It’s time for the Reader Success Story for February 2020, which features Prince of Travel reader Tyler C., who shared with me his experience redeeming points for two Marriott Bonvoy Moments packages and scoring a memorable boys’ sports weekend in California.
With continuous devaluations to the Marriott Bonvoy program on the hotel redemption side, the Moments redemptions is one area where I continue to see some incredible value, and I’m delighted to feature a success story that confirms just as much.
Now that I have dealt with the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss (huge 49ers fan here), I thought I would send in a Success Story that took me and a friend on an unbelievable sporting weekend thanks to the power of Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which lets you to either pay a flat number of points or bid in a live auction to score tickets to sporting or musical events, unlock exclusive lifestyle experiences, or dine at Michelin-star restaurants.
In my case, it all started over a few beers one night last fall, when I got an email from Marriott advertising their partnership with the NFL and the Moments that were being released. As a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan, I saw an unbelievable redemption in the live-auction format: two tickets to the 49ers vs. Packers game in San Francisco on November 24.
But these were no ordinary tickets, as the package also included two passes to Michael Mina’s Tailgate, an exclusive club that offers free gourmet food and drinks starting four hours prior to the game, with guest chefs and themed food choices that changed with each game.
The package also included two field passes to watch warm-ups and two club seats to watch the game in the stadium. The minimum bid started at 100,000 Bonvoy points.
Given that my friend was a lifelong basketball fan, we also decided to take a look at the NBA redemptions, and lo and behold, we found a Los Angeles Clippers game that was up for bidding on the Friday of the same weekend!
This package included two tickets to the Clippers vs. Rockets in the Marriott Box at the Staples Centre, with unlimited food and drink. Could we really pull off such a bold feat of winning two Marriott Moments redemptions and creating the ultimate sports weekend?
First up was bidding for the Clippers game. We logged on at 11am the morning of the closing auction and put in a bid at 11:45am, 15 minutes before the auction ended at noon. The bid held, and we ended up winning the package for 96,000 Bonvoy points.
We got lucky on this “rookie” bid attempt, as we did not realize there was an auto-bid function which would have bailed us out had there been a last-ditch “snipe” of the auction – luckily there were no snipers on the rooftop for that auction.
Next up was the 49ers package. Again, we logged in on the closing day at 11am and this time put in a bid plus an auto-bid up to a max threshold.
Sitting nervously through the last minute of the auction, we saw that someone really did attempt to snipe the auction at the last second, but our auto-bid kicked in and saved us for 136,000 Bonvoy points!
As you can see by the pictures, the redemption was unbelievable and something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
And as an added bonus, we ended up staying at the Marriott San Jose the night before the game and found out that the Packers were staying there as well. We even ran into some of the players and the head coach in the gym the next morning!
All told, for 232,000 Bonvoy points, the weekend was “priceless” and it turned out that the 49ers game was flex-scheduled to the Sunday night primetime game, which gave the game a whole different atmosphere.
In checking StubHub for tickets before the game, Michael Mina’s Tailgate tickets were going for US$750 apiece just for access to the tailgate restaurant alone. Overall, I’d say that the 49ers package alone was easily worth the 232,000 points we redeemed, so we essentially got Clippers box seats thrown in there for free. Take that, Bonvoy!
In terms of strategy, the only reason I was able to accumulate and use my Bonvoy points was due to the Miles & Points community and the fact that I decided to invest in attending in-person events and conferences, which is truly where you learn the key tips that raise your travel game. A quarterly check-in with Prince of Travel’s consulting services also helps to brainstorm new opportunities.
All of the in-person legwork allowed me to develop a solid strategy for racking up the points, which has earned me balances in the hundreds of thousands.
While I don’t want more competition for future Marriott Moments package bids, I have to say that there is some incredible value to be had through this program, especially given the continued devaluations to the hotel side of the Bonvoy program.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments is built around the idea of allowing members to redeem points for “things that money can’t buy”, and I’ve gotta say, despite the many clear shortcomings of the hotel redemption side of the program, this is one area where Marriott Bonvoy has done a pretty good job.
At any given moment, there is quite an impressive number of sporting, musical, and artistic events, gourmet dining experiences, or simply memorable things to do that you can unlock with your Bonvoy points.
I’ve also found that on many occasions, a Moments redemption will be attached to a one- or two-night stay at a certain Marriott Bonvoy hotel, often with a host of special perks thrown in (like daily breakfast, a spa treatment, or a food & drink credit).
And what’s more, because of a general lack of interest in the Moments program (especially among the experiences located outside of North America), it’s not uncommon to see these packages available to be redeemed at a lower price point than if you redeemed Bonvoy points directly for the hotel nights!
On a similar note, there are many times when tickets to special events (e.g., Coachella tickets) can be redeemed at a price point that would be valued at a far lower price than what you could potentially resell those tickets for on a third-party website like StubHub or Viagogo.
It’s definitely worth popping over to the Moments page every now and then to see if any interesting arbitrage opportunities are available.
Personally, I’ve only ever pitched in for one Moments package: as an avid fan of Arsenal Football Club in London, I had put in a bid for an opportunity to play a charity match on the pitch at Emirates Stadium last summer.
My football skills have only ever been tested at the high school junior varsity level, but it didn’t matter to me at all if I made a fool of myself on the pitch, because it would’ve been an absolute dream nonetheless.
Alas, in the end, I was “sniped” by a fellow bidder who put in a last-minute bid that was marginally higher, and unlike Tyler here, I didn’t have the foresight to use the auto-bid tool to my advantage.
I’m glad to see Tyler taking full advantage of the power of Moments to unlock what looks like an amazing sports weekend in California, complete with exclusive behind-the-scenes access and a premium dining experience to accompany it.
If you’re a fan of any sports teams, artists, chefs, or perhaps you simply think you’ll enjoy using your points to have a good time that you wouldn’t be able to purchase outright, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program for your next big redemption!
Thanks for sharing, Tyler, and I’ll be sending you 5,000 Aeroplan miles as a reward to get you closer towards the next big trip.
And if you’d like your story to be featured too, send me an email with “[Success Story]” in the subject line for a chance to be selected for the March edition!