Marriott has announced a major change to part of its loyalty program. Beginning March 1, 2023, Marriott Bonvoy members staying at Protea Hotels will only earn one elite night credit for every two nights stayed.
This is not only strange, but also unprecedented, as it’s the first time a loyalty program has introduced partial elite night credits. In addition to this, the number of points earned per dollar spent at Protea Hotels will also be cut in half, with the rate going down to 5 points per dollar spent.
Marriott Reduces Elite Night Credits at Protea Hotels
If you’ve never heard of Protea Hotels, it’s one of Marriott’s 30 unique brands that’s primarily based across 10 countries in Africa. You won’t find them in any other part of the world, so this change only affects travellers who earn the majority of their elite nights in Africa.
As of March 1, 2023, Marriott will be only crediting one elite night for every two nights stayed at Protea Hotels, with no partial nights given. The new rate will apply as long as your check-out date is on or after March 1, 2023.
If you’re staying at a Protea Hotel during this period, it’d be wise to split the stay into two reservations, with the first checking out on February 28, 2023 to maintain the current earn rate of one elite night per night stayed.
With the elite night rules changing, staying one night at a Protea Hotel won’t earn any elite nights, and staying three nights at a Protea Hotel would earn one elite night. Therefore, if you’re staying for an odd number of nights, you’d earn elite nights at a rate under 1/2, and if you’re staying an even number of nights, you’d earn nights at exactly the rate of 1/2.
Recall that the standard amount of elite nights provided is one per night stayed, and this applies across all of Marriott’s other brands, and all other loyalty programs, for that matter. Therefore, elite night rates going down to 1/3 for some stays is quite a severe devaluation.
As part of this change, Marriott will also be reducing the base number of points earned per dollar spent at Protea Hotels, going down to 5 points per dollar spent rather than the current 10.
Compared to the reduction in elite night accrual, reducing the points earned is a minor change, considering limited-service and long-term brands like Residence Inn and Towneplace Suites already only earn 5 points per dollar spent.
What Does This Mean for Other Marriott Brands?
It’s important to note that this doesn’t change anything for any of Marriott’s many other brands. Unless you live in, travel to, or have an upcoming trip planned in countries across Africa, you’re not likely to be affected by this devaluation.
In other words, there’s no indication that Marriott is planning to apply a similar policy at any other properties.
On the other hand, this sets a concerning precedent going forward, and just because Marriott hasn’t announced any changes to other brands doesn’t mean that it won’t apply similar policies elsewhere in the future.
One possible reason for this change could be that there were enough people gaining status through Protea Hotels, and Marriott wanted to quell the number of guests with elite status. This is almost certainly not the case, given that you can earn Platinum status simply by holding a credit card, and you can take advantage of the current global promotion to fast track towards status.
Another thought that comes to mind is that perhaps Protea Hotels are much cheaper than the rest of Marriott’s brands, and Marriott members could be continuously mattress running at Protea Hotels to qualify for or maintain status. However, upon taking a glance, Protea Hotels aren’t particularly cheap in neither points nor cash compared to North American options for mattress running, so this must also not be the main reason for Marriott’s change.
Without knowing the impetus behind Marriott’s decision to make such an unprecedented change in the hotel loyalty space, it’s concerning to think that the same change could be implemented at other Marriott brands. For example, it’s entirely possible that other limited-service properties, such as Moxys and Alofts, could see elite nights changed in such a way.
Hopefully, this is an issue exclusive to Protea Hotels, and is not indicative of the direction Marriott is taking when it comes to earning elite nights.
Beginning March 1, 2023, Marriott will only be crediting one elite night for every two nights stayed at Protea Hotels. There are no fractional elite nights, so you’ll earn a different proportion of elite nights to actual nights stayed, depending on if you’re staying for an odd or an even number of nights.
Hopefully, this is one-off change to the loyalty program by Marriott Bonvoy, and it doesn’t spread to any other brands such as Moxy, Four Points, AC Hotels, and so forth. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see reduced elite nights earned at premium and luxury brands, which certainly don’t come as cheap.
Luckily, this change only affects you if you tend to frequent Protea Hotels regularly. Otherwise, it’s business as usual for your 2023 hotel status strategy.
This is definitely a bummer, especially given the short notice.
Do you know how this affects the current promotion of one bonus elite night per night stayed? For example, will a 3 night stay earn 1 night per the 0.5 elite nights per night, plus 3 elite nights with the promotion?