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Holding top tier elite status with one or more hotel chains is one of the best ways to travel for less. Breakfast is usually included, as is lounge access. A 4 p.m. late check-out comes in really handy for those weekend getaways or ahead of an overnight flight back home. And the bonus points you will receive can help pay for your next trip…
But reaching the heights of elite status can be quite difficult. Some credit cards offer a shortcut, but require an annual fee or significant spend. Sometimes a status match or challenge becomes available. (but you need to have status in the first place) But otherwise you need a large number of nights. If you re-read this post from April, you’ll see that the new Marriott loyalty programme will require 50 nights for Platinum status. (the minimum needed for lounge access, etc.)
Marriott Rewards offers a different option. I would have written about it earlier, but I always prefer to try out travel hacks for myself before suggesting them to readers. If you book a meeting room, not matter how small or inexpensive, Marriott Rewards will credit you with 10 elite nights for status purposes.
But I don’t need a meeting room, you might be wondering… Which is why you might want to book the cheapest meeting room you can find, and then not show up… 😉
Here’s how it is done… Visit the US version of the Marriott website and click on “Meetings and Events”.
Search for random cities that you think might be cheap. Perhaps near airports or those American states you’ve never thought of visiting. Perhaps in nearby countries whose dollar is worth less than the American version. 😉
You will receive a list of hotels offering meeting space. Ignore those who ask you to “request a quote” and focus on those that quote a price directly…
Five meetings at 150 USD apiece isn’t £300… But you don’t need a meeting room for the entire day, just an hour on Sunday morning… 😉 The price will automatically update…
Completing the online booking price is simple and straightforward. You will then receive an email confirmation. A day or two after booking, you should hear from the hotel confirming your booking, and asking whether you need anything else for your meeting. You occasionally will be asked to electronically sign a contract. (a good thing since one of the clauses confirms your 10 elite nights)
A few days after you “overslept” and missed your Sunday morning meeting, you will be billed as a no-show, but you also should receive an email from Marriott Rewards…
CAVEATS AND ADVICE
- Please please please don’t all rush off to book meetings at that Courtyard in Rossford, Ohio. There are many other hotels available, so let’s not overwhelm the one I chose for this example.
- Marriott Rewards has not confirmed that Rewarding Events will continue in the new loyalty programme. To be sure, you need to book your meetings for July and perhaps early August. Elite nights received during July will count for the new programme starting in August.
- Do not book consecutive meetings at the same hotel. The events manager might combine them all into one reference number, meaning that you will only be entitled to one set of 10 elite nights.
- If you are uncomfortable with the “no-show” element, I believe that the Marriott hotels near Heathrow and Manchester airports offer £65 per hour meeting rooms, but they cannot be booked online.
- If your 10 elite nights don’t post within a few days, you might need to chase your hotel contact to see whether they used the “Group Posting Tool”.
- Hopefully it is obvious, but don’t mention over email that you aren’t actually planning to show up! Many meeting managers know the game – and you are giving them free money for an empty meeting room – but there’s no need to be so blatant. That said, some ambitious travel hackers have spent time searching for those elusive managers willing to reduce their prices even further for “no show” meetings that cost the hotel almost nothing.
Have you ever booked a meeting room with Marriott Rewards in order to receive 10 elite nights? How did it work out for you?