Earlier this week, Marriott officially announced the previously-rumored name and elite tiers of the “new” loyalty program. I know that change often meets resistance, and I’m not sure I had a better suggestion if they really wanted to change the name from Marriott Rewards…but neither do I have a worse suggestion. C’est la vie, from February 13th, 2019, Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards will cease to exist. Say “Bonvoy…” to…err, hello to Marriott Bonvoy.
Marriott’s PR team says, “Represented by a simple, bold and modern logo, Marriott Bonvoy is welcoming and optimistic.”. I find it at least a little ironic that a name that plays on a way to say goodbye is meant to be welcoming. I might suggest that Marriott file a police report, because somebody at that branding firm has been stealing a salary.
As was previously rumored, the elite status tier names are changing somewhat. While there will still be Silver and Gold, these will be the tiers for 50+ nights (otherwise known as “free breakfast at some places on Tuesday afternoons when the lounge is closed as long as it isn’t one of the brands that doesn’t offer breakfast and provided you pay the “urban destiresortmadeup fee” statuses):
- Marriott Bonvoy Platinum = 50 nights
- Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite = 75 nights (replaces Platinum Premier Elite)
- Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite = 100 nights + $20K+ in spend (replaces Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador)
There’s no change in benefits, they’re just renaming the tiers for a second time in six months to make it less confusing for members and hotel staff alike. Here’s hoping for a front desk agent who knows that Platinum is a lot more valuable than Titanium but doesn’t know that Marriott doesn’t know that. Let’s get that suite upgrade going!
Ok, jokes aside, not much is actually changing, everything is just going to be under one umbrella. Some things you might want to do before February 13th:
- Download the Marriott app. The SPG and Ritz-Carlton apps will be deactivated on February 13th and everything will run through the Marriott app at that time (which will “seamlessly” transition to the Marriott Bonvoy app, likely requiring an update).
- Combine your accounts. If you haven’t done this yet, I don’t think there is a risk. I finally combined mine earlier this week because I had points in my SPG account (from a Lux upgrade) that I wanted in my Marriott account. Nothing appears to have broken. But, I strongly suggest you…
- Take screen shots of everything. Get screen shots of your point balances, any free night certificates, stay history, status, etc. Before I combined accounts, I took screen shots of everything in both accounts. Then I combined and took more screen shots. Marriott’s IT hasn’t exactly inspired confidence.
- Get ready to see a lot of that fun Bonvoy logo. Seriously. I expect some heavy marketing of the new brand.
A couple of things I hope this will mean moving forward from February (but the part of me that has been alive and reading your stories over the past few months shares a healthy skepticism about):
- Elite benefits could become more consistent at all properties with a single rewards program. Hey, ya gotta have dreams.
- Gift cards become usable at all Marriott Bonvoy brands. My understanding is that today, Marriott gift cards still don’t work at SPG / Ritz brands (if you have any recent experience trying, let us know in the comments). I’m hopeful (though perhaps it’s foolish optimism) that they will eventually be accepted at most/all properties.
Overall, the new program is essentially the old program in a shiny new box. While the first glance at the wrapping paper looked pretty nice, I hope for more than empty promises moving forward. Marriott could be a solid loyalty program with its footprint if it chooses to enforce its terms with hotels. Let’s hope for the best.
Also see the details and watch their promo video on the Marriott site.