Earlier in the week, I started suddenly feel sick and almost threw up, when I was reading Marriott’s press release about their winning of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotel Rewards (access the news piece here) and citing “No Blackout Dates” being one of the reasons for this.
Marriott’s “No Backout Dates” and “Standard Room Availability” is extremely misleading compared to more honest programs such as Hyatt, Starwood and even Hilton that TRULY have no black out dates and awards are available as long as standard rooms are available for sale.
This, however, is not the case with Marriott Rewards and they should simply just stop advertising it. “No Blackout Dates” merely means that there are no chainwide blackout date for hotel awards and “Standard Room Availability” means that the hotel must have had “sizeable” number of standard rooms available for awards on any given day. Marriott doesn’t disclose what this “sizeable” number is, but I would imagine it to be ONE.
Marriott discloses on its frequently asked questions that:
Don’t you think that this is basically misleading rewards members? Hotels can have limited participating days and there are hotels that have months at a time at “limited level”, but these hotels and dates are not disclosed anywhere.
This reminds me of the Cash & Points “benefit” that they launched last year (read more about it here). Other hotels are offering true cash & points that allows you to pay your award nights partially in cash & points. With Marriott, however, this just means that you can link paid and award nights to a one reservation. This just misleads the members that don’t read the fine print and think that Marriott’s program has the same features as competitors.
Marriott should stop advertising “No Blackout Dates” and “Standard Room Availability” and fully disclose the number of rooms that hotels must make available during their “Limited Participation” days that can be months at a time.