Marriott Variable Pricing
It happened. I forgot to redeem two free night certificates before Marriott variable points pricing kicked in on 29 March. Like others in my situation, I’ve known for months that I needed to use them. I’d done some general searches, even finding a wacky resort fee inclusion along the way, but I never pulled the trigger on a reservation. My to-do list had been filled up with other stuff, and I dropped the ball in crunch time. As I sheepishly searched rates after the changes, I found a few surprises, though. Maybe this new variable pricing isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, or maybe it is. I still don’t know. At any rate, I found a solution for those free night certificates. Here’s the story.
After reviewing dates a few weeks ago, the wife and I had found a low season weekend to visit the TownePlace Suites Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The simple fall weekend trip nearby fit in perfectly to use the certs. I saw the property was available at 40k points per night, easily within the range of our 50k certs. For reasons I can’t quite remember, I didn’t see the booking through. I’ll blame the Marriott site’s two-factor authentication and my own laziness.
Attempting to Book
On the night of 29 March, after Marriott variable points pricing had kicked in, I finally hopped online to actually book. I was greeted by this:
Nuts. The 50k certs wouldn’t work anymore, plus the top off with points capability doesn’t appear to be an option yet, either. Even though I planned to use certs, the thought of 112k points for two nights at a TownePlace Suites seemed absurd, anyway. I quit trying to understand and went back to the drawing board.
I scrambled to look at other options for the same weekend. We wanted something simple without taking a road trip. We set our eyes again on another nearby property I’ve been curious to try out, anyway – the newish Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort. I’d actually considered this one months ago when I got the certs, but the hotel was out of reach with them. At the time, the property consistently priced at 60k points nightly, even in low season. But in the Marriott variable points world we now live in, I found this:
Bingo! The two nights were 45k and 50k each – pretty much perfect for using my two 50k certs. I booked, albeit holding my nose for the upcoming ~$100 in resort fees and additional parking charges that come along with the award stay. Okay, Marriott, you win there. Nonetheless, I came away with some feeling of accomplishment for being able to use my certs at a desirable property.
And that sense of satisfaction I got? That also means that Marriott’s latest trick has worked – on me temporarily, and maybe some others indefinitely. They’ve been successful in this latest devaluation in that they are giving less “free” to me (long term) while I still feel that dopamine rush of booking a preferred property (short term).
Perhaps that’s exactly why Marriott’s doing it this way. I and others theorize that Marriott may have left many properties at attainable, not terrible rates to ease us into the devaluation. A nice, soft landing into the steaming pile of crap. I’ll be happy for Marriott to prove me wrong.
Marriott Variable Pricing: Conclusion
I solved my near term goal – using certs at a property where we actually want to stay. I’m so encouraged by this pricing that I’ll probably go hunting for other gems ASAP at attractive points rates, even for speculative bookings. But big picture, I don’t know what to think of Marriott’s changes at this point. Maybe that’s exactly where Marriott wants us – not knowing what to think. Perhaps they prefer customer bewilderment over outright disdain. Rest assured, we’ll get a clearer picture with keen eyes and time. What do you make of the Marriott variable points pricing currently?
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