Marriott Bonvoy Makes Another Negative Change, This Time To Its “No Blackout Dates” Policy

At the end of last year, Greg, Nick and I made predictions for what we thought 2020 would bring in the world of credit cards and loyalty programs for hotels and airlines. One of my predictions was that Marriott Bonvoy would continue offering poor quarterly promotions and while that’s still likely to be true for this year, another prediction I should’ve made was that they’d also continue making customer-unfriendly changes to their loyalty program overall.

Barely a month has gone by in the new year and they’ve already made at least one such negative change. That’s to their “No Blackout Dates” policy which, more appropriately, should now probably be called their “Blackout Dates” policy.

Hear ye, hear ye! There are standard rooms available here but we won’t let you book them using points.

The full terms of the Marriott Bonvoy program can be found here. More specifically, here’s the new wording for their “No Blackout Dates” policy:

3.2.n. The Company has a “No Blackout Dates” policy, which means that, subject to the limitations and exclusions below, Participating Properties have standard rooms available every day for Award Redemptions. These limitations and exclusions are:

i. Participating Properties may limit the number of standard rooms available for redemption on a limited number of days.

ii. The following Participating Brands allow only for Points/Miles earnings and do not offer Points redemption: Marriott Executive Apartments® and ExecuStay®.

iii. The following Participating Properties or Brands either do not participate in or do not fully participate in the No Blackout Dates benefit at this time:

  • Boscolo Exedra Nice, Autograph Collection
  • Carlo IV, The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection
  • JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn® Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Vistana Signature Network and Vistana Residence Network – all properties
  • Marriott Vacation Club and Marriott Grand Residence Club – all properties
  • Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora, Rome, Italy
  • Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hawaii
  • Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott – Maui, Hawaii
  • Hotel Cala di Volpe, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda, Italy
  • Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda, Italy
  • Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda, Italy
  • Homes & Villas by Marriott International
  • North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort, Seychelles

As noted by Loyalty Lobby, the wording for 3.2.n.i. used to say the following:

i. Participating Properties from the following Brands may limit the number of standard rooms available for redemption on a limited number of days: The Ritz-Carlton®, EDITION®, JW Marriott®, Marriott Hotels®, Delta Hotels®, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Renaissance® Hotels, Gaylord Hotels®, Courtyard®, SpringHill Suites®, Protea Hotels®, Fairfield by Marriott®, AC Hotels®, Moxy® Hotels, Residence Inn®, TownePlace Suites®, Vistana properties.

This means that formerly-SPG properties can now also introduce blackout dates, whereas it was previously only Marriott brands that were eligible to do that.

For me, the wording of Marriott’s “No Blackout Dates” policy is contradictory and was so even before this change. Saying “none of our properties have blackout dates except for when our properties decide they want to have blackout dates” makes a mockery of the concept of having no blackout dates. It’s like someone saying “I’m a vegan except for days when I’d like to eat meat”.

I can understand properties wanting the ability to have blackout dates. For example, Superbowl LV will be in Tampa next year, so I suspect hotels there will want to restrict points redemptions at the standard rate that weekend. The problem is that Marriott’s policy is (presumably intentionally) vague. What constitutes a “limited number of standard rooms” and a “limited number of days”? Given the plural on rooms, a property could argue that it only has to offer award availability for two standard rooms in order to be in compliance with the policy.

As for a “limited number of days”, is that two days? Three days? A week? 182 days seeing as the majority of days in the year would still have full availability? While most Marriott properties are unlikely to take excessive advantage of this potential loophole, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the more in-demand hotels play games, such as properties at resorts in Vail, Aspen, etc. during skiing season.

I might be making a lot of fuss about this over nothing, but it’s sadly another example of Marriott making another change to its loyalty program that penalizes its guests. They introduced peak and off-peak pricing last year, with the reasoning being that hotels could charge more points when their property and/or location is in high demand. Allowing all of their brands to seemingly arbitrarily set blackout dates on top of that given their supposed no blackout date policy is disappointing.

h/t Loyalty Lobby

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

11
Leave a Reply

avatar
8 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
9 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
OhBoywatJohn ThompsontoomanybooksYoniPDX Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
JB SanDiego
Guest
JB SanDiego

Marriott has become completely trash ever since the merger, to say the least! I said it before and will say it again, Marriott obliterated SPG!

I only use their points for airlines miles and nothing more.

BTW – U just got Bonvoyed!

Gary Leff
Guest
Gary Leff

There are still no blackout dates (hotels do have to offer some room on all dates). What’s changing is that legacy SPG brands are being allowed to impose ‘capacity controls’ a limited number of nights each year to match what Marriott brands were already doing.

Carl WV
Guest
Carl WV

I’d rather published and transparent blackout days, Only having to offer a few standard rooms is a policy that can be totally played by the hotels. :Limited days could be 364, You know Marriott isn’t going to fight the hotels on anything they do.

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

IIRC they rolled out the original version of this perhaps sans SPG properties it seems like it was last spring. I know that before the Category change that lots of properties – had a window of unavailable rooms on vast swatch of dates.

That said the properties will totally game this – and may open up rooms close in 1-2 weeks out or less and during slow times – and be willing to settle for something over vacancy.

But I think that its totally disingenuous to say/advertise no blackout dates – it more than semantics – sounds like someone should sue Marriott.

toomanybooks
Guest
toomanybooks

How can you guys continue to give Marriott any business? It’s insane. They kick you in the teeth again every few days.

Come over and join us Hyatt guys. Really.

John Thompson
Guest
John Thompson

Hotel and Rewards Program are two different thing. If the hotel is competitive on price and is a hotel I want to stay at of course I’m going to be open to booking it. The rewards program isn’t as lucrative as it once was but it still offers decent value for most people. It seems the people who complain the most are the ones who really aren’t making Marriott money in the first place. Getting top status with business stays at Courtyard for $129 and through credit cards isn’t overly profitable for Marriott. The people who look at the Bonvoy program with a fine tooth comb and compare it to other programs are the ones that don’t help Marriott as they are seeking to nickel and dime hotels.

wat
Guest
wat

what?

OhBoy
Guest
OhBoy

And another one.. category changes take effect next Month and it is quite the deval

trackback

[…] shitshow ever since, #Bonvoyed and all, here is another “enhancement” Bonvoy style lol: Marriott Bonvoy Makes Another Negative Change, This Time To Its “No Blackout Dates” Policy. Wait, when you think it can not get worse, it does! Brutal! A Look Into The Marriott #Bonvoyed […]

trackback

[…] has given us a rough week. The expansion of what is essentially blackout dates to legacy SPG properties and largely negative 2020 category changes had many readers asking us the obvious question: is it […]

trackback

[…] Finally, earlier this month (Feb 2020) Marriott made changes that effectively eliminated its “no blackout dates” policy for award reservations at former SPG properties (legacy Marriott properties were already able to black out certain dates), as Frequent Miler covered here. […]