Marriott Challenge Checkpoint

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Last month, in the post “Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott” I described my plan for securing Marriott Platinum status through Marriott’s Platinum Challenge.  I don’t stay at Marriott properties all that often, so I really don’t need Platinum status.  Plus, Marriott makes it ridiculously easy to get temporary Platinum status when you want it simply by enrolling in the Platinum Challenge (which you can do once per year).  Over at View from the Wing, Gary made a good argument for not trying to complete the Platinum Challenge (see “Why I’m Walking Away from the Marriott Platinum Challenge”).  But I’m going to do it anyway, just for fun.

In total, I need to complete 9 paid stays by the end of November in order to keep my Platinum status through February 2014.  Luckily, Marriott has run back to back “MegaBonus” promotions in which I can earn a free night certificate for every two paid nights.  This is great because it helps tremendously in offsetting the cost of “mattress run” stays  (where I book a night just for the stay credit).

Progress To-Date

In August, I completed two real stays towards the challenge, and two manufactured stays where I simply checked in for a one night stay without actually, you know, staying.  The manufactured stays cost $70.20 each (after taxes, based on $65 rates) and resulted in earning 1,175 points each (As a Platinum member, I earned 15 points per dollar, plus I took 200 points for my Platinum gift each time).  I saved money by using Marriott gift cards I had previously bought for 20% off.  Thanks to the summer MegaBonus, I also earned two free night certificates.

Manufactured Stays Costs & Benefits

Since two of the stays in August were ones I would have made anyway without the challenge, I’ll only consider the two manufactured stays as part of my costs & benefits:

Total Cost:  2 X $70.20 = $140.20 – 20% discount (due to gift cards) = $112.32

Total Benefits:

  • 2350 Marriott points.  Given the Fair Trading Price for Marriott points of .56 cents each, this amounts to a $13.60 rebate.
  • One free night certificate good for category 1 through 4 hotels.  I’ve previously argued that these certs are worth about $150 each.  More conservatively, we could say that these certs are worth about 20,000 Marriott points since that’s the price in points for a category 4 hotel night.  At the Fair Trading Price of .56 cents, this makes the value of the free night certificate equal to $112 (note: I would rather have points than certs since points don’t expire and are much more flexible, but this still seems like a reasonable estimate to me).
  • Total benefit estimate = $13.60 + $112 = $125.60

In all, the benefits of my manufactured stays are slightly more valuable than the cost, so I feel pretty good about that!

Going Forward

The next Marriott Megabonus promotion begins September 15th and goes until January 15, 2013.  As with the summer promotion, every two stays earns a free night (up to a maximum of three free nights).  My plan is to complete 5 of those stays before the end of November (in order to complete the Platinum Challenge) and then one more stay by January 15 in order to get my final free night.  In order to meet these goals, I’ll take advantage of real stays as circumstances warrant and I’ll manufacture stays when needed.

Platinum Benefits To-Date

In my four August paid stays, I’ve received the following Platinum status benefits in addition to the automatic 50% point bonus:

Marriott Downtown Anchorage: Club Floor room with Club Lounge access.  Used club lounge for a free evening snack.  We checked out too early the next morning to take advantage of free breakfast.

Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel: We arrived at the hotel at about 9 in the morning.  At the desk I was immediately told that they were not yet checking in guests, but after looking up my name in the system the story changed.  As a valued Platinum member they had a room ready for me!  Plus, they had upgraded me to a harbor view room.  For my Platinum arrival gift I chose cheese & crackers and a bottle of beer.  The photo below shows the view from the room and the bottle of beer.

2012-08-11 10.58.27

Courtyard Marriotts: My manufactured stays were at Courtyard Marriott hotels which do not seem to go out of their way to make Platinum elites feel special.  In each case all I got was my choice of a pantry item (e.g. chips, candy, etc.) or 200 points.  In both cases I took the points.

Inn at Bay Harbor:  In addition to the paid stays listed above, I stayed twice at the Renaissance Inn at Bay Harbor (Michigan) on points.  There, I received upgraded lake-side rooms, free breakfast for two, and for my Platinum arrival gift they delivered to my room a half bottle of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers.  My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon snack while sitting on our balcony overlooking Lake Michigan.  You might wonder why I used points for these stays instead of making progress towards the Platinum Challenge.  The fact was simply that the nightly rate plus resort fees was fairly exorbitant (depending on the night, $350 or more) so I decided to make use of points instead.

Overall, the Platinum benefits to-date haven’t wowed me, but they’ve been way better than nothing!  I’ve heard that in Europe the benefits are much better so I hope to test out that theory in London in November.

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