Reader Question: Are Chain Hotels Allowed To Exclude Loyalty Elite Benefits On Certain Rates?

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Today I got an interesting Reader Question about something that has popped up with increasing frequency these days: Hotels offering highly discounted rates that specifically exclude elite benefits for tier members of the respective loyalty program.

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Hotels have started an aggressive fight over the remaining guests on local markets that would like to stay at various properties either for business or pleasure with some rates having dropped so low that’s it’s almost being given away.

This presents a challenge for the properties when it comes to elite customers who normally enjoy a range of valuable benefits that by far exceed the cost of these cheap staycations.

The reader email from Tom said:

I’m in Bangkok and plan to upgrade my Marriott Bonvoy status to Titanium this year. Staying at the hotel is affordable but many hotels don’t give me benefits for Bonvoy Platinum when I book the lowest rate. Is that even allowed or can I complain to Marriott, forcing them to honor benefits?

I attach the rate description of Marriott Sukhumvit Bangkok and would like your opinion. Thanks!

This is indeed a situation I have encountered myself as early as summer of 2020 and figured it’s just not worth it booking rates that don’t allocate elite benefits to me and the hotel Tom has looked at (Marriott Sukhumvit 57) is far from my favorite property as well. Pretty awful to be honest.

Here is what the rate says:

I did talk about this with Marriott last year and their position was that the hotel is allowed to offer “local rates” that are excluded from elite benefits.

Not sure what they consider a local rate because this one is bookable on the website and the rate is described as a “Special Package”:

As one can see the rate differential is actually not much. Some rates are even including a 1000 Baht F&B credit so if you plan to eat at the hotel I’d definitely consider it. Also remember that Marriott Thailand has the Megatix vouchers with up to 70% bonus but only some rates are eligible for that.

I wouldn’t bother getting into an argument about benefit eligibility when I can book a standard rate for a little more and they have to extend all benefits as per the rules either way.

Last but not least I’d recommend to look at another property altogether. The Marriott Sukhumvit 57 is (in my opinion) one of the worst Marriott hotels in Bangkok. You can book the Marriott Marquis for 1282 Baht ++ and that rate has all benefits included:

New Year Promotion

Additional Information

Commissionable Rate- Special rate for breakfast is THB 300 (not inclusive Tax andService charge) per person per night.- No extra charge up to 2 kids under 12 years old, usingexisting bedding. 12 years and above are adults.- 20pct off Food and Beverage incl. alcohol in all outlets(excl. promotions and already discounted rates)- 50pct off Quan Spa (excl. promotions and already discountedrates)- Blackout dates will apply- Rates are yieldable and will be adjusted on high occupancydates when needed- This promotion is not combinable with other promotions oroffer (Megatix, KLOOK and other vouchers cannot be used forpayments).- This promotion can use with Government campaign (Rao TiewDuay Kan) for stay date within 29 April 2021.

Overall there are always better options available than those who just offer you the basic room.

Conclusion

During this current price war the hospitality industry finds itself in hotels might offer rates that in the rate details have a fine print rule attached that elite benefits won’t apply during the stay. I find such practices dishonest and not in the spirit of being part of the chain the owner selected for his property.

For tier members of a loyalty program I’d always recommend to book a rate that is fully eligible for all benefits so you can utilize your status properly.

This does show however that the vast part of the customer base that’s left right now has no loyalty affiliation, let alone status tier. Most people won’t care and just book a cheap room to enjoy a staycation over the weekend.

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