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.
Guaranteed4pm 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?”
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