When Marriott introduced peak, off peak and standard pricing with points, there was hope.

The hotel behemoth spoke of a balance existing between dates where you’d need fewer points than before, dates where it all remained the same, and those new dates where the places you want to stay are going to cost more points. Those days may be long gone, and it’s an odd time for Bonvoy and its many hotels to play games with points redemption opportunities.

Off Peak, Off Limits?

Balance was a key distinction when Marriott Bonvoy sold the dream of the new program, making sure previous opportunities weren’t lost, and new better opportunities were put into place to balance out the devaluations.

When the “new” program kicked off, the vast majority of hotels offered dates of which roughly 25% were off peak, 50% standard and 25% peak. Loyalty Lobby recently uncovered a variety of hotels where that “balance” is now down to 2% of overall stays for the year being off peak, with tons below 5%. In most cases, the balance was shifted mostly to peak, rather than even standard.

That’s as little as one week per year where off peak pricing is available!

Worse, hotels aren’t even offering off peak dates during actual off peak travel times. Even the lowest seasons are being classed as peak for making a points redemption, with leisure destinations such as Southeast Asia, Maldives and hotels in European getaways among the most aggressive offenders.

St. Regis Maldives

Hotels Get Paid When You Use Points

Hotels don’t get paid in points, they get an amount of cash based on a variety of factors around your points booking. Marriott sets which dates are peak, standard or off peak using points, not hotels.

Dates where the hotel is near empty, the hotel might get a third of what the going rate is in cash, for taking your points booking, but on a peak nearly full occupancy basis, they might get the exact equivalent of the cash rate. There’s much more on this here, if you want to get technical.

Basically, hotels actually like taking your points more when they’re near full than when they’re not, because they get paid much more.

Marriott Bonvoy: In Or Out?

Hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy program, which are mostly independently owned outside of Marriott, benefit greatly from the exposure and opportunities that come with being part of the Bonvoy collection of hotels.The hotels get extra eyeballs at every turn, are much more visible in every search and are able to capitalize on Bonvoy loyalists who might otherwise go elsewhere.

With too few off peak, or even standard dates Marriott Bonvoy is caving on its promise to members. Marriott Bonvoy was very careful never to set a specific balance for peak, off peak and standard dates, and it appears they’re now running wild with the ambiguity. Naturally, guests are finding themselves increasingly frustrated with the values their points bring.

Protecting the value of the Bonvoy loyalty program is worth billions, so at some point either greater clarity or new opportunities will become necessary. Until then, Bonvoy members will continue to find their points worth less, and that tends to send loyalty enthusiasts packing…

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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18 Comments

  1. Anyone surprsied by this? and the commercials about Marriott cleaning and sanitzing thier their rooms. Does anybody beleive Marriott anymore? Multiple data breaches, massive devalautions, lying about peak/off peak, refusing to hold Marriott flag proeprties accountable, a massively botched merger, etc, etc

  2. It sounds like you, and Loyalty Lobby, are accusing the individual hotel owners of choosing which nights are deemed “peak” or “off peak.”

    No, Marriott Bonvoy makes that choice, and changes the peak nights every month to push popular nights into the peak category. Marriott’s claim that there would be equal numbers of peak and off peak nights was always stated to be an equal number _system-wide_, not equal at any individual hotel. Every time you see a peak night in the Maldives, that’s one more off-peak night in Bakersfield.

    At the start the Marriott apologists claimed that Marriott would not game the peak/off-peak nights, and the haters claimed they would, given some time. You have proven the haters to be right. Gee, have fun on your cheap vacation to Bakersfield, Marriott lovers.

  3. Hotel operators do not have a choice of when they are on peak or off peak or standard. Its all done by a computer algorithim based on the submarket of the city the hotel is located in. Depending on how dense the city is its a cluster of 5-8 hotels. The algorithim runs once a month every month.

  4. Another illustration of Marriott’s crazy fortress mentality where everybody is an enemy. It’s both sad and pathetic. I’m trying to come up with a single change Marriott has made since the inception of Bonvoy that was made solely to benefit the loyal customer but can’t come up with a single one, although there’s obviously no shortage of changes to harm loyal customers. No wonder Hyatt is the new Starwood for people that care about being treated fairly.

  5. I so miss Starwood. What is the “point” of even having Marriott credit cards? I eliminated my Chase Bonvoy card when they began devaluation and my Amex card will be next. Hyatt is getting it right, and there are more choices than in the past. I have a few hundred thousand points to burn up, (and that will take a lot less time now), and then, Bon Voyage! If I were Amex and Chase, I d be reviewing my contacts, their revenue has to be tanking.

  6. Was just checking fall travel at one of the marriotts in Aruba. Not one off peak day in October, November, December. Wouldn’t consider fall travel in Aruba peak season. Had planned on using my bonvoy brilliant 50,000 point certificate for one night, but that is worthless considering all the recent point devaluations. Will be cancelling my brilliant card this summer upon renewal. Cancelled my regular bonvoy card last month. No retention offer, so goodbye Marriott. Focusing my spend to Hyatt. Recently booked Hyatt kauai trip for January, same amount of points that it was last 3 years, no resort fee on points, no outrageous parking fees. Are you listening Marriott? Doubt it.

  7. I remember upgrading a room in the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku to a suite and marvelling at the ability to do so, after only earning points in that every same hotel. That was way before some of you were old enough to go out alone !

    Now I earn way more but I look for value more. I find the points thing largely meaningless as even expensive stays don’t trigger much value and for the past decade, corporate spend on my Amex and Mastercards has brought in most of my points.

    Now Bonvoy is devalued via the Starwood Amex earning capacity, I doubt I’ll collect many more Bonvoy points and my 400k or so left will find a home somewhere, perhaps over to BA Avios ?

    What someone like me would really like is the ability to buy status. I travel widely but could hit more chains and stuff like upgrades is nice but breakfast means way more.

  8. @Talay You can buy status. The Hilton Aspire card gives you diamond. Get a Marriott business and personal card and you’re more then half way to Platinum. Or buy points at Marriott next week at $0.0078 each and they’ll count toward your lifetime status requirement. IHG card gives you platinum in their program. Hyatt lets you earn nights toward status with their card.

  9. I was hoping to get enough exchange points for my week at my Marriott Kauai Hawaii timeshare this Christmas to spend a few nights on the mainland. They offered 120,000 points. Can’t get one night at a nice Marriott for that amount of points. Needless to say trying to sell my Marriott timeshare after 30 years. Just seen enough of Hawaii. Interval International give no preference to Marriott timeshare owners, even when the facilities are superior to many we have exchanged for.

  10. I know I’m in the minority but I have no problem with Marriott at all. Of course I’m lifetime Titanium (which isn’t even offered anymore) so can stay when and where I want without chasing nights so can cherry pick staying at their properties. Also, highest level (or close) in 5 other hotel programs (including Hilton, IHG and Hyatt) and 2 casino/hotel programs (Caesars and MGM) plus have the ability to pay for independent hotels versus having to use points if I prefer. Again, I’m selective and don’t feel any real attachment to ANY hotel or air program (lifetime elite on DL and AA also). Guess those are the “benefits” of 35 years of business travel, around 8 million frequent flyer miles and over 2000 nights in hotels.

  11. Marriot is horrible. Consistently downgrading and devaluing your points. the whole corona thing being handled ridiculous Hilton came in and extended everyone’s free nights for two years. I called Marriott and I had an argument based on a hotel I booked in September in New York City. The guy was asking me and questioning me like why wouldn’t I travel to New York in September. I asked him if he would go and is he a doctor? Think not for $10 an hour. Nice as was on the platinum line. Customer service is garbage. Marriott is out for themselves. Company has gone downhill and the value of points is always diminishing.

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