Yet another new Marriott travel package conversion theory

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Earlier 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 likely:

In response to that post, Points Pinnacle pointed out a thread on Flyertalk in which maxcalls wrote about what he or she was told by a Marriott Rewards representative (found here).

The short version is this:

  • All stay certificates that are not yet attached to a reservation will be converted to new category 1-4 certificates.
  • If your stay certificate was old category 1-5, then it’s an even exchange.
  • If your stay certificate was old category 6 or higher, then you would get points refunded to your account based on the difference in price between what you paid for the package and the old category 1-5 price.  For example, category 7 travel packages currently cost 60,000 points more than category 1-5 packages, so you would get 60,000 points back.
  • If you currently have the certificate attached to a reservation it would stay intact.  But, if you cancel the reservation (which you won’t be able to do between 8/18 and 9/18), you would then get a new category 1-4 certificate and the same number of points back that you would have received with an unattached certificate.
  • If you then need a higher level certificate, you would have to pay the difference based on new travel package pricing.  For example, if you want to upgrade from new category 1-4 to new category 7, you would have to pay 240,000 points.

Why this is doubtful

There are several reasons to doubt the above theory:

  1. Marriott has asserted that they will share a “conversion chart” on 8/18 and that the mapping from old to new will result in “similarly valued categories” (hat tip View from the Wing).
  2. If this is indeed the plan, I can’t think of any reason why Marriott would require a one month freeze on old stay certificates (see: Marriott Travel Packages won’t turn into points, but will go into 1 month limbo).  Why not convert them immediately to category 1-4?
  3. I hate to say this, but in my experience call center representatives are wrong about these things far more often than they’re right.  There’s no particular reason to believe this one call center rep over a higher level Marriott spokesperson.

Why I’m inclined to believe it anyway

Despite the reasons to doubt the theory, I’m leaning towards believing it:

  1. It simply makes sense.  It’s the only solution I’ve heard that is arguably fair to everyone without being overly generous.
  2. Every category mapping approach that I can think of has a huge potential exploit: It would probably be possible to buy a top tier package now, and then downgrade it to a bottom tier package in September in order to get a huge number of points back.  This probably wouldn’t sit well with Marriott.
  3. It explains why my Marriott contact hinted to me that people would be better off attaching their certificates now (see: Banking travel certificates for future luxury).  If the above theory is true, then your best bet is to book your actual stay before 8/18, unless you’re planning to stay in a category 1-4 hotel.  The reason is that the price to upgrade post 8/18 will be much higher than the price to upgrade today.

If it’s true, then…

If the theory is true, then those who only buy the travel packages for the miles will come out even regardless of what category package they buy.  In that case, though, they may be able to buy more packages now by downgrading existing ones to category 1-5.

Similarly, for those who are looking forward to using their certificates at new category 1-4 hotels (Marriott or Starwood), they’ll come out even.

Those wanting to book a higher level Marriott property (one that currently costs more than 25K per night) should book them now.  Unless the hotel is dropping way down in price, it will cost more in the future.

For those wanting to book a higher level Starwood property, you could book a higher level travel package now and hope that the theory presented above is wrong.  You won’t lose much through that gamble since you’ll still get valuable airline miles at a competitive rate that won’t be available to you after this Friday.

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