The Right (and the Wrong) Way to Announce an Elite Status Extension

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The major hotel chains have been busily extending elite status this month. The first to announce, as usual, was Hilton Honors. Recently we have seen Marriott Bonvoy make its own announcement. Left well behind, IHG Rewards appears to have updated its website, without formally notifying members. Only World of Hyatt has yet to make a decision / announcement.

But with Hilton and Marriott being the two biggest players, it is remarkable how their approaches differ so widely. One company seems to understand some of the major concerns and loyalty drivers of their members. The other just doesn’t seem to get it…

What Hilton did right

When Hilton announced its extension of elite status, it did two things extremely well.

1. Clarity about 2022

Hilton announced the reduced qualification requirements for 2022. These are:

  • Diamond status – 42 nights, 21 stays or 84,000 base points
  • Gold status – 28 nights, 14 stays or 52,500 base points
  • Silver status – 7 nights, 3 stays or 17,500 base points

This is very relevant information for those of us already making travel plans for 2022.

2. A recognition that many Hilton members stayed in 2021

Hilton Honors announced that ALL nights that its members accumulated during 2021 will rollover to 2022.

I am personally finding that this is surprisingly powerful. Click here to read my thoughts on the matter.

What Marriott did wrong

Marriott, on the other hand, seems more interested in pushing through its painful devaluation than deal with elite members’ concerns.

1. 2022?

Despite only 2 months remaining until the start of 2022, we have no idea what the renewal or upgrade criteria will be. More complimentary elite nights? We can only make assumptions… (and wonder if the elite status year counter will ever update correctly for lifetime status purposes)

2. Rewarding our 2021 efforts?

But more importantly, there will be absolutely no distinction between a Titanium member who stayed 75+ nights in 2021 – admittedly some of which might be complimentary or from the double elite night promotion that ran early in the year – and a Titanium member who didn’t travel at all in 2021. Apart from some extra Suite Night Awards that are already hard to use, both will remain at the Titanium level throughout 2022.

I don’t tend to feel like I’m in a competition for upgrades with other elites, but I know others feel strongly about the existence of “fake” status holders.

Bottom line

By the end of December, I will probably end up having stayed 25-30 nights with Hilton Honors and another 25 or so nights with Marriott Bonvoy.

With Hilton Honors, I feel like that my “loyalty” during 2021 – an overused word, but one that still applies to many hotel decisions – is being rewarded. Even if I ultimately didn’t “have” to stay during 2021 to renew my status, I know that my Diamond status will almost certainly continue until March 2024 thanks to these rollover nights.

With Marriott Bonvoy, I feel like my 25+ nights were a waste and that I should have just stayed at a Hyatt or a Hilton. This isn’t a position that any “loyalty” programme should find itself in…

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