I've spent well well well into 5 figures with Marriott properties in the past year and I know that's chump change compared to what some of you have spent, but as a Platinum Elite, I feel shafted when I don't get my promised benefits. The whole point of a "loyalty program" is to offer incentives to customers to continue to use a single brand of hotels. Out of my 100+ nights in hotels in the last 12 months, 3 have been with other brands because they had to be. I'm damn loyal to Marriott.
Which is why I get SUPER annoyed when I don't get promised benefits. I almost never actually end up fighting for an upgrade when I think one is available as I'm usually by myself and staying for a night or two, so it doesn't really matter. But I just visited the Residence Inn in Greenville, NC and I know they have pretty nice suites at that property. My fiance was with me on this trip and we were staying for a week. Quick background: she's an ICU nurse that works overnights, so she has practically zero sleep schedule even when on vacation. So, the thought of having a separate room available for us to not bother each other while the other is sleeping appealed to me. A quick check of availability on Marriott's website showed suites being available during our stay, so I was disappointed when we weren't offered an upgrade at check-in. Hoping to get a suite, I inquired about the availability of a platinum upgrade. The lady at the front desk informed us that nothing was available, so I asked why they showed available on the website and she said she didn't know. I asked "Well what would happen to the next person that books a reservation for the next four nights in a suite since they show available but you're saying they're not..." to which she replied "What is your fascination with a suite?" Oh man... that really annoyed me. Without letting me respond, she handed us our room keys. Not wanting to give up, I decided to call the Platinum reservation line to inquire about availability, and when they said sure the suites are available, I asked if there's a reason I shouldn't get upgraded to one on an existing reservation which they informed me no, no there is not a reason. They proceeded to call the hotel and about a minute later, mysteriously someone had JUST cancelled a reservation and a suite was available. No apology.
Even at my last two SPG stays, I've made a habit of checking availability before check in. One business trip to Avenue of the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA showed lots of upgrade choices available but I was told nothing was available. Our stay for two nights at Four Points West Chester, OH gave us an upgrade but only after I asked for it.
I know "upgrade" can mean anything including "not near the ice machine" if they want it to, but my question is this: Outside of points alone, why would Marriott list this as a benefit if the most loyal of their loyal customers have to fight to get it? As of becoming Platinum, I've never received anything more than the occasional "Thank you for being a platinum member."
I'm seriously considering blowing all of our MR/SPG points on a single honeymoon stay somewhere fancy then jumping ship to another brand to see if we can get better service. Sorry Marriott, but if you won't hold your properties accountable for benefits you promise your customers, I don't have much incentive to remain loyal.
communitymanagers, feel free to pass that feedback along.