Thanks to holding both a personal Marriott Bonvoy credit card and the American Express Bonvoy business card, I managed to eke out Marriott Platinum status for 2022. The extra nights Marriott provided their members helped as well. The hotel chain soon emailed me about selecting a one of their 2021 Marriott Choice Benefits.
I’d totally forgotten about this perk, and I was eager to see what was offered. But after browsing the options, I understood why I’d forgotten about it. There isn’t much to pick from.
Marriott Needs Better Choice Benefits
If a hotel chain really intends to reward guests who stay 50 nights with them, it would come up with some excellent benefits. Members who reach Marriott Bonvoy Platinum are given a decent set of perks: breakfast benefits (although this is super confusing and doesn’t apply at all chains), additional bonus points, lounge access, 4:00 PM late checkout, greater potential for better upgrades, etc. Plus, they are given one Choice Benefit.
The Marriott Choice Benefit options are:
- Add five Elite Night Credits to your 2021 total.
- Save 40% on a bed from your favorite hotel brand.
- Gift Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status to a family member, friend or colleague.
- Support the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund: Donate $100 USD to the fund and support the organization’s important work.
- Support children through UNICEF: Donate $100 USD to UNICEF’s work, including the global equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
- Support World Wildlife Fund (WWF): Donate $100 USD to WWF and support the organization’s work to help people and nature thrive.
- Get five Suite Night Awards to redeem for upgrades to suites and premium rooms.
There’s only one of those I’m remotely interested in: the five suite nights. Trouble is, I’ve heard all sorts of stories about how difficult it is to use these. One would think that the best use of these would be for busy periods where you’re unlikely to receive a complimentary upgrade, but that seems to be when they perform worst.
Unlike Hyatt, who lets you confirm the suite night well in advance, Marriott decides no more than five days out whether the upgrade can be processed or not.
They also only offer five nights. Hyatt offers four suite night awards which are good for an entire stay, up to a week each, which is a total of 28 nights. This is if you reach 60 elite nights in the year. You get only two suite night awards at 50 nights, which are still good for up to 14 total nights.
All the other Marriott Choice benefits have very specific use cases. If I was on track for Titanium, the five extra elite nights would be helpful. But I’m not. I’m sure some people pick this, as the utility is clear. If I could apply them to next year, I would have taken elite night credit for 2022 over the suite night awards. While a donation option is a great idea, none of the three provided are organizations I’m interested in supporting.
The other options are lame. Gift Silver status? Status which you can receive with a credit card? Discount off a bed? Ok, fine, maybe this is not a bad idea. But this is a once-per-decade purchase.
Suite upgrades it is.
How Marriott Could Improve
Marriott could greatly improve their Choice benefits by adding a couple other decent options and making a few tweaks.
First, they could simply add some bonus points as an option. I think 10,000 or 15,000 Marriott points would be a common selection by members, and it fits into the approximate value of the other choices.
My second idea is adding something like a $100 voucher to be used on-property at one of their many resorts. I could see this being a common selection as well. I’ll admit that this is similar to the Hyatt 40-night benefit (where the $100 is good for hotel rate as well). The value fits in with the other options.
The last addition is simply adding a free night. This is an option for the Titanium elites. Only problem is that is much more valuable that the other options offered.
Regarding the elite nights, being able to credit them to the following year would be a huge improvement. It would give members a head start on qualification, which could potentially drive increased loyalty. If Marriott doesn’t toss in some extra nights for 2021 and I don’t have any Marriott work travel, it’s doubtful I’ll qualify for Platinum again.
The status gift is just lame. How about changing the status gift to at least Gold? And then the Titanium status gift option to Platinum? Or you could restrict it to someone within your household and make it the equivalent status. That would be way more helpful and provide real value.
Final Thoughts on 2021 Marriott Choice Benefits
A lot of the value of the Marriott program was sucked out when they transitioned to the new Bonvoy brand. Hotel award prices have inflated, and some key benefits have been reduced. I still miss the old SPG program. I didn’t expect to be Bonvoy Platinum this coming year, and even with the Marriott Choice Benefits offered, I’m doubtful I’ll get a lot of value from the elite program.
What do you think of the 2021 Marriott Choice benefits?