Mapping old to new Marriott Travel Packages

Marriott travel packages are awards in which you exchange Marriott Rewards points for airline miles plus a 7 night stay certificate.  You do not have to book your actual stay right away.  These packages currently offer great value when you select the options that earn 120,000 airline miles (or 132,000 United miles).  On Saturday, though, the new combined Marriott / SPG program goes live and travel packages become a poor value.

So… I’ve been encouraging everyone with large stashes of Marriott and/or SPG points to use them to buy travel packages this week.  The problem is that Marriott still hasn’t told us how they’re going to map the old categories to the new for this purpose.  However, we do know several things:

  • Packages will be mapped from old categories to new categories.  Stay certificates that haven’t yet been used to book a stay, will be in limbo between 8/18 and 9/17.  On 9/18, they will be converted to new category certificates.  See: Marriott Travel Packages won’t turn into points, but will go into 1 month limbo.
  • The mapping from old to new will result in “similarly valued categories”. View from the Wing was told this by Marriott: “While we plan on sharing the full conversion chart on 8/18, I can let you know that all existing certificates will convert to similarly valued categories after that date.”
  • We may learn the new mapping on 8/18, but then it will be too late to do anything about it.  Friday, 8/17 is the last day to buy travel packages (and I strongly advise you to do so sooner because Friday is going to be nuts.. not as nuts as Saturday, but still…)

This has left everyone with a conundrum.  We want to buy travel packages, but we don’t know which category certificates will meet our needs.

Greg’s Guess

Given that Marriott intends to map old to new to result in “similarly valued categories,” here’s my best guess as to how Marriott will map the old travel packages to the new:

CAUTION: THIS IS JUST A GUESS

If I’m right about how the old categories will map to the new, then among those with travel package certificates, there will be clear winners and losers…

Winners

  • Current category 6: Will be worth 5,000 extra points per night (30K total extra value)
  • Current category 8: Will be worth 10,000 extra points per night (60K total extra value)
  • Current Ritz Tier 1-3: Will be worth 10,000 extra points per night (60K total extra value) and can be used to book top tier hotels between September 18th and “early 2019” (when new category 8 is introduced)
  • Current Ritz Tier 4-5: Will eventually be worth 15,000 extra points per night (90K total extra value), but only if you want to book top tier hotels after category 8 is introduced in early 2019.

Losers

  • Current Ritz Tier 4-5: If you plan to book a top tier hotel between Sep 18 and early 2019, you’ll be very disappointed because you could have bought Ritz Tier 1-3 for 120,000 fewer points.

Slightly Disappointed

This group will be disappointed because they could have bought a lower category package to get the same value:

  • Current category 7: Could have bought Category 6 for 30,000 fewer points
  • Current category 9: Could have bought Category 8 for 30,000 fewer points

The best way to play this if you know which future category you want

If you know which new category hotel you want to stay in, then pick the cheapest current category that maps to your desired category on my guestimate chart:

For example, if you want to stay at a future category 6 hotel, then you should get a current category 8 travel package.

If you want to stay in a top tier hotel, it gets a little more complicated.  If you know that you will be able to book that top tier hotel before category 8 gets introduced (book between September 18th and early 2019 for stays during that time or later), then Ritz Tier 1-3 is your best bet.  If you’re pretty sure that you won’t be able to book your stay until mid-2019 or later, then Ritz Tier 4-5 is best.

An even better way to play this

If you have a fortune in points and you believe that Marriott will continue to allow certificate category downgrades in the new program, then consider buying Ritz Tier 4-5 packages.  I’ll explain my thinking in a follow-up post.

Update: Here’s the new post “A case for gambling on top tier travel packages.”

Important

If you plan to buy a travel package (or upgrade/downgrade one), please see this post: Navigating Marriott’s phone prompts to book a Travel Package.

The Peak Pricing View

A few readers have pointed out to me that the new travel package pricing appears to be based on peak award rates, rather than standard rates.  If we go by those rates, the mapping from old to new is different, and much worse.

The idea that Marriott may map the packages this way has merit, but it would be really bad for everyone who hopes to use their stay certificates for a similarly priced hotel in the new program.  Here’s one way the mapping might happen if Marriott was to do this:

This is a pessimistic view of how the old and new charts may map if the mapping is based on peak pricing. To be clear: I do not think that Marriott will do this. It’s just too grim…

The specifics shown above are completely open to debate, but there’s no doubt that basing the conversion on peak pricing would lead to upsetting results for most of us.  I don’t think that Marriott has any intention to do something as drastic as this, but I think it is important to show a near worst case scenario.

 

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Allan
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Allan

What if we want top tier SPG properties like Bora Bora? Buy Ritz 4-5? Attach it or not, and if so, to what?

Blue
Guest
Blue

I don’t think ANY Marriott certificate will be a Category 6–even the Cat 9s. The reason is that the peak valuation for Category 6 is 60k/night peak value–and it appears as if peak value is how travel packages are priced.

Christian
Guest
Christian

Can we do upgrades before and after the 18th?

rj123456
Guest
rj123456

Does Marriott/Ritz/SPG have any all-inclusive properties, like the Hyatt Zivas?

JB from San Diego
Guest
JB from San Diego

So far so good! I got my CAT 8 (unattached) in July, as I had taken it from Greg’s ‘Marriott Travel Package Arbitrage’

Looking good!!

Your the man Greg!!!

Brown
Guest
Brown

I am considering to speculatively pay 30000 points to upgrade a 1-5 cert to a 6 cert, so that I will be able to book the new cat 5. This same upgrade will cost 60000 points after 8/18.

Paul
Guest
Paul

I’m debating whether to do this or not. It would mean converting 10k points from SPG and I would still not have any guarantee that I will even be able to use it. I was hoping to use my current cat 1-5 7N certificate to book one of a couple possible hotels that I need for an early October trip, since they’re all currently either with SPG or Marriott category 7-8. All would be converted to cat 5 on 8/18. I really don’t know what to do. If I can’t use the certificate for this trip, I don’t think I’ll end up using it at all :(. I already had them extend the expiration date by one year.

Points Pinnacle
Guest
Points Pinnacle

Have you been following the travel package thread on FT today by chance? Some “strong” speculation that on the 18th existing packages will be refunded to 1-4 certs and the additional points on top of that refunded (if u had a higher cert) And if u want to buy back up u do it under the new chart. Obviously that goes a bit against what Marriott has been saying in regards to mapping but …..
Your thoughts?

chris
Guest
chris

I noticed that too. It sounds simple and pretty fair actually. It would be pretty funny if that’s what Marriott ends up doing. Because amid the endless speculation and theories and hyper/over analyzing (Comprehensive 5 Possible Outcomes!!!) that’s been put into this by bloggers everywhere, I don’t think anyone offered this option. But you have to fill that 24/7 miles/points news cycle with something.

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

What refund calculation are they speculating will be used?

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

Tried ordering a 7 day travel package on Saturday and spent over an hour on phone with Marriott rewards who attempted to combine my points with my wife’s points so that we had enough to purchase a package. However, the agent could not complete the transfer because the system was down. Said to try calling back on Sunday, which I then spent another 2 hours on the phone Sunday with multiple reps and eventually a supervisor, however they still could not get more than 50,000 points transferred from one account to the other, which is what I needed to purchase a package. Long story short, it was not a fun weekend and I had to end the call requesting that the supervisor call me back when the point transfer could be completed. With the way things have gone, I have little confidence they will call back and I’m very concerned that I’m going to miss out on purchasing a package before the 18th. What a complete fiasco.

Keen
Guest
Keen

How much more points do you need over 50000? You may transfer SPG points instead, with no limits at all (convert marriott to SPG, transfer between you and your wife’s SPG accounts than convert SPG back to marriot) , but it will take 2 to 3 days typically. Want to give it a try?

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

Thanks for the suggestion. I am trying to do as you suggested, however, I hope all the transfers complete before the 18th. Transferring from Marriott to SPG was instantaneous. However combining SPG points into a single account says it may take up to 5 days.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Right now if we book a hotel lower than the category of our cert, we get refunded the difference, ie 30k, 60k. What do you think will happen if we downgrade after 9/18 to a hotel lower in category? Refund of 120k? Or maybe the system will map into the existing price differences?

nabeelj
Guest
nabeelj

You are guessing that old Cat 6 will map to new Cat 5 based on the point levels. I believe old Cat 6 will map to new Cat 4 based on the fact that the majority of old Cat 6 hotels are in new Cat 4.

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2018/06/28/new-marriott-award-chart-analysis/

Platinum
Guest
Platinum

So why are you saying people with Cat 7 will be disappointed? Can’t they downgrade after 9/18 to a 1-4 and get the 60k refunded? This seems to be the theory on FT that everything will revert to cats 1-4 and the differences in what you redeemed will be refunded to your account. Why do you not think that will happen? Every blogger has a different theory. It’s crazy. Also, there are no categories with a 30k per night redemption. Why don’t you think they will downgrade it to a 1-4 25 k. Nothing has officially been said to members so I take everything about what will or will not happen with a grain of salt.

Ivan Y
Guest
Ivan Y

@ Greg — any ideas on what happens to certificates attached to a reservation for a hotel that’s going to be higher than the equivalent new category? Say, if Cat 1-9 gets converted to Cat 1-6 but hotel is Cat. 7 or 8.

Ideally, I would love to sue it for travel in mid-August 2019 or November 2019, so I’m wondering if there are any downsides to attaching it to a reservation for an earlier date and then hoping to be able to change the dates later.

What do you think?

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

Greg, do you see any downside to attaching the certificates? I have no plans for 2 – Cat 8 – 5 nights certificates but will go ahead and speculatively attach unless leaving detached is better option. I see lots on flyer talk leaving detaching today.

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

Any chance they become non-changeable?

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

so TP stay certs are going to be 60k instead of 30k to go up a category…the new pricing for TP really takes the value out of the air miles…take a cat6 package for example with 50k room pricing, 5th night free, you could get 2 5 night or a 10 night stay for 400k…so those 100k air miles are now 110k points and 3 days stay at new cat 6 properties…needless to say there will be less TP sold in the new system.

trackback

[…] today I posted my best guess of how old Marriott travel packages will be converted to new ones: Mapping old to new Marriott Travel Packages.  In that post, I suggested that the following conversions were […]

Mark
Guest
Mark

I don’t think Marriott will turn a 1-5 package into a 1-4 package. Many people, especially those who don’t spend all their day on this blog, will be rightfully upset. Their arguments would go like this.
1. I don’t care that you are introducing a new 1-4 package for a similar price as my 1-5 package. That shouldn’t affect what I already bought.
2. It doesn’t matter that many hotels are moving from Cat 5 to 4. Using the package at a hotel is never based on the category of the hotel at the time that I bought the package. It’s only based on the category at the time of redemption. If a Cat 5 changed to a Cat 6 before I made the booking, I’d be out of luck. So what does it matter when a category goes down?
3. I bought a package based on category only, not points. I don’t care if you introduced a new category 4 that is the same number of points as the old category 5. I should still be able to get what my package says.

Tarkan
Guest
Tarkan

It would be really disappointing to have the categories downgraded. I recently purchased a 5 day Cat 7 package because points wise that converts to Cat 5, and I live in Australia and the majority of hotels here are Cat 5 and up. The ones I would want to stay in for sure, otherwise I would have saved myself 35k and gone for 1-5

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

I haven’t seen any advice regarding 5 night packages in this shake-up.
Is it the same, or are there other thoughts?

trackback

[…] Above is my best guess of how old travel package categories will map to new. Keep in mind that it’s just a guess. We won’t know for certain before August 18th.  See: Mapping old to new Marriott Travel Packages […]

Deltrave
Guest
Deltrave

Greg,

There can be another minor variation to your suggested mapping:-
Scenario 1: Middle Ground
Old Cat 1-5 -> Cat 4
Old Cat 6 -> Cat 5
Old Cat 7 -> Cat 5 + Refund 30K
Old Cat 8 -> Cat 6
Old Cat 9 -> Cat 6 + Refund 30K
Tier 1-3 -> Cat 7
Tier 4-5 -> Cat 8

This way cat 7 and 9 are no longer losers. This approach can be applied to any multiple old categories mapping to the new ones.

Scenario 2: Peak Pricing
The table you have is not the most grim. If they really go by peak pricing, it will be
Old Cat 1-7 -> Cat 4
Old Cat 8-9, Tier 1-3 -> Cat 5
Tier 4-5 -> Cat 7

Even old Cat 7 (35K) will be enough for new Cat 4 peak pricing only (25K) and not new Cat 5 (40K). None will map to new Cat 6 or Cat 8. This scenario is too grim and I don’t think it will fly. The one you outlined is still better but if they do go for a middle ground, then I expect them to go with Scenario 1 or the one outlined by you. If they go with peak pricing, they will see a lot of downgrades to certificates – see arbitrage point below – a lot more hassle for customer reps.

Question: In either scenario, why would you think a new cat 7 certificate (mapping from either Tier 1-3 (scenario 1) or Tier 4-5 (scenario 2) would be applicable to cat 8 hotels (till the time they are discounted)? I am asking because the certificates are at category level and not points.

Re: arbitrage
Finally, I do expect that members will be able to upgrade/downgrade certificates post Aug 18. If they wanted to change this feature, they would have announced it prior.
However, I do not expect Marriott will allow the arbitrage. Too many variables involved – what will be the refund price of such a converted certificate? How will it impact existing attached certificates. I believe this opens up more questions for the business team. Instead Marriott will probably link it to old pricing – this simpler solution itself will be a complex integration.

frugalman
Guest
frugalman

For those who are still waiting, here is the official announcement: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/30097942-post5529.html

For your convenience, below is the true form that shall be used for those booking this year per regular point value instead of peak/off-peak values.

Highlights:
1. Cat 9 is a winner
2. Cat 6, Cat 8, and Tier 4-5 are losers
3. For the rest, it is a tie.

=============================================
Old Travel Package Category New Travel Package category
Cat 1-5 (25k) ===> New cat 1-4 (25k)
Cat 6 (30k) ===> New cat 1-4 (25k)
Cat 7 (35k) ===> New cat 5 (35k)
Cat 8 (40k) ===> New cat 5 (35k)
Cat 9 (45K) ===> New cat 6 (50k)
Tier 1-3 (50K) ===> New cat 6 (50k)
Tier 4-5 (70K) ===> New cat 7 (60K)
=============================================