Hotel Loyalty Strategy 2020: What To Pick As Your Marriott Elite Choice For This Year?

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This year and likely the next one as well will be vastly different in terms of hotel stay profile for most travelers so it might be worthwhile to think ahead about my strategy for the next 18 months especially when it comes to Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott Bonvoy previously introduced their Choice Benefits for members that reach 50 / 75 nights per calendar year and members have to choose an option before the Suite Night Awards will be deposited by default after January 15th each year.

Marriott Bonvoy regularly doesn’t email eligible members after they reach the night requirements to select the award, but you can do it using the link below.I didn’t get an email either and it took roughly 5 days after my 50th night posted until I was able to make my choice.

If a member doesn’t make a choice, Marriott will choose the Suite Night Awards as a default option each January which isn’t necessarily the best option.

You can access Marriott’s page for choosing Choice-benefit here.

READ MORE: Marriott Bonvoy Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

You must make the 2019 Annual Elite Benefits Choice by 11:59PM ET on January 15, 2021 for both 50 and 75 nights levels.

Here are the 50 nights Choice Benefit-options offered to me this round:

  • Five Elite Night Credits
  • 40% off your favorite hotel bed
  • Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite status for a friend or family member
  • US$100 donation to WE
  • Five Suite Night Awards

On the website it shows up as follows:

On the face of it the Five Elite Nights Credits-option is only useful if it helps you to reach 75 (or 100) nights, otherwise it won’t help you any further in hard benefits.

There is however a small bonus with these five nights:

The Terms & Conditions of the Bonvoy program now state that these nights will count towards the lifetime status:

E.      Five Elite Night Credits

(1)    Upon an eligible Platinum Elite Member selecting the Five Elite Night Credits as his/her Annual Choice Benefit, the Platinum Member will have his/her Member Account credited with five (5) bonus Elite Nights which count toward earning Elite status and Lifetime Elite status.  Elite Nights and Elite membership status are subject to the Program Rules in section 4.2.b.

(2)    The five (5) Elite Night Credits will be reflected in the Member Account within forty-eight (48) hours of the receipt of the confirmation of the Annual Choice Benefit selection.

(3)    Elite Nights that are awarded to an eligible Platinum Elite Member as the Platinum Elite Member’s Annual Choice Benefit will be awarded in the Eligible Status Year for which the Elite Nights were earned, regardless of when the Platinum Elite Member selects the Five Elite Night Credits as his/her Annual Choice Benefit.  For the avoidance of doubt, the Eligible Calendar Year in which the Annual Choice Benefit is earned is the Eligible Calendar Year for which the Elite Nights will be credited toward earning Elite membership status.

That moves the value of the five bonus nights into a different dimension, especially if you’re relatively close to Lifetime Status and can’t really use any of the other options.

I decided to pick the five elite nights not just because of lifetime but also because I’m after Titanium this year.

The reason why I chose the nights was not because I really did so many stays this year but because Marriott decided to follow an interesting marketing strategy I previously wrote about, extending the members status late (after all chains had already done so) but also went beyond that and deposited a lot of extra night into each members account.

This is how my account looks currently after the five nights have been deposited:

Marriott’s decision to add additional elite nights to members accounts that also count towards lifetime status came later and is (in my opinion) a really smart move to provide an actual incentive for members to actually go back and stay at hotels in order to top off their nights towards the next elite level.

Right now I have 57 Elite nights thanks to the additional 25 nights Marriott dumped into my account so I’m definitely staying the remaining 18 nights this year with Marriott in order to get my Titanium status locked in and also to get the free night associated with that.

All these extra nights Marriott dumped into the account will allow me to go for Titanium this year which would otherwise not have been possible and due to the likely higher number of elites after the extensions (especially Platinum) in the remainder of 2020 and 2021 I believe that it will make a difference to be Titanium. Maybe less so in North America but definitely in Asia and Europe.

Conclusion

At this point I think it makes sense to think about what one wants to do next year as a traveler with holding fingers crossed that some form of international travel will actually return. Being able to utilize my most valued memberships will be key again at the hotels I usually like to visit.

I usually like to hold elite status with multiple chains but especially Marriott and Hyatt. Hilton and IHG are easy to keep status with by the credit card products available in both the U.S. and Germany, respectively the Ambassador membership.

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