Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marriott Rewards' new offer is great for consumers but shows how hard things have become in the resort market

Marriott's frequent stayer program, Marriott Rewards, just announced a stunning new offer whereby guests redeeming points for free nights at a slug of lavish Marriott resorts can get an additional free night without redeeming additional points. Members can burn the regular amount of points for a two night stay and take home a third night free. And this isn't being offered only on Sunday nights or at the Milwaukee Airport Marriott in January (no offense to Milwaukee) - its being offered all summer long at great hotels in Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, Portugal and the UK among others.

Clearly, Marriott is having a hard time filling these resorts with typical summer leisure travelers. Group and meeting demand has also fallen precipitously at luxury resorts in particular - no company wants to be the next AIG hosting fancy getaways at fancy resorts. As such, Marriott is turning to their most valuable customers and offering them an additional incentive to come and stay at a Marriott.

For Marriott, this promotion enables them to reduce their Marriott Rewards points liability and stimulate some demand into these hotels - even guests staying for free still generally spend money on food and other hotel services (In fact, some studies have shown that guests staying on loyalty point rewards actually spend considerably more than guests who are paying for their rooms)

For travelers, as we've said before, this is yet another great reason to be burning hotel points and airline miles now - because you can! Demand is down and airlines and hotels are opening up frequent flyer/stayer award space. Don't look for seats on the Saturday before Christmas to Aruba but for less peak than peak of peak times, frequent flyer seats and rooms abound.

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