I promise not to revert to being a lawyer too often on Middle Age Miles. But this article reminds me of my days as a lawyer handling patent disputes. One of the principles of patent law is that you can obtain a patent on an improvement to an existing product, if you’ve truly made a novel and non-obvious improvement. For example, Thomas Edison patented the light bulb, but others could receive patents for improvements that made the bulb burn brighter, or longer. Sometimes we refer to improvements as “standing on the shoulders of giants.”
In this article, I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of a giant. Yesterday, points-and-miles OG Stefan Krasowski of Rapid Travel Chai published an excellent article about the Marriott Bonvoy “Rewarding Events” program. The gist of the program is that you can earn Marriott elite nights and points when you hold a meeting or event at a Marriott-family hotel (a few brands are excluded).
Let’s review Stefan’s article and conclusions, and see what we can add:
Earn 10 Elite Qualifying Nights Per Year with Marriott’s Rewarding Events Program
The most valuable feature of the Marriott Rewarding Events program is that you can earn 10 elite qualifying credits by holding a meeting or event. 10 elite qualifying nights gets you to Marriott Silver status by itself, and it can go a long way toward helping you reach the higher status levels – Gold at 25 nights (which you could reach solely with 15 nights from a credit card + 10 nights from a meeting); Platinum at 50 nights; Titanium at 75 nights; and Ambassador at 100 nights +$20,000 qualifying spend.
For points-and-miles hobbyists, the “sweet spot” here is that you can earn these 10 elite qualifying nights even with a short-and-inexpensive “meeting.”
Until fairly recently, Marriott loyalty program members could hold multiple “meetings” in a single year, pick up 10 elite qualifying nights for each meeting, and thereby cheaply “manufacture” higher elite status with Marriott. But in mid-2018, Marriott took away the benefit of earning 10 elite qualifying nights per meeting. It did so in a confusing manner, and Stefan’s article from yesterday resolved the ambiguity.
Marriott’s Rewarding Events web page says that members can now earn “10 Elite Qualifying Nights (EQNs) with your first meeting” (emphasis added).
Stefan’s article, however, confirmed for us that the 10 elite nights are not one-and-done – in fact, you can actually earn 10 Elite Qualifying Nights with your first meeting each year. No doubt, being able to earn 10 elite qualifying nights annually is much better than only being able to earn the 10 elite qualifying nights one time ever.
The newest update to the Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program Terms & Conditions also finally makes it much more clear that you can earn up to 10 elite qualifying nights per year through Rewarding Events. Section 5.3.d now says (sorry, I’m being a lawyer again!):
“Elite Night Credit. Members who hold Qualifying Events at Participating Properties also receive ten (10) Elite Night Credits per calendar year for their first Qualifying Event …” (emphasis added)
Earning Marriott Points on Your Meeting or Event
We recently booked an actual event at a Ritz-Carlton property, so we gained some firsthand knowledge of Rewarding Events that we thought would be valuable to Middle Age Miles readers (and other points-and-miles enthusiasts that we hope will become Middle Age Miles readers!). So now, we’re going to stand on Stefan’s giant shoulders to provide some additional detail on the Rewarding Events program, starting with points-earning.
Aside from the 10 elite qualifying nights, the other major benefit of the Rewarding Events program is that you earn Marriott points for the spend on your event. The base earning rate is 2 Marriott points per dollar of spend. However, you won’t earn Marriott points on taxes, gratuities, service charges or other fees.
[Note that there are some other earning possibilities – both nights and points – if you contract for guest rooms, but we’re not going to delve into those depths here. If you’re interested, read Section 5 of the Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program Terms & Conditions.]
There are two other pieces to points-earning for Rewarding Events – bonuses if you’re an elite member, and caps on the total number of points you can earn. These break down as follows:
- Silver – 10% bonus; cap of 66,000 total Marriott points per event
- Gold – 25% bonus; cap of 75,000 total Marriott points per event
- Platinum – 50% bonus; cap of 90,000 total Marriott points per event
- Titanium & Ambassador – 75% bonus; cap of 105,000 total Marriott points per event
[Two notes here: One, you can earn Marriott points on all meetings, not just once per year. And two, you can choose to earn 1 mile with one of Marriott’s airline partners per dollar of qualifying spend, instead of earning Marriott points; however, you won’t receive any elite bonus if you elect to receive airline miles.]
For us, as Titanium members, with the 75% bonus we’ll earn 3.5 Marriott points per dollar of qualifying spend on our event. At our current baseline value of 0.75 cents per Marriott point, that’s a return of 2.6% on our spend.
This gets better, though, when we use a Marriott co-branded credit card to pay for our event. All event charges on a co-branded card count as Marriott spend and earn at the bonus-category rate for purchases at Marriott hotels. For us, this means 6x Marriott points per dollar, as we used our Chase Marriott Premier Plus card (now called the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card). And we’ll earn 6x on the entire amount of the charges (including taxes, fees, etc.), for an additional points rebate of about 4.5%.
Contract Language Regarding Rewarding Events and Timing of Receiving Points and Elite Qualifying Nights
Given that we just signed a contract with Ritz-Carlton for our event, we thought it might be interesting to some people if we provided the exact language in our event contract that relates to Rewarding Events.
Basically, the contract language refers you to the Loyalty Program Terms & Conditions for details. It adds one important point, which is that you should expect your points (and presumably, elite night credits) to appear in your Marriott account within approximately 10 business days after your event.
Here is the relevant contract language (which we assume will soon be updated to refer to the new single, integrated Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program):
Loyalty Program – Rewarding Events
Marriott International, Inc. and its subsidiaries offer travelers a choice of three frequent travel programs (each, a “Loyalty Program”): the Marriott Rewards® Program, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Program and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Program. Rewarding Events(SM) (“Rewarding Events”) provides points, miles, or other Loyalty Program currency in certain regional markets to eligible Loyalty Program members who book and hold qualifying groups, meetings, and events at participating hotels.
Approximately ten (10) business days after the conclusion of the Event (provided that the Event is not cancelled and Client has otherwise complied with the material terms and conditions of this Agreement), the Hotel will either award points or submit an award for airline miles to the Member identified below:
Rewarding Events is not available in certain circumstances, including (1) for any government employee or official booking a government event (U.S. government event or non-U.S. government event); (2) for any employee of a state-owned or state-controlled entity (“SOE”) booking an event on behalf of the SOE; or (3) for any other planner or intermediary when booking an event on behalf of a non-U.S. governmental entity or SOE. Hotels in the Asia Pacific region are restricted from awarding Rewarding Events points or miles to any intermediary booking an event on behalf of any governmental entity or SOE.
GROUP MUST CHECK ONE OPTION BELOW:
◘ The Contact (as identified on page 1 of this Agreement or the Authorized Signer of this Agreement) is eligible to receive Rewarding points or airline miles
Member Name ____________________
Loyalty Program Member Number ____________________
*If airline miles are desired instead of Rewarding Events points, please also provide:
Frequent flier airline miles account number ____________________
Airline Name ____________________
We hope we’ve provided you with useful additional information on the Marriott Rewarding Events program – that is, something novel and non-obvious as we stand on the giant shoulders of Stefan’s excellent article from yesterday!
Do you have additional thoughts, comments or strategies with respect to the Marriott Rewarding Events program? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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