Frequent Flyer

Easy Bonus Points from Marriott. But There’s a ‘But’

Marriott’s new social media marketing campaign wants you to talk up the brand in exchange for a measly 25 bonus points. Deal or no deal?

Is the battle for the hearts and minds of travelers best fought in the trenches of social media? Marriott seems to think so, and is using Marriott Rewards points to both engage consumers and enlist them as marketing shills.

Here’s how the company’s new social media campaign works with Twitter.

First, follow the link on the #MRpoints landing page to authorize Chirpify to “use” your Twitter account. That means the app will be able to read Tweets from your timeline; see who you follow, and follow new people; update your profile; and post Tweets for you.

For that, you’ll earn 25 bonus points. And thereafter, you’ll earn 25 bonus points for posting #MRpoints whenever you see it paired with other hashtags.

It is, as Marriott says, “easy as 1, 2, 3.” But it’s also creepy.

And what do you get for your willingness to be co-opted by Marriott’s marketing scheme, and for allowing your privacy to be invaded? Marriott Rewards points are worth around a half cent apiece, so those 25 bonus points have a value of 13 cents, to be generous. Since Marriott explicitly excludes such bonuses from extending the life of previously banked points, there’s no extra value to be had there either. The bonus, in other words, is a pittance.

Consumers understand that marketing programs are based on manipulation: If you do this, you’ll be rewarded with that. But to be viable, such programs must be win-win, with adequate payoffs for both the company and its customers.

Bottom line: 13 cents is chump change, and I’m no chump.

Reader Reality Check

#MRpoints or #StuffItMarriott?

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

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.

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