It’s a fact of loyalty-program life: Airline and hotel programs periodically adjust their award prices. Of course, those adjustments amount to price hikes more often than not. And, all things being equal, higher award prices amount to an overall devaluation of the program.
The best that program members can hope for is that the devaluations are modest in size and scope, rather than catastrophic.
The upcoming award changes just announced by Marriott can hardly be called modest.
Effective March 6, award prices at 1,329 Marriott Rewards hotels will change, with 1,082 properties rising in price versus price decreases at just 247 properties. The big picture: price changes at 26 percent of Marriott’s portfolio, with 21 percent increasing and 5 percent decreasing.
That’s a significant devaluation by any measure, and a thumb in the eye of Marriott Rewards members.
As always with upcoming award-price changes, program members should peruse the list of repriced properties, booking any award stays that will increase in price before March 6, and holding off until after the change to book stays that will become cheaper.
While the news is bad, Marriott gets points for giving Rewards members a month’s advance warning of the changes, and for communicating the changes clearly and transparently.
Reader Reality Check
Do these changes affect your relationship with Marriott Rewards?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.