Marriott, Hilton, and Continental Email Customer Service Turnaround Times

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Two days ago I wrote about my experience with Etihad and US Airways when it came to retrocrediting some flights that I had taken.  In the past month I have had a need to contact Marriott, Hilton, and Continental by email to fix few things.

If I don’t have an urgent thing to solve, I prefer sending an email. This way I have proof and the company can also better manage their workflows. Also, if the reply is by email and you have competent people replying to them, it doesn’t really matter where the function is located.

With Continental I had canceled one award flight, but the miles or the taxes/fees hadn’t been credited back to my account. I wrote an email/replied on their web form on December 20th to find what was going on.  The reply from Continental was received on January 26th. That is 37 days later after the inquiry was initiated. I happen to be a Platinum member with Continental. I was wondering how long it would take for a general member to get a reply out of this airline?

Please accept our apology for the delay in responding to your email; the busy travel season has led to an increase in the number of incoming e-mails and our response time is longer than average.

There had been few issues with Marriott.  Couple of properties that I had had problems with, and some points that hadn’t posted correctly. I try not to do a laundry list, but these issues were from the past seven months, and I hadn’t had time to fix them earlier. Sent an email with some attachment to Marriott Concierge on 21st and received a reply on 24th that they were looking what they could do. My email to them was sent on Saturday, and apparently the whole Marriott Rewards center is closed on Sunday so getting back on Tuesday was understandable.

But, I am still amazed how fast Hilton manages to reply to their Diamond members. I had a question regarding a promotion that they run with Emirates. I sent an email to Diamond desk at 11:57PM on 20th and the reply came on 21st at 3:25AM. The turnaround time was less than three and a half hours.

Continental should really look into how they manage the replies to email/web form inquiries. 37 days is nowhere near being acceptable. United has always been rather good at replying to complaints/comments sent to them as 1K. The reply is almost always received within a day or two. The Hilton example above is not an anomaly. Hilton has always been very good at replying to email inquiries and doing that fast. I am not as satisfied, however, with the quality of their Diamond phone line. It doesn’t really matter if the issues can be solved lightning fast by email. Marriott as a global hotel chain really should adopt better opening hours of their corporate customer care.

Didn’t Qualify for the Same Marriott Rewards Status as Previous Year – Now What?

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It is the time of the year when loyalty programs are starting to demote their members based on the previous years activity. Some programs are offering soft landings when at some others you can just become a base member. In the next couple of weeks I am going to write about how different programs handle these situations.

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I have a confession to make.  For the past couple of years I have not even come close to qualifying for Marriott Platinum status, but Marriott has been extending it to me or offered me a challenge. Last year it was 18 night challenge during a 90 day period. It coincided with a Marriott/Delta promotion for extra 5000 Delta SkyMiles per stay so it was no brainer to move some of my stays to Marriott during that period.

This year, I am not so sure. Although Marriott is a huge chain and people tend to like the Marriott Rewards program, I personally prefer Hyatt, Starwood, and InterContinental programs over Marriott’s. I do like to have the top tier status with multiple chains because none of them have omnipresence everywhere I travel to. So in 2011, I ended up less than 40 nights credited to Marriott of which 15 were from the credit card.

Here’s what you can do if you are in the same situation as I:

1. Do nothing yet. Marriott might renew you at the Platinum level regardless, or they might downgrade you to Gold. Marriott is known not to look only at the most recent year. They (computer algorithm more likely) look at the past few years to see how many nights you have credited to the program.

2. You can take advantage of Elite Buy Back Promotion that should run from February 1st to March 4th this year. You can buy back the elite level that you had in 2011 using points regardless how many nights you credited to the program. The number of points required for Platinum is 40000, Gold 25000, and 7000 for Silver.

3. Spend most of the early 2012 in Marriott hotels. For Platinum you need 75 nights and 50 for Gold

4. You can call Marriott Rewards customer service to see if they can offer you a challenge. That would typically require 18 nights in any 90 day period for a Platinum status.

5. Just accept that maybe the Platinum or Gold status is not for you, and move on.

Decision time!

Earn Up To 50000 Virgin America Elevate Bonus Points During Marriott’s MegaMiles Promotion.

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Virgin America is Marriott’s latest airline partner. When the MegaMiles promotion was announced early December, Virgin America wasn’t in the list of participating airlines.

If you would like to participate to this promotion, you need to choose miles instead of points as your earnings preference and make Virgin Elevate as the partner. You also need to register for the MegaMiles promotion. You can do this at the Promotion Central when signed in on your Marriott Rewards account.

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During the MegaMiles promotion, which runs from January 1st to April 30th, you can earn 2000 bonus Elevate points starting from your second stay. The maximum number of bonus points that one can earn is 50000. The promo thus is capped to 26 Marriott family of hotels stays.

Does it make sense to credit stays to Virgin’s Elevate program? It depends of the way you are planning to use the airline miles/points. Elevate program is very straightforward. The number of Elevate bonus required for a free flight directly correlates with the price. The Elevate point is worth exactly $0.0215.

Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, and Starwood Preferred Guest Promotions for January, 2012.

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Please refer to February hotel promotions update: February Hotel Promotions Update: Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood

By now all hotel chains except Hyatt have announced their first quarter 2012 promotions. Here are the Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, and Starwood Preferred Guest promotions.

Hilton HHonors

Hilton HHonors has two ongoing promotions that should be combinable. “Resort Escapes – you can get one free night certificate after contiguous five nights stay and second one after another five.

Hilton 'Escape to a Resort' Promotion

The other promotion is More Points promotion that is basically extra 1000 Hilton HHonors bonus points per night + 5000 extra bonus points for two night contiguous weekend stay. Weekend is defined as Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. You can earn one 5000 bonus points per weekend.

Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, Thailand-review.

This is a super nice Marriott family hotel in Bangkok that has a very good location for shopping and entertainment. I have stayed at this property now three times this past five months. As a Marriott Platinum Member, I have always received an upgrade to a Club Studio Suite.

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When you first enter the hotel it is very un-Marriott like. The décor of the lobby is more like that in the new Le Meridien hotels or bit W’ish. The colors are on the dark side and the lamp ensembles are very interesting. There is a disconnect, however, between the chic public spaces and the rooms/suites. The rooms are nice but not done on the same style as the rest of the hotel.

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The location of the hotel is very central and I like it. It is on the opposite side of the InterContinental and Holiday Inn hotels. You can just take the skywalk and go to the Gaysorn, very luxurious shopping venue next to the InterContinental, or walk bit further and find yourself at the Central World shopping complex that is full of stores and restaurants. Bit further down are the Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, and MBK shopping paradises.

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Now You Can Use Marriott Rewards Points To Book Flights + Car Rentals. Not a Great Deal Points Wise.

Marriott Rewards just launched the ability to use Marriott Rewards points to book revenue flights and car rentals. This is outsourced to ezRez Software. I think that is always good to have more options to use points, although one Marriott point under this program is only valued at around $0.005 dollars. Marriott has a dedicated website for this: www.marriottrewardsairandcar.com.

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Even Marriott fully discloses that using points for hotel rewards continues to be the best redemption option of Marriott points. I have always used my points for travel packages, however.

Marriott Rewards Gift Cheques Discontinued as of December 31st, 2011.

Update. The general gift cheques were discontinued. Marriott Elite members can still continue redeeming gift cheques at discounted prices.

Exchanging Marriott Rewards points to Marriott Gift Cheques is discontinued as of December 31st of this year. It has been a good option to use Marriott Rewards points for incidentals using award stays or even pay for the stays.

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The current offer is 135000 Marriott Rewards points to $1000 in gift cheques. Starting next year you need 190000 for $1000 in Marriott gift cards. The current award values Marriott rewards points at $.0073/point and the new one at $0.0053. This is a rather significant change that Marriott has tried to just bury on their website. You need 41% more Marriott Reward points to issue the same award in gift cards instead of gift cheques. Spa and dining certificates are being discontinued as well.

This year Marriott has unannouncedly cancelled their Elite Executive Offer (EEO) for a free weekend night when paid for one night, and their all inclusive awards at some Caribbean resorts.

Marriott Rewards Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer.

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Marriott has been very predictable when it comes to promotions they are running. Two weeks ago I wrote about the MegaMiles promotion that runs from January 1st till April 30th. The new MegaBonus dates are from February 1st to April 30th.

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The “generic” version of this promotion is for a free category 1 to 4 certificate after two paid stays. The maximum number of free night certificates one can earn is two. The limiting factor is the category 1 to 4 where the free night certificate can be used, and the relatively short expiration. Most of the category 1 to 4 hotels in the United States are not full service Marriott hotels. There are hotels in Asia like JW Marriott Beijing that is a very good value for a category 4 free night certificate.

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Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles.

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The first quarter 2012 promotions are slowly starting to be announced. Marriott just introduced theirs MegaMiles that runs from January 1st until April 30th. You can earn an additional 2000 miles per stay starting from your second stay. This promotion is based on stays and not on nights. Regardless how many nights your stay is, you will only earn the 2000 bonus miles.

Marriott Rewards Megamiles

There are 23 participating airlines. The miles for kilometers conversion will be 1 miles to 1.6 kilometers for those programs that use kilometers instead of miles. The airline partners are:

Marriott ‘Look No Further’ Best Rate Guarantee Example – Renaissance Ratchaprasong Hotel Bangkok

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Over the years I have used Marriott’s Look No Further best rate guarantee several times. Normally, I am quite skeptical when it comes to companies promising to match their prices if lower one is found elsewhere. I have to say that I have been very satisfied with the Marriott’s Look No Further so far.

Marriott Look No Further Logo

Yesterday I was researching options for hotels in Bangkok and came across very attractive rate for Renaissance hotel, where I have stayed at few times before. The price on the Priceline was $69 compared to the price of 4700 THB (around $150) found on Marriott.com. I had never used Priceline before as a comparison site when doing the guarantee. You have to distinguish between the opaque side that none of the competitors match as it is by bidding only and the traditional one where the prices are shown without having to bid.

Year End Holiday Bonuses Are Back For Buying Marriott Gift Cards.

Every year during the yearend holiday period Marriott has been running promotions for buying Marriott branded gift cards. Normally you have few choices like extra Marriott points for purchases, 10% discounts of the face value, or 10% more on the gift card that you can buy at original face value. This year is no different.

Marriott Gift Card Offer 10 Marriott Reward Points Per Dollar

All these Marriott gift card purchases earn 5 Marriott Rewards points per dollar charged when paid using Marriott Rewards Visa credit card. Also, you can earn cash back for purchasing these through online cash back websites. Currently Ebates is offering 1%, Fatwallet 2.5%, and BigCrumbs 4% for buying these by first linking to Marriott through their websites. Please refer each of the respective websites for more information about the cash back rates that may change.

Marriott Rewards Sign Up Bonus Offers – Free Night Certificate or Instant Silver Status + Bonus Miles.

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Marriott is actively courting travelers in the Asia-Pacific to join Marriott’s frequent guests program Marriott Rewards. Couple of weeks ago I wrote about Marriott’s decision to offer free internet access at their Asia-Pacific hotels for just signing up.

Marriott Rewards Sign Up Offer Stay Twice Stay FreeIn addition to free internet, Marriott is offering two different promotions for those residing/visiting, or at least having an address, at specific countries in the region. One is an instant Silver Elite status at the program and ability to earn bonus airline miles, and the other is a free one night stay certificate, which is capped at category 4 Marriot properties, just after two stays of which the first one must be in the Asia-Pacific. You need to sign up for the Marriott Rewards program at the hotel, if you want to participate to the latter promotion.

How to Find Out if Your Marriott Family of Hotels Reservation Has Been Upgraded?

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Marriott’s website is quite handy and accurate when it comes to see whether you have been upgraded or not. Sometimes I use it after I have checked in to double check the room/suite category I have been assigned to.

JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro Reservation Before Upgrade Had Been AppliedLast weekend I spent a night at the JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro. I made the reservation for the most basic room category which is Deluxe Atrium View without a bed preference.

Free Internet Access for Marriott Rewards Members in all Marriott Family of Hotels in Asia Pacific

Staying at Marriott property in the Asia Pacific region? Would like to have a free internet access?

Marriott Rewards Members Free Internet Asia PacificMarriott offers free internet access for all members of Marriott rewards program, regardless of the status, in the Asia Pacific region. Just sign up for the program and the free internet access is yours.

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