We’re getting to the witching hour of hotel programs, that time of year when companies announce changes to their plans for the following year and hope to slip any negatives by you. Here’s what Marriott has in store.*
Note that, as expected, the programs won’t be merging in 2018 and, as of this point, you won’t be able to get Marriott points at Starwood hotels (or vice versa). And when they do combine, probably in 2019, I would expect the Ritz Carlton program to be folded in, so the entire company has one plan, not three.
Platinum Elite and Platinum Premier Elite** members will get status in Hertz’s rental car program. Personally, I don’t think Hertz does such a great job anymore and certainly don’t get a lot of value from them, but others may find them useful.
If you have Marriott Platinum (or Starwood Platinum, since one gets you the other automatically), you will earn Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star, which, among other things, gets you a one-category upgrade when you rent from them.
If you have Platinum Premier status,** you will receive Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle status, which seems to be very similar to the one above, with the added benefit that you get guaranteed confirmed availability when booking 48-hours out.
Goodbye Rollover Nights
The bigger change, though, is a negative: Marriott is ending Rollover Nights (RN) after this year. Each year, any excess nights you have over your elite status “roll over” to start your status for the next year. For example, you need 50 nights to earn Gold Status and 75 to earn Platinum. So if you stay 60 nights in 2017, you will have 10 “excess nights” above your current threshold. Those 10 nights would shift to 2018, giving you a head start for the next year. And it gets better: Those nights count toward your lifetime elite status in both years. So you would get 60 nights toward lifetime elite in 2017, plus at least another 10 in 2018. 60 nights get you 70!
Sadly, that is coming to an end after this year. You’ll still get as many nights as you earn each year, but the counter will also reset to zero every January 1.
And why are they making that change? Well, according to Marriott:
We are dedicated to delivering quality and consistency for our most loyal members. These changes will help ensure that we continue to provide exceptional Elite experiences during every stay. We want to ensure our most loyal Marriott Rewards and Starwood Elite members who have linked their accounts and matched their status enjoy their earned Elite benefits such as lounge access and room upgrades on a consistent basis.
I’m not sure what that has to do with making it more difficult to get elite status, but there’s no reason that they couldn’t have kept the benefit.
*As a quick reminder, Marriott and Starwood recently merged, but haven’t combined their programs yet.
**Beginner’s Hint: Most travel companies have “secret statuses” that you can’t earn. Rather, they have to be given to you by senior management at the particular company. Qualifiers usually include being either an extremely high-spending customer yourself (particularly with the airlines) or being a travel decision maker at your company. Platinum Premier is one such status, although its actual benefits are unclear.
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