Marriott Mobile Check In: Does it help or hurt upgrade chances?

Marriott Mobile App Youve Been Upgraded

During a recent trip to Austin, I had the chance to try out Marriott’s new mobile app.  My family of three had booked a four night stay in a single room at the JW Marriott using a conference rate.  Since we would be there a reasonably long time, an upgrade was important to us.

Previously, I’ve always avoided using Marriott’s mobile check-in since I worried that it might mean losing out on upgrades that are usually processed at the check-in desk with a live person… after you ask for the upgrade.  But, since Marriott has been advertising that their new app will process upgrades, I decided to give it a try. As a Platinum elite, my success rate with meaningful upgrades at US Marriott hotels has been poor, so I didn’t think I had much to lose. I checked in the day before our stay.

The mobile check-in result?  No upgrade.

Rather than getting our room keys from the automated kiosk, I went to the front desk to re-check in.  The desk agent was about to code our keys when I asked about upgrades.  She was new, so she called over a colleague to help.  He clicked away at the computer keys for a while and then looked up and smiled.  He had moved us from a single room to a two bedroom Executive Suite.  Score!

Conclusion: Marriott’s mobile app doesn’t necessarily help with upgrades, but it also doesn’t hurt.  I realize that this is just a single example, but I think it’s a good one.  It shows that you won’t necessarily get upgrades from the mobile app even if they’re available.  And it shows that even if you don’t get upgraded through the app, it is still possible to get upgrades the old fashioned way: by asking.

Going forward I’ll continue checking in through the app just in case it helps.  And if the app doesn’t give me a hoped-for upgrade, and if an upgrade is important to me, I’ll re-check in at the desk.

JW Marriott Austin Executive Suite

The JW Marriott Austin website had a better picture of the executive suite than any I took, so this picture is borrowed from them.

JW Marriott Austin Executive Suite View

Our suite had a great view!

JW Marriott Austin Executive Suite Bedroom 4

Our bedroom. Pocket doors can be closed between the living room and bedroom

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Comments

  1. My experience with mobile app check ins (Hilton mostly) is that the “upgrades” are generally of the “Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities” variety. I’d be shocked if an app handed out a truly desireable upgrade.

  2. I have been using the mobile app for over a year and it hasn’t helped or hurt on upgrades. But that being said, ever since I hit the Lifetime Platinum status with Marriott my rooms have been the worst rooms ever. It is almost like the smallest room with no view is reserved for me now that I am Lifetime status. I complained to Marriott and they wanted me to go through every stay and tell them when I didn’t get an upgrade. Really? You can see my account and they wanted me to do it? Worst service ever handling this. So I keep using the app hoping for something better.

  3. best use of the app is when you want to be sure your room is ready. You get to let them know your arrival time so they can schedule the room.

  4. The only reason to use the app is to ensure they don’t walk you to another hotel if you arrive late. Otherwise it’s useless for upgrades. No company is going to let an a computer decide on upgrades when they could still sell the room.

  5. I work for Marriott/Starwood and in my opinion, for the best chance of an upgrade you may want to check in the day of arrival. Since we may have cancellations and late check ins, as a platinum member you would receive an upgrade above other status first, however we really only have the best idea of what our inventory will be on that exact day. So moving forward try checking in with the app on the exact day and see if that makes a difference. And of course coming to the front desk to ask won’t hurt either. Thanks for you loyalty.

  6. We travel for a living and stay at Marriott properties whenever we can….I use the app always, on occasion we get an upgrade automatic, very seldom though. If an upgrade is really important to us, we make the reservations, check in on the app and then call the hotel directly to request the upgrade….since we mostly stay at Fairfield, TownePlace, Courtyard, Springhill, and Residence, we always have to check at the front desk, keys ready or not….

  7. Maybe this will help you to understand why sometimes you don’t get upgraded. For example, if you use Mobile App to Check In and you request early check in, there is a high chance that we don’t have any bigger room ready at that moment, so we will check you in to the room that your reservation is for.
    If you are coming sometimes later, or at check in time (3,4 pm) there is high chance we will have upgrade available. What I would recommend is to add note that you will have 3 or 4 people in the room. We are looking through arrivalas in the morning and if we see your reservation for small room, but for 4 people, if we have bigger room, we will give you priority for the upgrade.
    Marriott status is important, but most if the time I am upgrading someone who needs bigger room first. 🙂
    It’s not that we don’t want to give you upgrade, it’s just that bigger rooms it’s harder to clean (takes longer and sometimes they are not clean by the time you come to check in) and some hotels are not that big. My hotel has only 7 rooms with 2 bedroom and we rearly have them available.
    I love to give upgrades because I know I will make someone happy and because we will sell small rooms way easier than big room that cost 3 times more.

    Sanja M
    Front Office Manager at Residence Inn

    • Sanja,

      As a Marriott Platinum member who has long been dedicated to the Marriott brand I am floored by your response.

      A room upgrade is supposed to be based on Elite Status and Availability “at the time of check-in”….not your personal judgment on “who needs the bigger room first.”

      I confirmed this with Marriott customer support and was also told that your interpretation of “available” was also wrong. It should not be based on whether or not the room is clean, but rather whether or not the room has been reserved by someone else.

      They were adamant that a Premier member using the app to check-in would only miss out on upgrade rooms if the room became available, either through cancelation or no shows, after they checked-in…..but in no way related to the number of people in the room, whether it was clean, or your judgment on who “needs a bigger room”!

      If they need a “bigger room” they should book a bigger room. Your responsibility should simple be to make sure they get the number of beds they ask for…regardless of whether or not it is a standard room, suite, or penthouse.

  8. OT: Wasn’t there some concern about what these apps do with your phone data when downloaded? I recall it being pretty far-reaching.

  9. Thank you for writing about this. Like others who have commented I am Platinum Elite and am finding no upgrades, poor service in general these days and am glad to hear I am not alone. WE HAVE BEEN DIE-hard loyal but rethinking even our Marriott branded credit card. What happened? Used to be a solid brand with happy employees and guests.

  10. As a Premier Platinum Lufetine Marriott (average 125 nights for 25 years) upgrades few and far between. If I book the concierge level hoping to be upgraded from there I’m usually told, we have upgraded you to the concierge floor and I tell them I paid for it. They just shrug.

    My biggest peeve is (1) no one knows what premier means, (2) even with mobile checkin you still have to line up, run your card, ID check. What is it good for.

    Hilton mobile check in is just that, you get your assigned room and electronic key and go straight to the room and bypass the front desk.

    Come on Marriott, time to get into this century.

  11. In MOST properties Mobile check-in means nothing, you have to line up with the regular crowd to get the key and then ID and credit card swipe, so what does it mean. The last 3 Marriott’s, Pompano Beach FL, Newark Airport Marriott, Sanibel Marriott.
    In addition, I find when I use the mobile check-in I am now getting the last room available even when I check-in 24 hours before arrival. So much for being a Premier Platinum Lifetime member.

  12. I think the chat feature is, well, useless. Too often, I get “A representative is not available, try again later”. Apparently, this allows you to chat with the local hotel. If there’s no rep available, why shouldn’t this be routed to a main desk where a rep is available?

    Just seems pointless to have a chat feature, that’s not available, and now makes you work twice as hard to contact and get help than before.

  13. Marriott really needs to look into the Hilton app and how they do it. I am a die-hard Marriott Lifetime Platinum Premier but I got to use the Hilton app last week at a convention where Marriott was not easy located.

    I love the Hilton App. I am tired of standing in the same line as others and showing the ID and Credit card that is in fact against the Marriott mobile check in policy for these locations. They need to train these locations on mobile check in and enforce it.

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