Marriott’s 2016 Hotel Award Category Changes

Marriott has just announced their hotel award category changes for 2016, which will apply to bookings starting March 24, 2016. That means that you have a little over a month to lock in your Marriott award nights before the prices change for 797 properties.

Much like Starwood, once a year Marriott changes the categories to which certain hotels belong. These changes can be for any number of reasons, but thankfully are not limited to just increases. In fact, this year we are seeing quite a few reductions as well.

Marriott award nights operate under a category system with 9 redemption categories. Award costs for those categories are:

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Marriott has just announced their hotel award category changes for 2016, which will take effect for bookings as of March 24, 2016. It is important to remember that the March 24, 2016, date is the book by date, not the stay by date. This means so long as you have booked your redemption before March 24th, you will pay the old rate.

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You can find all of the properties impacted by these changes in the hyperlink above, but overall we are seeing category changes (either up or down) for 797 Marriott properties. That represents approximately 18% of Marriott’s portfolio. Overall we are seeing:

  • 560 properties going up in price (~13% of Marriott’s portfolio)
  • 237 properties going down in price (~5% of Marriott’s portfolio)

In reviewing the list of properties that are impacted by these changes, it seems that most of the increases are focused almost exclusively on properties in the U.S. I would assume this is due to the strengthening U.S. economy, those I am sure there is more to these decisions than just that.

As to properties that are seeing a category decrease, it looks like as with SPG that Canada, Russia and Turkey are seeing large scale decreases. This makes sense given the economic, social and political climates in both Russia and Turkey, but I again cannot quite figure out why we are seeing so many decreases in the Canadian market (unless this is just the other hotel chains trying to compete with one another for a greater market share).

It is important to remember that if you do not regularly redeem your Marriott Rewards points at properties that are going up a category, you really will not be impacted by this change too much. If you have an awards stay coming up though I would definitely recommend you check the list to see if your hotel(s) is(are) listed so you can determine whether it is best to keep your current reservation (if the price is going up) or to cancel and rebook after March 24th (if the price is going down).

Also keep in mind that Marriott is unique in that they let you make your award bookings without enough points in your account. That means you can lock in stays now even if you do not have the required number of points. Quite a nice feature to offer, especially in light of the awesome Chase Marriott Rewards card deal!

Final Thoughts

While we never like to see award prices go up, I actually do not think these are terrible changes. Notably, most of the increases appear to be in the lower tiered category 1-4 properties. That is important for those of you with the Chase Marriott Rewards card as it offers an annual free night certificate at category 1-5 properties.

Remember that you have a little over a month or so to book any award nights at current rates for hotels that are going up in price as of March 24th. Alternatively, if you see that your hotel will be going down in price, I would recommend waiting to book until after March 24th.

What do you think of these changes for 2016?

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