Great news to start the week: Marriott Bonvoy has announced a series of very compelling temporary benefits to keep members engaged and incentivize future bookings, just as some countries around the world begin the process of gradually reopening to tourists.
With these changes, redemption rates will be lowered across the board for a limited time, while members will also receive a boost towards renewing or requalifying for their elite status.
Off-Peak Rates Through July 2020
In September 2019, Marriott Bonvoy introduced peak and off-peak rates, which allowed hotels to charge a higher or lower quantity of points for a free night stay depending on the seasonal demand.
While assurances had been made that there would be a roughly even balance between the number of peak, standard, and off-peak dates throughout the calendar, members have certainly noticed a tendency towards the higher award rates at some of the more popular hotels in the portfolio.
For bookings made before June 30, 2020, and for a stay date before July 31, 2020, there is now some form of reprieve: the majority of Marriott Bonvoy hotels (5,500+ out of 7,000+) will use the off-peak pricing during this period, which will represent up to a 33% discount on the standard rate.
Remember that you get the fifth night free when you make a points booking of at least five nights’ duration as well.
Not only will members benefit from paying the lower off-peak rate for any Bonvoy redemptions, but they’ll also be assured of using some of their credit card free night certificates at the highest possible categories of hotels.
For example, members who earned a free night certificate worth 50,000 Bonvoy points from the Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant Card will be assured of being able to redeem their certificate at a Category 7 hotel (which costs 50,000 Bonvoy points off-peak), while members who earned a free night certificate worth 40,000 Bonvoy points from achieving Titanium Elite status will be certain of redeeming for a Category 6 hotel (which costs 40,000 Bonvoy points off-peak).
To benefit from the off-peak rates, you must book by June 30 for a stay before July 31. That’s going to be a natural limitation of the usefulness of this policy, as most countries won’t have lifted their entry restrictions by then, and many travellers may not feel comfortable travelling across borders even if there are countries that you could visit.
A summer staycation or a domestic trip to other parts of Canada may be your best bet, and it can be a great opportunity to check out some of the best Marriott properties across Canada, such as the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, the Hotel Saskatchewan, and the Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea.
Our friend Nick from Distant Points has also written an excellent list of social distancing-friendly Canadian Bonvoy redemptions, which is well worth checking out.
Always be sure to check the relevant national and provincial self-isolation policies prior to travelling.
50% Bonus Elite Nights for All Members
Marriott Bonvoy has previously already renewed everyone’s elite status for another year, meaning that you don’t need to worry about renewing status this year, and whatever status benefits you currently enjoy will be valid through the 2021 benefit year until February 28, 2022.
On top of that, Marriott will also be adding 50% bonus elite nights to all members’ accounts, which will depend on the status level that you earned in 2019:
Silver Elite members will receive five additional elite nights
Gold Elite members will receive 13 additional elite nights
Platinum Elite members will receive 25 additional elite nights
Titanium Elite members will receive 38 additional elite nights
Ambassador Elite members will receive 50 additional elite nights
These bonus elite nights will stack upon any elite nights you’ve already earned, as well as the up to 30 elite nights from holding US- and Canadian-issued Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. The bonus elite nights will be deposited into your Marriott Bonvoy accounts in late July 2020.
For example, I’m currently sitting on 49 elite qualifying nights in 2020 – I’ve earned 30 elite nights by having a personal and business US-issued Marriott Bonvoy credit card, while I’ve earned 19 elite nights from qualifying stays before everything got a little crazy in March.
Since I earned Titanium Elite status in 2019, this means I’ll now be receiving an additional 38 elite nights for no effort on my part, bringing me to a total of 87 elite nights.
On the surface, that would allow me to requalify for Titanium Elite at 75 nights. But since everyone’s elite status had already been extended anyway, the only effect is that I’ll now be able to choose two sets of Annual Choice Benefits, which are only delivered upon reaching the 50- and 75-night thresholds.
I’ll probably end up with an additional five Suite Night Awards (at the 50-night level) and a free night certificate worth up to 40,000 Bonvoy points (at the 75-night level).
If you only made Platinum in 2019, then the extra 25-night boost may well help you attain Titanium Elite status this year, which you’d then enjoy through February 2022. Similarly, if you never attained Platinum but only managed Gold, then the extra 13-night boost, combined with the 30 nights you could earn from the Marriott credit cards, leaves you with a difference of only seven nights before you qualify for Platinum.
The Marriott elite ranks are certainly going to be swelled up next year – but then again, there will be much fewer people travelling as well, so I don’t expect the competition for suite upgrades to be too fierce. 😉
Ambassador Elites May Give the Gift of Platinum Elite
As a measure to reward their top-tier Ambassador Elite members (who earned their stripes with 100 elite qualifying nights and US$20,000 in qualifying spend in one year), Marriott Bonvoy will be allowing Ambassador Elites who also earn 100 elite nights in 2020 to give the gift of Platinum Elite status to a friend or family member.
This is similar to what Air Canada is doing with elite status in 2020: since everyone’s status has already been renewed, there should ideally still be some reason to continue giving Marriott your business when you travel, and sharing status with a fellow traveller is a great incentive.
Having said that, there won’t be many of us who racked up the US$20,000 qualifying spend in 2019 (certainly not I), so ultimately only the select few top-tier members within the program (and their chosen loved ones) will benefit from this.
Previously: Pause on Points Expiration + Extension of Certificates
As a reminder, today’s generous new perks are in addition to measures that were previously announced in March and April, including:
A pause on the points expiration policy until February 2021 at the earliest
A one-year extension on Suite Night Awards until December 31, 2021
An extension of free night certificates that were set to expire at any point in 2020 to January 31, 2021
On that last point, I’d expect that Marriott will be monitoring the resumption of global travel, and may offer further extensions on these certificates beyond January 2021 if things are resuming slower than expected.
I’m pleased to see Marriott Bonvoy rolling out some additional measures to keep members engaged and get them thinking about making a few hotel stays during the summer, even if it’s just a simple trip to other parts of the country.
I’ll definitely be looking to take advantage of the majority of hotels going off-peak sometime in July if I can, and the 50% bonus elite nights will definitely be appreciated by members who will now enjoy a higher level of elite treatment when they travel in 2020 and 2021.