st regis maldives
The St. Regis Maldives

Dear Marriott Bonvoy,

Happy belated birthday, and congratulations on a “brilliant” first year. It’s hard to believe that you’ve done so much in such a short span of time. Somehow, you managed to turn Platinum into Titanium and grow so strong that even your missteps are so adorable, people call them “getting bonvoyed“.

Aww, cute. With a heart full of nostalgia, let’s look back at your first year on earth.

You were the love child of Starwood and Marriott. Before birthing you, Starwood was one of the most beloved hospitality brands in history, with teams so passionate about making customers happy, they realized that some parts of the business didn’t need to make money, because the good will and extra spend generated from treating customers like family lead to massive financial success elsewhere.

We hoped Starwood would remain strong in you through your first year, and we’d see it in your eyes every day, but with each day, the power of your other parent, Marriott seems to have you headed in quite a different direction. Marriott had a plan for you all along.

a group of tall buildings with lit up tablesIn just one year, you managed to increase the number of points someone might need to pay for a hotel night, made it harder to find availability, slashed benefits and had more IT failures than airlines most famous for them. That’s not easy, and my have you been busy for just an infant!

But you are infant, and anyone should be fair and understanding accordingly, taking it all in stride with you.

Boy did we all laugh when your IT system started checking out guests without their knowledge, cancelling reservations, losing perks or free nights certificates guests had earned; and making it impossible to reach your ever so friendly customer service agents when they happened.

You little devil, you!

Other parents watched as you shifted to peak, off peak and standard redemption rates, and most didn’t mind, but you found a way to show them! Allowing hotels to switch between which of those they’d like to be at any given time was a stroke of genius. Even people with confirmed bookings don’t quite know what they need to pay, and that’s mighty clever for a little one!

But it’s not easy being a kid, it’s not fair to judge an infant and in your second year, this birthday card is hope that wisdom becomes you. You can become Bonvoy Brilliant!

Bringing together so many properties around the world where you can earn and redeem benefits is amazing, and so is leveraging your powerful position in the hospitality world so that people can use their points for priceless experiences. Don’t let those hotels off the hook when they don’t play nice with the nice people who bring you birthday presents though.

If you could strive to become the “most loved” hotel group, rather than “the biggest”, you might find that many of those who unfriended you in your first year come clawing back, cameras out, ready to be BFF forever, again.

It’s important for any kid to choose wisely who they learn and listen from, and I hope in your second year, you listen to the people who stay in your hotels and make it easier for them to get in touch with you, not the corporate flow charts and marketing gurus who justify their inflated sense of self worth.

The term “guest” says everything about what the hotel world should be. Please look it up when your eyes fully develop.

The world is a beautiful place, and you’ll play such a happy part in people’s lives, if you stop cutting corners on IT, slashing away value for unnecessary profit gains and take things to heart. You’ve got so much going for you, and more of a head start than most in life. Some might even call you a silver spoon kid!

Become the easiest baby brand one to get in touch with, and one that makes it right when these little teething issues happen. Make people feel welcomed, golden rule it and continue to leverage your one of a kind position into powerful joys for your members. If you do, your second birthday party may be filled with more joy than jokes.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Meh – Bonvoy and the Corona virus are both enfants terribles. Even travelers against abortion would make an exception for these brats. Are we are stuck living with these evil children of the devil or can someone find an exorcist with a supersized spray bottle full of holy water?

  2. A lovely sentiment, if unlikely. Companies that view customers as enemies don’t tend to suddenly reverse course.

    1. What an hilarious parody, and so sad but true. I’m an Ambassador Elite and (except in Europe, where they still seem to care about personal service and excellence) I get fewer and more meh upgrades and attention than I did back in my good ol’ Gold Elite days… I think you could have titled the article “Hilton, Here We Come!”

  3. Lol. Lol. Lol. Well said. Anyone with an ounce of conscious or intelligence has moved on to another brand, including many of Starwood’s most loyal customers. The only ones left behind are those Marriott morons who thought Marriott’s original program great in the first place and are now overjoyed by the extra benefits while those who know the true value of loyalty, customer service and points are long gone

  4. Marriott has gone downhill since this merger. My husband is titanium so been with Matiott for years. Quality control is way down. Hair in beds, dirty pillowcases, hair in showers and sinks, glasses obviously used by previous guests, staff indifferent to complaints. This has all been within the year. What happened Marriott?????

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