Looking at the New Marriott Travel Packages from a Different Angle…

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I certainly don’t blame any infrequent readers for becoming confused at all of the mentions of “new” and “old” Marriott reward options and award charts. But alas, this is a necessary evil when analysing the impact for members of the upcoming full merger of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards.

I recently wrote about the substantial devaluation to Marriott Rewards Travel Packages that is coming in August. This devaluation was pretty easy to forecast, especially since the existing version of Travel Packages are so valuable. To remind yourself of why these packages were so valuable, you need to go back in a time machine, until before the Starwood acquisition. Accumulating hundreds of thousands of Marriott points was rather difficult – to the best of my knowledge Marriott have never discounted the sale of their own points – so Marriott made it worthwhile to hoard them, by offering an attractive way to convert points into miles. Of course, hoarding points is usually a poor strategy, as devaluations can always occur – especially the devious ones where many hotels move up an award category or two every year, accordingly costing more points per night. By keeping members from spending points straight away, I suspect that the strategy also worked well for the profitability of the loyalty programme.

But I digress… the acquisition of Starwood Preferred Guest brought SPG’s attractive mileage conversion ratio into the family. And to my surprise, the “new” Marriott loyalty programme decided to keep this reward option intact. Starting in August, Marriott members will be able to convert 60,000 points into 25,000 airline miles. So… this means that the “new” Marriott Rewards Travel Packages must have taken this into account, right? Here’s what it will look like…

All we need to do is subtract 240,000 points (4 batches of 60,000 points = 25,000 miles) from the above figures in the right hand column, to arrive at the net amount that we would be paying for a certificate valid for a week’s hotel stay, when booked as part of a Travel Package. I will ignore the 50,000 mile option because you really just shouldn’t go for it. And as a reminder, here’s what the standard award chart will look like.

Don’t forget that the fifth night is free when spending Marriott points. Here’s where we end up on the 100,000 mile options:

  • Category 1 – 90,000 points (330K – 240K) as a Travel Package – regular price 45,000 points – AVOID
  • Category 2 – 90,000 points as part of Travel Package – regular price 75,000 points – AVOID
  • Category 3 – 90,000 points as part of Travel Package – regular price 105,000 points –> 15% savings
  • Category 4 – 90,000 points as part of Travel Package – regular price 150,000 points –> 40% savings
  • Category 5 – 150,000 points (390K – 240K) as part of Travel Package – regular price 210,000 points –> 29% savings
  • Category 6 – 270,000 points (510K – 240K) as part of Travel Package – regular price 300,000 points –> 10% savings
  • Category 7 – 330,000 points (570K – 240K) as part of Travel Package – regular price 360,000 points –> 8% savings

In English Please…

If you are interested in a hotel placed in the new award categories 1 or 2, just book it using points. You will spend fewer points that way!

If you are interested in a hotel placed in the new award categories 3, 6 or 7, again you should probably just book a standard award stay. The savings are really rather marginal, so why bother accumulating hundreds of thousands of Marriott points when you can just book high-end hotels by the most efficient method – i.e. five-night stays to receive the fifth night free, thereby leading to the lowest per-night cost.

What About 2019?

I don’t believe that I have seen any confirmation that the hotel award certificates received with the Travel Package will be valid on peak dates. If so, the analysis will change yet again.

But for now…

  1. Book a Travel Package before August and take advantage of the existing rules!
  2. Spend your Marriott points on hotel stays, at least until further details are provided about 2019

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