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Marriott Shakes Up Suite Night Awards, Sets Realistic Expectations for 2024

Changes are coming to Marriott Bonvoy’s upgrade awards in 2024. First and foremost, the Suite Night Awards that we’ve grown accustomed to will be rebranded as “nightly upgrade awards.” Marriott seems to be using this new name to set the record straight: don’t expect to be swimming in suite upgrades, even if you’re an elite member.

Now, let’s dig into the nitty-gritty details. These nightly upgrade awards will extend their reach to a broader range of brands, including Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, Aloft, Element, and Protea Hotels. While the notion of an upgrade at an Aloft might be puzzling, the prospect of an upgrade at Ritz-Carlton or EDITION is genuinely exciting, as it enhances the overall program experience. Ritz-Carlton previously hardly offered any elite benefits at all, so it’s nice to see them aligning the brand a little more closely with competitor Park Hyatt, where full elite benefits are offered to World of Hyatt members.

The suite upgrade game is also evolving in terms of room types. Marriott will expand the room inventory, adding nearly 20% more room types beyond just suites. Expect to see options like oceanfront rooms, balconies, and additional space, though it’s worth noting that even with these new room types, the 20% figure they’re promoting is influenced by the inclusion of five additional brands.

One significant shift to be aware of is the timing of upgrade processing. In the past, suite upgrade requests were considered five days prior to check-in. However, Marriott is shortening the upgrade window, now processing upgrades a mere three days before arrival and allowing more time to upsell on paid upgrades or sell the suites outright. This puts them in stark contrast to Hyatt and IHG, who confirm upgrades in advance, either at booking or 14 days before check-in.

Marriott will often try to upsell guests, even non-elites, on paid suite upgrades. In contrast, IHG and Hyatt are more generous when it comes to offering suite upgrades to elite members. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hilton doesn’t seem to have a defined policy on suite upgrades, leaving it up to the discretion of the front desk agent.

In the end, this isn’t as groundbreaking as it sounds; what Marriott is doing with upgrade awards is simply a step toward setting realistic expectations for Platinum elites and higher. While upgrades will still be part of the perks, the chances of snagging a suite are slim. In many ways, Marriott is merely formalizing what has been the unofficial policy for years – many Bonvoy elites will attest to difficulty in redeeming SNA awards under the current scheme. So, as you look ahead to 2024, keep these changes in mind when planning your Marriott stays. Happy travels!

h/t View From the Wing

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