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Marriott extends suspension of brand standards and elite benefits guarantee through September 15, 2020

July 08, 2020
4 min read
Marriott extends suspension of brand standards and elite benefits guarantee through September 15, 2020
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Editor's Note

</strong>This post has been updated to reflect Marriott's extension of its elite benefits guarantee and brand standards suspension through September 15, 2020

Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect Marriott's extension of its elite benefits guarantee and brand standards suspension through September 15, 2020

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has upended nearly every element of the travel experience and made it harder for hotels to deliver the experience that guests expect. Properties have been forced to deal with supply chain issues, staffing shortages, and various local and federal health regulations.

As anyone who's stayed in a hotel recently will tell you, things are far from normal and travelers are noticing the difference.

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In order to ease the burden on struggling properties, Marriott announced on its first-quarter earnings call in March that it would be suspending brand standards. Normally hotels (especially upscale, luxury properties) have strict standards set out by Marriott corporate that they have to adhere to or they could be fined or potentially even removed from the brand. These brand standards cover everything from the toiletries in your room to the benefits offered to elite members and much more.

Further Reading: Your ultimate guide to Marriott hotel brands

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St. Regis Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island. Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy
Rigid brand standards allow hotels like the St. Regis Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island to differentiate themselves from other luxury properties. Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy

Loyalty Lobby is reporting that in addition to suspending brand standards, Marriott has also suspended its elite benefits guarantee. While both suspensions were initially set to run through July 5, 2020, Loyalty Lobby has also reported that these suspensions have been extended through September 15, 2020.

The elite benefits guarantee entitles Marriott elite members to a specific amount of compensation (in the form of cash or points) if certain benefits like free breakfast or lounge access aren't offered. Here's what John Wolf, Marriott's VP of Loyalty, had to say about the situation:

"The evolving situation caused by COVID-19 is creating a very challenging business environment, therefore the request for compensation for our Elite Guarantees (Ultimate Reservation Guarantee, Lounge access, Guaranteed Room type and Elite Welcome gift) are currently being waived... "

Together these moves will allow property owners to cut costs and hopefully prevent more hotels from going out of business as the pandemic and associated travel restrictions stretch on. However, this is also a stark reminder that if you're staying at a luxury hotel in the near future, you might not be getting the full experience. One of the easiest areas for hotels to cut costs, thanks to these changes, is by closing down executive lounges, bars or restaurants when the hotel is at low occupancy.

Hopefully, Marriott's hundreds of luxury hotels will take it upon themselves to offer their guests some form of alternative, such as room service breakfast if the lounge is closed, but without the elite benefits guarantee they're under no obligation to do so.

Bottom line

It goes without saying that hotels need to cut costs and adapt in order to survive a prolonged drop in business, and I don't begrudge them that. However, as a long time Marriott Titanium elite member, I'm not thrilled that the elite benefits guarantee was suspended without any notice to members. Many luxury hotels are charging the same rates they were before the pandemic started, but without corporate brand standards to follow or an elite benefits guarantee, you may end up getting significantly less than you pay for.

Featured image by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy

Featured image by St. Regis Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island. Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees