My general view of Marriott & SPG’s combined elite program (assuming they ever get it to work as promised) is that Marriott elites now have better benefits than before, while SPG elites have slightly worse benefits than before. That said, there’s one significant way in which SPG elites are better off than before: Marriott’s elite benefits guarantee.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Marriott Rewards (and now SPG) program is that they guarantee certain elite benefits. In certain situations, participating hotels must pay you if they fail to deliver benefits. Thanks to this benefit, I was able to collect $100 in January when the resort I stayed at failed to offer me a Platinum welcome gift (see: Marriott pays up when they fail to deliver elite benefits). More recently, I was due compensation when a hotel I had booked was unable to fulfill my reservation. In that case, I told the hotel not to worry about the compensation since they had already treated us extremely well (see details in caption, below).
The rules vary by brand and location (and fine print)
Before we dive into the various elite benefits guarantees, it’s important to note that the rules vary by brand and location. And, in some cases, specific hotels have been given exceptions. This post is designed to give you an overview of Marriott’s elite benefits guarantees, but if you want to know which guarantees apply to your specific stay please see our resource page: Which Marriott elite benefits apply?
On our “Which Marriott elite benefits apply?” page, you can filter to specific hotel brands to see what benefits you are due. Plus, you can search for your specific hotel to see if there are any noted exceptions.
Summary of Elite Benefit Guarantees
The quoted text below was copied directly from Marriott’s Elite Benefit Guarantees page. In some cases I bolded and/or underlined text for emphasis:
All Elite Tiers (Silver and higher):
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee: “If for some reason we’re unable to honor your reservation, we’ll pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience. To be eligible, you must provide your member number when making a reservation. Compensation varies by hotel brand.”
Ultimate Reservation Guarantee More Info
Greg’s explanation: If you get walked (.e.g you had a confirmed reservation, but they can’t honor it) from a Marriott/SPG hotel they not only have to put you up somewhere comparable, but they will also compensate you with cash and points for your trouble.
Platinum Elite & Higher:
- Guaranteed Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite Welcome Gift: “Get more when you check in. As a Platinum or Platinum Premier Elite member, you’ll receive a special gift upon arrival at all participating hotels, offering you a choice of an amenity gift or points. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
Guaranteed Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite Welcome Gift More Info
Greg’s explanation: Platinum guests are supposed to be offered a welcome gift upon check in. If you weren’t offered one, you can go to the desk during your stay and request compensation.
- Guaranteed Room Type: “When making a reservation, be sure to note both your Member number and room/bed preferences. At locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, we’ll always honor your bed type request. Outside U.S. and Canada, smoking/non-smoking preferences are honored based on availability; exact bed sizes may vary, and only Platinum Premier Elite members will have guaranteed priority for their requested type of bed and room. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
Guaranteed Room Type More Info
Greg’s explanation: I believe that “room type” refers to your smoking/non-smoking preference, and “bed type” refers to whether you asked for a king/queen or two doubles/singles. Except when voluntarily upgraded, if you get stuck in the wrong type of room, request compensation during your stay.
- Guaranteed Lounge Access: “Access to lounge for member plus one guest. This benefit only applies to the one guest room in which the Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite member is staying.”
Guaranteed Lounge Access More Info
Greg’s explanation: This one seems self explanatory.
Platinum Premier Elite and Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador:
- 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: :Traveling on short notice? We guarantee you’ll always have a room for any paid stay. Just make your reservation 48 hours before arrival at any of our participating hotels, excluding Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, participating Vistana properties, and Design Hotels. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: Limited to Platinum Premier Elite Member’s personal guestroom. Guaranteed room availability for reservations booked at least 48 hours prior to arrival. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability may not be available on certain limited dates (e.g., special events). Benefit cannot be used in conjunction with award usage or any type of promotional or discounted rates. For Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability applies to studio rooms only.
Greg’s explanation: If you want to stay at a particular Marriott/SPG hotel, but it is sold out for your desired stay, they’ll let you book the stay anyway, but at standard rack rates. This benefit doesn’t include compensation if it is not met.
Please visit our “Which Marriott elite benefits apply?” page, where you can filter to specific hotel brands to see what benefits you are due. Plus, you can search for your specific hotel to see if there are any noted exceptions.