It’s normal for the major hotel loyalty programs to make annual hotel category changes. With these changes they’re not adjusting the number of points required for a stay at a particular category of hotel, but rather are changing which hotels are in which categories. Earlier today I shared the details of Starwood Preferred Guest’s 2018 hotel category changes, which weren’t too bad. 276 hotels were changing categories, with slightly more hotels moving down in price than up in price.
Marriott Rewards has now shared the details of their 2018 category changes, which are a bit worse.
Marriott Rewards 2018 hotel category changes
It’s probably worth mentioning off the bat that historically Marriott Rewards is pretty brutal when it comes to their annual category adjustments. In my experience they consistently move more hotels up than down, and in particular, move many decent hotels out of Categories 1-5, which is where most of their free night certificates are valid. So even without changing the number of points required for a stay at a particular category, this is a way that the Marriott Rewards program is quietly devalued year after year.
Marriott Rewards’ 2018 category apply for bookings made as of March 6, 2018, giving members nearly a month to make bookings before these changes kick in. Members can make reservations for dates after the changes kick in, as the deadline is based on when you book and not when you stay.
In 2018, 1,330 Marriott Rewards hotels will be changing categories, which represents about 26% of their hotels. With these changes, about 81% of hotels will be moving up in category, and 19% of hotels will be moving down in category (OUCH!). Here’s how Marriott describes the changes:
- Among properties participating in Marriott Rewards, 5% are decreasing by one category and 21% are increasing by one category with 74% remaining unchanged.
- 72% of all hotels will remain in Categories 1-5 in which cardholders of Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card receive a one night free stay every year after their account anniversary.
To compare these changes to Marriott Rewards adjustments in the previous two years:
- With Marriott’s 2016 hotel category changes, roughly 800 Marriott hotels changed in price, with roughly 70% moving up in price and 30% moving down in price
- With Marriott’s 2017 hotel category changes, roughly 1,100 Marriott hotels changed in price, with roughly 60% moving up in price and 40% moving down in price
This year we’re not only seeing more hotels change categories, but we’re also seeing a higher percentage of hotels go up in price rather than down in price. That’s rough.
The Fairfield Inn Key West will be a Category 9 (Marriott’s highest category)
For reference, here’s the Marriott Rewards redemption chart:
And here’s the chart for Ritz-Carlton properties:
While these category changes are an annual thing, I feel like Marriott Rewards is one of the worse programs both in terms of the number of properties where they make adjustments, and also in terms of the percentage of properties where we see increases. These changes are supposed to reflect the projected occupancy and daily rates at their hotels over the coming year, so it’s interesting that the percent of properties going up in price is significantly higher than virtually all of their competitors, and even significantly higher than at Starwood.
I’m curious to hear what the Marriott loyalists think about these changes.
Are there any hotels that you like to redeem at that are changing category?