Marriott has just published its list of award-price changes for 2016. As Marriott Rewards members have come to expect from these annual pronouncements, the news amounts to yet another decrease in the value of their points.
Around 18 percent of Marriott’s properties will be reassigned to higher or lower award categories, with 560 hotels requiring more points for a free-night stay versus 237 hotels requiring fewer points. So, of the affected hotels, 70 percent will be more expensive, and 30 percent will be less expensive.
By any measure, that’s a significant devaluation. For U.S.-based members who tend to redeem their points for domestic award stays, the picture is even grimmer. Of the hotels increasing in price, 94 percent are in the U.S.; of the hotels decreasing in price, only 64 percent are in the U.S.
The new prices take effect for bookings made after March 24. As always with imminent price changes, program members should consult the list and book upcoming award stays at properties increasing in price before the category changes take effect, and defer booking stays at properties that will decrease in price until the lower prices become available.
Longer term, such devaluations should always trigger a reassessment of one’s loyalty. Marriott is hardly alone in chipping away at the value of its frequent-stay program. But for Marriott loyalists, the timing might be right to wonder whether Marriott Rewards is still the most rewarding program for them.
Reader Reality Check
How will these pending changes affect your loyalty to Marriott?
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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.