Marriott Bonvoy annual category changes coming on March 4, 2020

Marriott Hotels seems to be on a roll with changes with the Marriott Bonvoy programme. Within a day of putting through an amendment which allows all hotels in the Marriott system to control capacity available for redemptions,  they have notified the changes coming to the Marriott Award Categories of hotels with effect from March 4, 2020.

Marriott Hotel Downtown, Abu Dhabi

To be fair to hotel chains, these changes are pushed through once a year usually to recalibrate hotel categories, to ensure the chains are getting a fair amount of points redeemed per the average rate of the hotel. However, within the last year, Marriott also went through with peak/off-peak pricing and capacity controls, so this year we should have been more in line with the mean already.

No. It isn’t, turns out. Marriott has just released the full list of category changes for 2020. Like I mentioned ahead, this list is valid for redemption bookings made from March 4, 2020, onwards. This time around, the changes are somewhat gut-wrenching.  29% of hotels will change in category. But,

  • 7% of hotels are going down one or more reward category
  • 22% of the hotels are going up one or more category

This means, 15% of the properties will see a net increase in the number of points required as compared to the 2019 redemption chart. As a point of comparison, the 2019 award chart changes only moved categories of 5% of the hotels. Not just that, this is subject to the peak/off-peak pricing as well now. Here is the chart which governs which property costs how many points at what point of time.

Let’s have a look at hotels closer home to see how many of them got impacted.

  • Out of 124 hotels present in India with a Marriott flag as of February 6, 2019, 26 are changing categories, so about 21% of hotels are impacted.
    • 17 Hotels are going to be more expensive in terms of the redemption requirements, so about 14% of Indian hotels going up.
    • 9 Hotels are going to be less costly in terms of redemption requirements, so about 7% of the Indian hotels going down.

This looks seems that Marriott gave its regional teams a task to carve out changes in proportion to the worldwide number, more up than down.

Here is the full list of Indian hotels going up or down.

W Goa is almost always full, whatever be the price so no surprises it is going up. Also, the Goa Marriott is going up. But what surprises me is the Le Meridien Goa going up one category. It is like they wanted to bring up everything to make the ITC Grand Goa not look so bad in terms of redemption pricing. And there are some far-reaching changes to the ITC hotel collection as you can see.

The good news is, you still have one month to redeem your points at the lower rates if you were planning a redemption later in the year. If you don’t have enough points, you can still acquire the American Express Platinum Charge Card which would get you 110,000 points as quickly you do the minimum spends and pay the fees. These points are transferable 1:1 for Marriott Bonvoy, and I look at it as a great way to buy points at 55 paise each.

What do you make of the changes coming to Marriott Bonvoy? Any particular hotel going up a category which affects your plans?


About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. This will be nitpicking but shouldn’t the hotels going downgraded be color coded as green?
    After all, we associate green as going ahead. 🙂
    And thanks for the timely blog. I advised a friend just in time about this and he immediately booked his stay in a hotel which would be uplifted.

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