Marriott announces major award changes

Posted on August 15, 2019 by in Travel Deals

In the past year, Marriott has constantly been adjusting its loyalty program. This winter they announced Marriott Bonvoy as the name behind their combined loyalty program. After the announcement of Marriott Bonvoy, they introduced Category 8 award pricing, meaning that the free night awards could go up as high as 85,000 points.

Peak and Off-Peak Pricing

Starting September 14 Marriott is putting into motion their plan for peak and off-peak pricing on their award categories. Hotels will offer three different rates, peak rate, standard rate and the off-peak rate which could vary depending on the season and the location. This will affect all Marriott owned hotels. A statement from the Marriott headquarters tries to re-assure loyalty members that peak and off-peak dates will be balanced. However many commenters point out that this creates huge uncertainty about properties choosing to be peak or non-peak arbitrarily..

They also released a YouTube video regarding this change:

The most important changes to keep in mind

–      If you are staying for 5 nights or longer, the cheapest night will now be free – ‘Stay for 5, pay for 4’, where previously the 5th night was free
–        Hotels will not manually assign their peak and off-peak dates, they designed an algorithm to do that. The system will assign peak, off-peak or standard prices based on the demand of the hotel in question

–        Cash + Point pricing was changed

Cash + Point Changes

Cash and points have been updated as well. The cash price will now be fixed always while the points will vary depending on if it is the peak, standard or off-peak pricing. Depending on the hotel you choose, time of the year and if that time falls into peak, off-peak or standard pricing for the hotel of your choice the points will vary. For example, if the hotel is less busy you would be able to stay for the fixed amount of cash and off-peak points. On the other hand, if it is peak season the cash price stays but peak points are used which are quite higher.

Marriott published a video on this topic as well:

Points Advance

The Points Advance program will stay in place, although due to all the changes it might become useless. As Marriott explained in the video, “With Points Advance you’re locking in the room, not the rate.” What that means for you is that you will be able to book your room but the award pricing will be based on the award rate at that time. That means that the Points Advance pricing will be based on the time you use your points instead of when you booked the room. Also, the Marriott now added the limit of the 3 points Advance Reservations at once as a maximum, which before didn’t exist.

This is what Marriott had to say in the video:

What to expect?

In peak season you will pay more for hotels, meaning around the holidays. The hotels where people redeem points less often will likely have more off-peak dates. The hotels that are most popular will have more peak dates year-round. So plan your trip accordingly!