Ouch! Marriott Bonvoy to Move to No-Cap Dynamic Pricing of Awards

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Marriott Bonvoy has announced a major change to the way that it will price award nights – and this is surely bad news for every InsideFlyer reader!

Marriott Bonvoy will eliminate award charts and move instead towards “flexible points redemption rates”. This is often summarised as “dynamic pricing” – i.e. the number of points needed will more closely track the underlying cash rate.

Marriott’s change to the new system will be staged.

  • Stage 1 – award charts will remain in place until March 2022
  • Stage 2 – for the remainder of 2022, award pricing will fluctuate between existing off-peak and peak award prices (at 97% of Marriott’s properties – the remaining 3% will be free to price at much higher levels)
  • Stage 3 – for 2023 and beyond, there will be no limit on award pricing

The only uncertainty regarding the process is whether the removal of pricing caps for 2023 stays will happen in March 2022, or whether it will be phased in during 2022.

The only partial good news is that Marriott Bonvoy will be retaining the fifth night free benefit. Click here to be reminded of how that works.

If you want a reminder of Marriott’s current award chart – and many of you will probably want to spend most of your points before March 2022 – here it is…

Why is this bad?

With dynamic pricing, a loyalty programme is aiming to get rid of “sweetspots”. But it is precisely those sweetspots that lead to members becoming engaged with a loyalty programme. Moreover, what might be a sweetspot for one member (i.e. longer stays at reasonably-priced hotels) could be different for another (i.e. high-end, luxury hotel stays).

But when you get rid of all that, and replace it with a sort-of-fixed-but-hard-to-understand value per point you end up with disengaged members. I can’t be bothered with France’s Accor and its fixed value per point, can you? I can also barely manage to engage with Hilton Honors, because I know that the points I earn won’t be worth much

And that’s without stating the obvious… that the truly aspirational awards will become much more expensive and members will never know exactly how many points are needed to take their family on holiday.

Not unlike the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, this change is likely to dominate discussion of Marriott Bonvoy for the next year or two…. as we figure out the wider implications.

Bad news for Marriott loyalists… what do you think? Let us know in the comments section…

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