Should Top-Tier Hotel Loyalists Expect Better Treatment Than Usual?

by joeheg

With the travel industry working at a fraction of its previous levels, hotels have made several changes to their loyalty programs to keep the top-tier members happy. These changes included rolling over status into 2021, extending the expiration of free night certificates and pausing the expiration of points.

While these changed addressed issues with the programs themselves, they do nothing about the changes to services when you stay at a hotel. Hotel lounges are not offering the same services, daily housekeeping is not provided and free breakfast is a shadow of its former self.

Because of this, should hotels be treating elite members better with more generous upgrades?

I was reading a post on Traveling for Miles about how, when using a Marriott suite upgrade certificate at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, the only upgrade available was for a Junior Suite. What I got from the post was that since there were “real” suites available at the time (which were offered as an upgrade for an additional fee), there was no need to limit the upgrade to a Junior Suite. Providing a better room for a loyal member would be an excellent way to build brand loyalty. By not giving a premium upgrade, the hotel looked cheap. After all, they’re not using those “real” suites anyway, right?

While I understand the desire to fault Marriott and this hotel in particular for not providing a double upgrade, they did precisely what is in the rules. I also can’t feel all that bad for someone who had to settle for a Junior Suite at the St. Pancras Renaissance. We used the same suite upgrade certificate at this hotel and were thrilled about getting to stay in the Chambers Wing of suites with access to the lounge.

I guess it all comes down to what you expect from a hotel for being a loyal customer who earns top-tier status. For us, we don’t put much effort into getting hotel status. Either it’s because we have a credit card or hotels were extra generous. That’s why I don’t expect much in return. If I get a free breakfast or a better room, great.

If I had spent time, money and effort on getting status, I might feel differently. But expecting hotels to go above and beyond for top-tier members during a pandemic is just setting yourself up for disappointment. If a hotel never upgraded guests before, I don’t see any reason for them to do it now.

If you’re traveling now, it might be a good idea to just roll with it. You can decide if a hotel program is worth your loyalty at another time. Right now, just take the upgrade to a Junior Suite and don’t let the knowledge that better rooms are sitting empty ruin your stay.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Gene August 19, 2020 - 4:01 pm

Marriott just sucks for elites. Pre-COVID, post-COVID.

Steve August 19, 2020 - 4:22 pm

I’ve stopped chasing elite status. The benefits in the US are a joke. Asia, they definitely are, but the Asia out of bounds, I’m back in the free market. Quite liberating.

BCTraveler August 19, 2020 - 4:44 pm

As an elite on has been conditioned to expect more. At this point – it seems to me – it’s just the narcissists travelling at this point and of course they will be expecting more. In the end, we’ll see who’s left standing after the second and third waves,

Christian August 19, 2020 - 8:15 pm

IIRC, he has lifetime Platinum status. If that was all this was about you’d be right about tempered expectations but he was using a confirmed suite upgrade. If Marriott (and the hotel) can’t bother to bump a lifetime Platinum to a real suite using those limited allocation awards when the hotel is empty anyway, it just shows how little they think of the customer. Marriott runs a poor loyalty program because they view engaged loyalty members as adversaries rather than valued partners.

Andy August 20, 2020 - 8:57 am

My wife is a road warrior with Hilton, and stays in mostly low level rural hotels (Agriculture industry). Interesting to see how our award stay at the Canopy in D.C. goes this weekend. Not expecting much unfortunately.


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