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TPG reader Robert sent me a message on Facebook to ask about elite status:
“I’ve had Marriott Platinum Elite status for a while, but after staying 175 nights last year, I was recently bumped up to Platinum Premier. However, no one at Marriott can tell me what this means! Can you explain?”
The benefits of top-tier hotel elite status run the full spectrum of value, from straightforward offerings like free water bottles and gift shop discounts to highly lucrative perks like Hyatt’s suite upgrade certificates. But regardless of how much your elite benefits are worth, one thing is certain: There’s always room for more. Under pressure to keep elite members coming back, some hotel (and airline) loyalty programs offer incentives beyond what’s available in the regular published tiers.
Platinum Premier is Marriott’s version of a top-tier, invitation-only status. I’m not at all surprised that Robert is having trouble getting a clear explanation from Marriott, since there are no published benefits (or qualification requirements for that matter). Anecdotal evidence suggests that Platinum Premier is (or has been in the past) given to the top few percent of Platinum elites based on a combination of spending and total nights/stays, with consideration also given to stay activity in previous years. The threshold seems to be in the vicinity of 150 nights annually, but there’s nothing in writing.
The rewards are equally inconsistent. Apart from a dedicated customer service line, the Platinum Premier experience might range from nothing at all to the royal treatment. Some members have reported that Marriott staff didn’t even recognize their status above regular Platinum Elite, while others have reported staff bending over backward to accommodate them with suite upgrades, champagne and chocolates, and other personal touches, particularly at properties in Asia and Europe.
It’s a classic example of the old axiom your mileage may vary. My bet is that you’re more likely to receive higher priority for available upgrades and 48-hour guaranteed availability. You may receive other perks as well — again, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence — but since the benefits aren’t published, it’s hard to say definitively whether you would or wouldn’t also receive them as a regular Platium member.
Personally, I think the value of Platinum Premier status is dubious at best. Unlike the lifetime elite status offered by many hotel chains, or other extra status levels like Starwood Ambassador, there’s no clear qualification requirement to aim for. You might stay 150+ nights with Marriott this year and have nothing to show for it beyond regular Platinum Elite status — I think you’d be better off spending half of those nights elsewhere to earn top-tier status with Hilton, Hyatt or Starwood.
To be clear, I have no problem with unpublished benefits. The best customer service isn’t confined by program rules, and I definitely appreciate it when hotel staff go the extra mile to make my stay more comfortable. However, offering an official status with no official benefits seems counterproductive, as members may come to expect a better experience without any promise of getting it. With nothing in writing, Platinum Premier seems like little more than wallet candy. If Marriott wants to inspire greater loyalty among top-tier elites, I think publishing even a single valuable benefit would help.
For more on Marriott Rewards and hotel elite status, check out these posts:
- How Much is Marriott Rewards Elite Status Worth?
- The Award Traveler’s Guide to Marriott Rewards
- Hotel Elite Status Wrap-Up: Which Program Is Most Valuable?
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