but At my most recent stay earlier this week, I received an email from the hotel’s operational excellence manager asking me if I needed late checkout and they would be happy to arrange it. This email was sent to me on my first night there. Not sure if it’s because I am platinum elite or if this Marriott is just proactive.

  14. Antagonizing your most loyal customers is a sure recipe for business failure. Are we all going to carry laminated copies of the T&C?

  15. My GOD that exchange with Marriott was frustrating to read! Lame. I’m gold at Marriott, diamond at Hyatt (challenge), platinum at SPG (earned/nights), and so far this year I’ve moved all stays possible to Hyatt. Marriott is welcome to ruin SPG, but not with *my* money.

    @Canuck – “Operational excellence manager?” Is that really a thing? Like, was that IN the email? LOL!

  16. I am a Marriott Gold and just completed at stay at a local Fairfield Inn in the Portland, OR area. I requested late checkout at the time of my e-checkin and followed up in the morning for late checkout. The “best” they could offer was 2pm. So much for their revised 4pm policy.

  17. Last Wednesday at the Residence Inn Mew York Manhattan / Midtown East I tried to secure a late check out for the next day (I’m a Marriott Platinum). I was told that I needed to request it the next morning, based on availability. I asked about the guarantee, and they replied it was based on availability, day of only. I never even had the chance to tell them I was shooting for a 1pm check out. I was able to secure that time the next morning, though not without an eye roll and a heavy sigh.

  18. I recently stayed at the “classic” Key Bridge Marriott. I asked for a 3PM checkout and the desk clerk said she’d set it for 4pm anyway. No drama.

  19. @TravelinWilly – yep, that’s the title in the email signature – that’s why I remembered it! Haha

  20. I hate it when they say “depends on availability, call that morning.”
    I’m a late night person, and schedule late afternoon flights for that reason. I highly valued late checkout as a benefit, but if I have to set an alarm and wake up early to get it, it totally defeats the purpose. (I also rise too late for most breakfasts, so have reluctantly had to admit that’s not a valuable perk for me.)

  21. On my last stay I couldn’t check in until 5pm thanks to you late check outers. Wait until the shoe is on the other foot.

  22. Bunch of babies. Wah wah…my company pays for all my stays. I’m entitiled…Marriott owes me something. Wah wah wah….I want late checkout. If all you guys want guaranteed late checkout and it’s all gold and platinums whom occupy the best rooms….then everyone is hot and bothered when guaranteed checkin time come around at 4 and your upgraded rooms aren’t available. Wah wah wah wah. Threaten to leave Marriott and stay at Hyatt and Hilton please go it free up rooms for the rest of us that aren’t little bitches. Leave because Hilton and Hyatt as they grow will not do the same (then you can threaten to leave them too!). Hotels run a business, next time I deal with one of your companies and they make a mistake of any kind I will ask them for free breakfast, a free night stay, points, let me see how they react to my complaint and/or not even blink an eye. You platinum so are of the worst kind and the gold member are like the little step brother who wishes someone cared about them. Wah wah wah.

  23. Don’t know. Never had any problems. Even before this benefit was made public, I had requested late check-out as a Plat Elite Life many times and never had trouble receiving it.

  24. Yep. Just had an issue in Barcelona. I said this isn’t a question of availability. It’s gursnteed as of May worldwide with few exceptions that don’t apply here. He then tried the we can’t offer this on the night shift. Annoying. As to guy above so called us cry babies – how are we crying by asking a company to stand by its word AND train its staff? As far as the ” other foot” and checking in at 5:00 because of late checkout guests – that’s ridiculous. Is it your thought that every room was occupied by a platinum member exercising this benefit that most hotels don’t seem to know about? Please. This is more likely a function of understaffing housekeeping to save money. Additionally, and as someone stated before, why can other chains do this and still checkin people at the normal time?

    Ben, I’m not sure I saw an answer to this. What is the recourse when these terms are not honored? I hate to keep talking about Starwood, but it’s the company I know best, and there you open a file and the hotel has 5 days to respond. What’s the process with Marriott for issues like this? Thanks!

    So

  25. Just stayed at a Marriott Full Service in Denver. I was on call in the room and wanted to get some extra time to pack. I called down and asked for a late checkout. the attendant said that since the hotel was fully booked the best she could do was 2:00PM. So…I checked out and 2:00PM. On the way out I asked one of the folks at the front desk about the 4:00 PM policy and he said, “of course for elite members we can extend you checkout to 4:00PM.” I was already packed and on the way out so politely declined. I guess this is something that you need to insist on and don’t back down. Also, in this case, I didn’t ask at check-in, which I’m hearing is a requirement? Very strange ruleset. I have to say that in general, I’m not very satisfied with the Marriott program.

  26. well, they are still at it…. denying late check out. I have ONE MILLION points with them, and am platinum elite. Booked a room in SOUTH DAKOTA in the desert in Rapid CIty at Res Inn; and had a 7 pm flite out. Asked for 4 pm late check in advance, and if they would keep it to 5 pm as a courtesy. Answer, NO. Noon is the out. Be out or pay for another NIGHT if you want to leave at 4 or 5 pm. “Our maid staff leaves at 4 pm and no one to make up the rooms”. “and we have only two rooms left for that night” meaning they want the money cause they can’t make up the room. Really??? Bad, Bad, Bad. I have written customer service, we will see. I am at the exit door on my marriott stays and my marriott rewards card. 30 years and over 100 nations, and the first time I ask for a late out, NO NO NO. How many others get this as well?

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