Marriott Post-Merger Travel Package Updates

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Right after the Marriott/SPG merger this past weekend, Marriott announced how hotel certificates from travel packages bought before August 18 would convert in the new travel package pricing system, at least for the remainder of 2018.

Travel Package Hotel Certificates bought before August 18Conversion    
Category 1-5 (Good at hotels that cost up to 25k points per night)Category 1-4 (Good at hotels that cost up to 25k points per night)
Category 6 (30k)Category 1-4 (25k)
Category 7 (35k)Category 5 (35k)
Category 8 (40k)Category 5 (35k)
Category 9 (45k)Category 6 (50k)
Ritz Tier 1-3 (50k)Category 6 (50k)
Ritz Tier 4-5 (70k)Category 7 (50k)

Your hotel certificates must be redeemed at its converted category (in other words, they aren’t worth x amount of points to use at whatever property). The points pricing I listed to the right of the converted categories is standard, to represent the more accurate translation. When peak and off-peak pricing are introduced in 2019, you will still be able to redeem your hotel certificates at the same categories even when peak pricing is in effect. But Marriott chose to display the new category conversions’ peak prices in their travel package chart, which of course reflects a shinier image than the reality which is that many customers seriously lost out on this one.

The Backlash

Marriott’s behavior has made a lot of people angry–understandably so–specifically because they waited until no one could buy packages at the old rates to announce how they would be converted. Customers were not given the chance to make an informed purchase. Those that bought old Category 6, Category 8, or Ritz Tier 1-3 packages could have easily spent less Marriott Rewards by booking one category lower and received the same amount of value for it.

Thanks to plenty of backlash, Marriott has announced that anyone who finds themselves in that boat, that bought prior Category 6, 8, or Ritz Tier 1-3 packages, can request a downgrade to the category below and receive a refund for 30,000 Marriott Rewards. Follow this link and in the Please select a topic drop-down choose Packages – Deals. Note that requesting the downgrade will also re-set the life of your hotel certificate another year (standard expiration is a year after issue).

Other Positive Developments

  • Marriott has lifted the black out period on redeeming travel package hotel certificates that was supposed to last until September 18. You *should*, according to Marriott, be able to redeem them now. I say should because I’ve seen lots of reports of failed attempts in the last couple days. Please report your experiences attaching old hotel certificates to new award reservations in the comments below.
  • You can continue to trade in your old hotel certificates for set amounts of points at the return rates previously available pre-merger. This means Old Category 1-5 certificates will get 45k points refunded. Any higher category will get 45k + whatever the difference was in the cost between a Category 1-5 and the one you purchased. You can see all the old travel package prices listed here to figure out how much you could get refunded.

The Leftover Ugly

While allowing downgrades is a step in the right direction–that I’m sure many will take advantage of–I also think upgrades should be permitted.

And then there’s those who bought the old Ritz Tier 4-5 packages, the most expensive category available that could previously book the highest category hotels, who will not be able to book the most expensive properties Category 8 properties come 2019. You do have at least until the end of the year to use these certificates on what will be Category 8 hotels in 2019, as all Category 7 and future Category 8 hotels are currently slotted in Category 7. But what if you wanted to attach the certificate to a reservation at a top-tier hotel with stay dates further in the future than you have the ability to attach it to in 2018? Well, you are SOL. And that does not seem fair to me.

I have expressed my distaste to Marriott over the mishandling of Ritz Tier 4-5 package conversions, and my desire to allow upgrades, and I hope you will too if you agree with me. Customer backlash got us something this past week. Let’s hope it will again. I think the easiest/most effective way of calling out a company is on Twitter. Anyone is more likely to react when they’re being held publicly responsible.

If you want to book the Mystique, A Luxury Collection Resort in Santorini, with your prior Ritz Tier 4-5 hotel certificate, you better do it in 2018. Come 2019 this hotel will jump to Category 8 and, as of now, will be unbookable with your old certificate.
If you want to book the Mystique, A Luxury Collection Resort in Santorini, with your prior Ritz Tier 4-5 hotel certificate, you better do it in 2018. Come 2019 this hotel will jump to Category 8 and, as of now, will be unbookable with your old certificate.

Bottom Line

Big takeaways here:

  • You can now theoretically attach hotel certificates from travel packages purchased before August 18 to award reservations. The previously announced and intended blackout period has been cancelled. Whether or not you get a rep who can actually make this happen is going to depend.
  • If you bought a prior Category 6, 8, or Ritz Tier 1-3 packages, you can request a downgrade to the category below and receive a refund for 30,000 Marriott Rewards
  • You can continue to trade in your old hotel certificates for set amounts of points at the return rates previously available pre-merger.

What are you going to do with your pre-August 18 hotel certificates?


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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