Long awaited, Marriott just sent out an email from their CEO Arne Sorenson announcing a range of new COVID-19 guest policies including an extension of the members Bonvoy Elite levels earned in 2019 until February 2022.
Marriott received a lot of criticism by being extraordinarily slow in their response to their worldwide members, even though they were initially quite quick to offer relief and status extensions to those members and customer residing in Greater China.
The news from this email haven’t been updated on Marriott COVID-19 response website yet, I’m sure they will update the website later.
I did expect this to come sooner or later especially since the competition has already announced their own extensions for customers worldwide in the last few weeks.
You can access the email here.
Here’s the status relevant information that Marriott just sent out:
For Our Customers:
We remain committed to ensuring our customers experience flexibility during these challenging times, so we have further extended our cancellation policy and I wanted to give you an update on those changes.
For guests with existing reservations for any future arrival date, including reservations with pre-paid rates that are typically more restrictive, we will allow full changes or cancellation without a charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival, as long as the change or cancellation is made by June 30, 2020. Please note that any changes to existing reservations will be subject to availability and any rate differences.
For guests making new reservations for any future arrival date, including reservations with pre-paid rates, between March 13 and June 30, 2020, we will allow the reservation to be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date.
For Our Marriott Bonvoy Members:
I also want to take a moment to address our Marriott Bonvoy members. Like many of you, frequent travel is a way of life for me and most of the Marriott team. It is the way we connect, get inspired and evolve our business every day. While it is the right thing to do, it’s been hard not to be able to travel. We know that when you get back in the air and on the road, your points and status will be important to you.
- Status Extension: We want you to be able to enjoy the status that you earned in 2019. With that in mind, the status you earned in 2019 will be extended to February 2022.
- Points Expiration: To provide you ample time to redeem points, the expiration of points will be paused until February 2021. At that time, your points will only expire if your account has been inactive for at least 24 months.
There was very little room to wiggle here for Marriott given the circumstances the hospitality industry finds itself in right now and for the next months, possibly 1-2 years to come.
The fact that this policy came out today was probably the reason why one of our readers was granted an extension just by asking for it as John wrote about earlier today.
This was the right thing to do and to my surprise Marriott took quite a bit of time to unveil their global policy and set the record straight. They aren’t the only company in the travel industry to lack speed though, American Airlines is so far the only one of the big U.S. legacy carriers that hasn’t announced an extension or grace period for their elite members.
As a company of this size I really wouldn’t like to just follow but instead lead the initiative to show customers their value. After we turn back to traveling (hopefully soon) these companies will need every dime they can get.
Those of us who have been around during the last financial crisis know how the industry looked like during that period and in the aftermath. This time around we gotta add a global pandemic to the mix that saw multiple properties temporarily closed and employees out of work. As such I absolutely welcome these elite extensions but let’s think about those affected by the current economic climate and those that will be in the future.