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Happy 25th Anniversary Marriott Rewards!

Posted: November 20, 2008 02:53:23 PM

25th_AnnvLogo_4C It's a very special day for our company, the 25th anniversary of Marriott Rewards, our guest loyalty program.  With 30 million members, it's one of the largest hotel loyalty programs in the world.  I know many of you are Marriott Rewards members and I thank you very much.

I remember when Marriott Rewards began as a grassroots effort by some of our hotels.  They wanted to recognize their most loyal customers.  When we first started the program, we had a lot of critics and non-believers, but we were onto something good.

Other hotel companies soon joined us.  Back then, the industry loyalty programs were divided by brand. Guests could only redeem points for the same brand where they had been earned. In 1997, we became the first loyalty program to change that, so guests earning points at Courtyard or Fairfield Inn could redeem them for stays at full service Marriott hotels or any other brand in our system.

Now, one out of every two guests that stay with us is a Marriott Rewards member.  They consider themselves more than customers.  Members write to me how the program has allowed them to go places they never would have dreamed of and to take their families on special vacations they could not have afforded without the points they've earned. 

One member, Tom Troja, describes how he uses his Marriott Rewards points.  He said, "I have played golf in Desert Springs, drank a pint in London and gone to Oktoberfest in Munich-Taught my kids to play golf at Absecon, New Jersey, tanned on Caribbean islands and lost golf balls at Doral in Miami.  Shortly before my dad passed away, I went skiing in Vail with him and my brothers - the resort upgraded us to the presidential suite.  It was really great to see Dad in that hot tub."

Now, as many of you know, we made some major changes to the program last month.  We talked to many of our members and decided to make these changes, including eliminating blackout dates, after learning that they were looking for ways to use their points whenever and wherever they want.

For the most part, the feedback from our members has been very positive, but from some, it has not been.  I have read your comments on the Marriott Rewards Insiders community and your letters, too.  It's a balancing act anytime we make a change, but I believe these changes will benefit the majority of members.

In the past 25 years, our Marriott Rewards program really has come a long way.  It's grown from just a handful of members earning points at select brands to 30 million members being able to redeem nights at over 2,900 hotels around the world. And today, Marriott Rewards is growing fastest outside of the United States as our company expands globally.   Happy anniversary, Marriott Rewards, and thank you to all of our loyal members.

I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for keeping Marriott on the move.

Happy 25th Anniversary Marriott Rewards

Comments

Posted By: Vicki J Menke (11/20/2008 at 07:53 AM)
Comment:

Recently we stayed at the Marriott in Iowa City, Iowa. Upon our arrival there was some confusion with our reservation. Your staff at this facility was very helpful and had the problem resolved in a timely manner. We also need to note that the staff they provide on the 8th floor is absolutely the best. We always bring the Grandkids with us and they are more they patient with them and very helpful.
We will continue to stay at the Marriott in Iowa City, finding the most outstanding facility there.
Thanks so much,
Vicki

Posted By: James W. Chrissis (11/20/2008 at 01:40 PM)
Comment:

Lifetime Platinum member. Over the years there may have been an occasional problem but never an unresolved one handled with care and attention.

Posted By: John T. (Tom) Osterman (11/20/2008 at 01:48 PM)
Comment:

I must have been part of that grass roots effort as the first six numbers of my rewards card was 000510, because it seems longer than 25 years, more like 30-32 years. In all the years I had stayed at Marriott's I can never recall a single incident where I was not treated with the highest respect and courtesy. It takes incredible leadership and teamwork for so many individuals in an organization the size of the Marriott Inc. to execute, day after day, in such a competent and efficient manner.

Posted By: Thomas A. Guerin (11/20/2008 at 01:55 PM)
Comment:

We've been Marriott Rewards Program members for about five years. We think it's a great way to work toward a super vacation, and usually try to earn then when we can. Last year, we contracted with the Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) to purchase two timeshare vacation weeks. Part of the incentive offered was a 25,000 bonus Marriott Rewards Points for each six-month period we maintain the financing for the purchase with Marriott Mortgage Banking Operations, at a somewhat high interest rate. We evaluated the net additional cost compared to the benefit of the accumulated bonus points, and decided it would be a reasonable program. Three days ago, less than a year into the program for us, we received a letter stating that Marriott was suspending the incentive program. What a wonderful way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Marriott Rewards Program! Of course, we're expected to continue to make our monthly payments, and keep up OUR end of the contract, with no relief from the high interest rate which funded the program. We really don't expect this response to be posted, but do hope it reaches Bill Marriott. We wish you well, Bill, on this 25th Anniversary, but have lost a whole lot of respect for Marriott.

Posted By: Russell Shirley (11/21/2008 at 03:32 AM)
Comment:

Happy Anniversary! I am a platinum member spending over 100 nights this year in the Marriott family of hotels. I commend you and your associates for making these nights away from my family, as pleasant as you all have made them. I wish you continued success and growth. I hope that the Marriott chain is successful in being included as the developer/operator of the five star hotel planned for Plymouth Rock Studio's "Hollywood East" complex in my home town of Plymouth, MA. Our community is sorely in need of the Marriott experience. Russell Shirley

Posted By: Stephen (11/21/2008 at 08:30 AM)
Comment:

Happy Anniversary! We always enjoy our stays at Marriott! If I do ever have a problem, the staff take care of it very quickly!!

Posted By: Chris Friend (11/21/2008 at 10:10 AM)
Comment:

Bill, 25 years is a pretty stunning anniversary! Congratulations! I have now been a platinum member for quite a few years ... I know that one year I stayed 192 nights in Marriott hotels. Not only has the service been excellent ... it has been 'consistent'. It is easy to do a 'one-off' but to deliver it across the board is stunning. I have been staying at the Sprowston Manor in Norwich for the last few years and your team warrants high praise ... they look after me really well. Thanks to your team for excellent service! I am now getting far too close to retirement and am anticipate not making Platinum for too many more years ... however, it has been a great journey. Thank you.

Posted By: Benoit Grenier (11/21/2008 at 12:15 PM)
Comment:

We are currently staying at one of the Marriott family Hotel in New York City. Happy 25th anniversary ! All Communication 8020 employees are striving in our own field to achieve the level of excellence that every customer is entitled to expect from a service supplier. You can count on my personal positive reference to all of my family and business contacts.
Sincerely,
Benoit Grenier
VP Communication 8020

Posted By: Jason Maisch (11/21/2008 at 01:33 PM)
Comment:

I want to ditto Thomas Guerin's comment. My wife and I also last year contracted with the Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) to purchase a timeshare vacation week. Part of the incentive offered was a 25,000 bonus Marriott Rewards Points for each six-month period we maintain the financing for the purchase with Marriott Mortgage Banking Operations, at a somewhat high interest rate. We evaluated the net additional cost compared to the benefit of the accumulated bonus points, and decided it would be a reasonable program. Three days ago, less than a year into the program for us, we received a letter stating that Marriott was suspending the incentive program. I would hope that Marriott's interest rate will be dropping now to off set the points. Mr. Marriott, I hope you reestablish the point system and take care of your customers! Thank You.

Posted By: Eric Wood (11/21/2008 at 04:49 PM)
Comment:

Congratulations on 25 years! I just hope that everyone goes to the Marriott Rewards Insiders blog to read how Elite Members really view the enhanced program.

Posted By: Hank Mancini (11/21/2008 at 08:29 PM)
Comment:

I am a newer MR member, only reaching 23 years. Marriott Rewards has also allowed me and my family wonderful vacations that we would not have been able to do without the program. THANK YOU. When I am away from home and see the Marriott sign I know I will have a safe, comfortable place to stay with great service regardless of where I am.

Posted By: Feras Werr (11/22/2008 at 02:36 AM)
Comment:

CONGRATULATIONS and many happy returns; and satisfying the majority of the participants in the Marriott Rewards program is a big BINGO for your chain. According to my own point of view and through my experience in the hotel field, satisfying just about every guest is totally impossible. With all due respect to all our hotel guests, as much as you do your job well there will be always a grumpy guest out there. We have an Arabic saying in Jordan that goes-satisfying all people is a target never achieved. So I always look at the bigger positive side of the picture and decide if something really works or not. Again congratulations and many happy returns for you and your staff.

Posted By: Carl Cody (11/22/2008 at 07:20 AM)
Comment:

I have been a Marriot Reward Member for too many years to remember. In the early part of this decade we become MVCI owners at Grande Vista. Shortly after we added Branson and then in the last two years we added 3 separate units at Lake Tahoe. We have used exhanges and points to fulfill life long dreams in London, Rome, Naples (Italy), Canada, Mexico, and even Arkansas. Recently we obtained a wonderful Sony TV through the points program. Imagine my disappointment when you went back on your promise to provide 25,000 points for each 6 month period that we kept financing on our most recent Lake Tahoe purchase. Our obligation to you is a legal one and we will honor that. Your obligation can change on a moments notice it seems. The reason for the change is due to the present state of our economy--figue it out. It is just as hard on us out here as it is for the Marriott Corporation but your loyal customers will fulfill their promises. Just wish you had.

Posted By: Robert Powell (11/22/2008 at 10:39 AM)
Comment:

Respondent Thomas A. Guerin missed a very important point. He did mention that Marriott canceled the credit card offer, but didn't convey that the amount of points he now gets for his two timeshare weeks have been greatly devalued. Where he thought he was getting enough points to use for a week at a Marriott resort, he will now only be able to get enough points for a few days at a Fairfield or Courtyard.

Posted By: Mr Leslie G. Bramhill (11/22/2008 at 11:02 AM)
Comment:

Quote For the most part, the feedback from our members has been very positive, but from some, it has not been..... Mr Marriott Sir, That is very true. I would view it as possible that those members who have not been positive about the re-scheduling of awards are members of MVCI. I purchased with MVCI 22 years ago, and I realised that rewards were only a 'link' to timeshare, and that they could be removed at any time with 6 months notice. However this link was actively promoted by your sales staff as a way of acheiving great vacations ( and great sales figures.) In 1986 my timeshare could be traded for 110,000 points. 180,000 points would give me 2 transatlantic airline trips, 10 days in ANY Marriott hotel plus dicounts on meals and rental cars. Today my timeshare still gives me 110,000 points, but the awards for this are such a small reward that it is no longer worth trading time for points. This reduces Marriott Villa ownership to very expensive, very ordinary timeshare. May I ask you to consider a 50% increase in traded points, otherwise I will have no option but to seriosly consider whether I should continue as an MVCI owner. I am sure that many other owners feel as I do. And what about your MVCI sales staff? They will have to offer the award of exchanging a weeks villa ownership for 3 nights in an hotel! Not exactly a great promotion is it ?

Posted By: DK Desai (11/22/2008 at 04:03 PM)
Comment:

First of all, congratulations on the 25th Anniversary! Throughout these 25 years, Marriott has provided exceptional service in hospitality industry. The service truly justifies the popularity of the brandname. How Marriott will continue to do well is something of great interest. The key is to apply emerging technologies in a right direction. As an expert in the mobile industry, I just hope that Marriott has serious plans to expand its reach on wireless/mobile platforms. No, I am not just talking about WAP/mobile web, since mobile web is a pre-mature patform and something that is very close to being not user-friendly. I really think that Marriott should develop native mobile platforms such as Marriott applications on the iPhone and Android. From my experience, it is an effective way of providing value to Marriott customers and launching a marketing campaign. I wish all the very best to Marriott in the upcoming Q's and I plan to stay a loyal Marriott customer.

Posted By: Michael Solodow (11/22/2008 at 04:07 PM)
Comment:

I am a Marriott platinum member and I travel often.
I would like to recommend that your hotels place a container some where on premises that guests can place their recycle items. Someone on the staff at the hotel can then bring it to a recycle bin

Posted By: Margaret Hansen (11/24/2008 at 03:45 AM)
Comment:

This is a great program. I recently books rooms at the courtyard in Boyonton Beach and the Miami Marriott. I was truely amazed how easy it was to use my rewards program points.

Posted By: Cheryl Glover (11/24/2008 at 02:52 PM)
Comment:

Just wanted to say we share the same anniversary on December 1, 2008 Will be mine and my husbands 25th anniversary I wish I was able to bring him to your hotel the marriott in the key bank bilding in cleveland ohio we did spend one night there this summer it was great we have never had a honymoon and we like this marriott but moneny is tight and the rooms are limited for that sat and sunday befor the 1st. well hope your anniversary goes well I am trying to make ours be the same. Thank you Cheryl

Posted By: Bill Tyson (11/25/2008 at 02:51 PM)
Comment:

Mr. Marriott, I think the Marriott Rewards program is second to none. Well done!

Posted By: Adrienne Parks (12/01/2008 at 09:57 AM)
Comment:

Hi Mr. Marriot,
This is something of an atypical post, but I thought it might be of some historical comfort to you to know that my very first part-time job was at a Marriott's Mighty Mo drive-in restaurant, then located at the corner of East-West Highway and Queens Chapel Road in West Hyattsville, MD. I was sixteen and looking for a way to create a bit of independence, start saving for my first car, and feel like a grown-up.
The training solution your esteemed father put in place has served me in good stead these many years. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, J. Willard Marriott used to have new trainees from every administrative level come to corporate headquarters where they had a mock restaurant environment set-up. In my class, there were several management trainees, a cook, a restaurant manager, and the other potential waitresses such as myself.
And this experience is really what I wanted to share with you. Your father was an innovator and visionary. He knew from a very real, internal knowledge of the business that the utmost importance in the success of Marriott was customer service.
So we all learned how to ask a patron for their order, where the utensils went, from which side to serve versus pick up their plates, and the like. It was an extraordinary demonstration of leadership from the top down. Of course back then I didn't know all the business buzz words that have come to be such a mainstain of our language, but I did know that learning how to treat the customer correctly was a pretty darn important facet of the job -- if J. Willard Marriott himself came to our graduation to thank us for our time and future service.
So my early business training at your dad's establishment taught me everything I know today about how to deliver and sustain good customer service. So my thank you to you and your dad. (PS - I've been the number one sales executive with my current employer for many years -- and I really have to owe it all to J. Willard Marriott's appreciation of the customer... and training of his employees.
Most kindly,
Adrienne Parks
Los Angeles, CA

Posted By: Daphne Bernstein (12/01/2008 at 01:25 PM)
Comment:

At the end of this year, I will sadly lose my Gold status with Marriott because my job in 2008 did not require much travel. In 2009, I will begin to travel frequently again, and will look forward to regaining my gold status. I am a very loyal Marriott customer because of the consistency in high service and terrific accomodations. I am always sure to show my gratitude to Marriott by posting exceptional reviews on the internet and speaking highly of Marriott to friends and family. The only way that I will stay at a hotel that is not a Marriott, is if there is no other option. To the Marriott family and employees--thank you so much for making my travel experiences so wonderful!

Posted By: Alina Rodescu-Pitchon (12/02/2008 at 06:57 AM)
Comment:

Dear Mr. Marriott,
We congratulate you on a terrific program and a truly successful organization. It is also admirable that you take out the time to share your thoughts on your blog.
As the design architects for the newly renovated Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City, we would like to cordially invite you for a personal tour of this historic building.
With best regards and wishes for your continued success,
Alina Rodescu-Pitchon
Senior Associate
GN Architects
212-213-8444, ext. 104

Posted By: Theodore Weiner (12/03/2008 at 05:04 AM)
Comment:

I have been a loyal customer of Marriott from the beginning and consider them to be the undisputed leader in the industry.
I must tell you that I am most disappointed in Marriott Corporate when I have been informed that as of December first the full service properties have been instructed to no longer give chits for breakfast to their Platinum Members who stay on the weekend when the lounge is closed.
That in effect means that you have no benefit to take your significant other to a full service Marriott on the weekend and for that matter to go to a full service Marriott on the weekend for the value is greatly diminished.
Is this another devaluing of the Platinum program.

Posted By: Joe Bromiley (12/03/2008 at 06:29 AM)
Comment:

Dear Mr. Marriott:
Congratulations on all of the years of quality hospitality at Marriott Hotels. I have been a customer since 1963 at the Twin Bridge Marriott. I appreciated being provided with a lifetime Platinum status some years ago when I retired but was disappointed by your recent letter that informed me that this kind offer will not be honored any longer. In any event, thank you for all of your personal efforts to continue in your Father's footsteps as the chain was developed.

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I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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