Marriott Rolls Out Guaranteed 4pm Late Checkout For Elite Members The Hard Way

Just a few days ago, Marriott announced new benefits for elite members:

  • An “Ambassador-like” service.  Similar to SPG’s Ambassador service, Marriott will roll out a concierge service for highly ranked elite members.
  • A Marriott version of SPG moments, ways to bid on experiences like concerts or once-in-a-lifetime sporting events.
  • Guaranteed 4pm late checkout for Gold and Platinum members offered when the properties feel like it.  A weaker version of what SPG already offers.

Marriott made me eat my words, but only after eating their own in a weird way.  The first set of language they released about the 4pm late checkout benefit spelled out that there really wasn’t much of a guarantee at all.

Then, a few days later, they finally changed the language to guarantee the benefit.  For the record, while I love this benefit SPG does a pretty poor job getting the properties to honor it.  I’ve had conversations with SPG Platinum agents asking for their help when a property refused to honor late checkout where the phone agents didn’t even understand the policy.  After reading the policy to them, they generally shied away from contacting the property on my behalf.

All that being said, Marriott is making me eat my words on this. I told a friend a few months ago, “I’ll believe it when I see it” in relation to his claims that Marriott was sure to roll this out.  I think even the biggest Marriott fan wouldn’t argue that the mega hotel chain appears to have stubbed their toe pretty good on the rollout.

I’m happy to see Marriott trying to roll out better benefits for elite members, but I can’t tell if they gained or lost credibility with SPG members.  On one hand, these moves make Marriott status more valuable, closing the gap between what SPG members get now and what they can expect to get.  On the other hand, we’ll never be sure if they make this change without first learning the disappointment of their customers.

For my money, I’ll take the front desk check-in script of pretty much every Hyatt employee who’s ever checked me in, “Mr. Pizzarello, would you like to take advantage of your 4pm late checkout?”

The post Marriott Rolls Out Guaranteed 4pm Late Checkout For Elite Members The Hard Way was published first on Pizza In Motion

2 Comments

  1. I’ve never had a property in SPG refuse me a 4 pm late checkout when asked. Almost every property in SPG has even asked me if I need a late checkout, in fact. With 150+ nights per year at SPG properties throughout all of the brands (except Design, which doesn’t guarantee late checkout, and Tribute, which I’ve not yet had the chance to stay at) and across North America, Europe, Oceania (I’m at the St Regis Bora Bora even now), Asia, Africa, etc, I’m not sure where you’re getting your data points.

    I think it’s great that Marriott is incorporating one of the best loved elite benefits into MR for the eventual merger of th programs. Late checkout is so easy to offer…and really costs the hotel’s nothing.

    I also think it’s great at Marriott is incorporating the “concierge” service akin to Starwood Ambassadors. I LOVE my Starwood Ambassador, and she really makes me stick with Starwood hotels whenever possible, even when there may be a Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Aman, or Peninula option available. The improved service experience and far improved upgrade chances make it more than worthwhile to keep my money with Starwood. If Marriott can emulate that with MR and then with the combined program, and include Ritz Carlton proerties, I’d have a lot of reasons to continue my loyalty with the combined company and loyalty program.

    If Marriott can find a way to offer guaranteed standard suite upgrades for Marriott Platinums, perhaps with 100 nights, then it will have achieved another of the favorite elite SPG benefits. And go a long way to making current SPG elites find solace with the merger of the two companies and loyalty programs.

    Crossing my fingers. Come on, Marriott.

    1. Bill, your experience has definitely been different than mine on 4pm late checkout. Parker Le Meridien in NYC is one I’ve had numerous issues at. That being said, it’s a GREAT benefit to have.

      I, too, have enjoyed an Ambassador the last few years. I’ve had very little luck with Suite Night Awards clearing at a higher rate than just a standard suite upgrade. It might be time, given the size of the chain, to focus on something like what you suggest where 100 night elites get a more guaranteed benefit. That way it could be something properties are able to honor more reliably given the combined size of the program and the fact that most people want to upgrade at the same hotels.

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