Middle Age Miles

Bonvoyed! Is Marriott’s “Unlock More” the Worst Major Chainwide Points Promotion Ever?

marriott bonvoy promotion fall 2019 unlock more

Introduction

Since Marriott Rewards fully transitioned to Bonvoy in February 2019, it has run one worldwide points promotion – the “Endless Earning” promotion for Summer 2019. The promotion was extremely weak. Basically, for a period of 2.5 months, a Bonvoy member could earn 1,500 bonus Marriott points for each stay of 2 nights or more (and nothing for one-night stays). At our baseline value of 0.7 cents per Marriott point, that meant that a stay of 2 nights or more would earn you a bonus worth about $10.50. Our thoughts about that promotion were summed up in the title of our article:

For its newest promotion, though, Marriott may have out-Bonvoyed even itself. We’re left wondering whether the “Unlock More” promotion is the worst major chainwide points promotion ever.

Moreover, Marriott’s “Unlock More” utterly pales in comparison to the great 4th-quarter 2019 double/triple points “Power Up” promotion from Hilton and the very good double/triple points “Bonus Journeys” promotion from Hyatt. Compared to the feasts offered up by Hilton and Hyatt, Marriott is offering us the proverbial pu pu platter.

As always, our advice is to register for this promotion so that you never leave points on the table. But we don’t have to like it. Here are the details:

Details of the Promotion & Registration Link

In short, the “Unlock More” promotion works like this:

  • Stay twice during the promotion period and earn 2,000 bonus Marriott points
  • After your 2nd qualifying stay has been posted (2-3 days later), an additional offer is unlocked
    • You will be auto-registered for the “additional offer” – so at least you won’t have to re-register
  • The “additional offer” that you’ll “unlock” is a total mystery – you won’t find out until after your 2nd stay when your additional offer appears in your online member account and you receive an email with details
  • You must register for the promotion by December 31, 2019, and in advance of your first qualifying stay
  • The promotion period runs from 10/29/2019 through 1/14/2020

Here’s a registration link:

And here’s another Marriott page with a press release about “Unlock More”

And finally, here are the full terms and conditions:

Analysis of the “Unlock More” Promotion

As we’re sure you gathered based on our introduction, the “Unlock More” promotion appears to be extremely weak. The 2,000 bonus points that you earn for your first 2 stays during the promo period, at our baseline value of 0.7 cents per point, are worth about $14. That’s a whopping $7 in bonus points per stay, even if you have a multi-day stay at a pricey property costing $1,000 or more. Ouch. And if you only stay with Marriott once during the promotional period, you’ll earn no bonus at all.

Another problem with this promotion is that the second stage is a total mystery. If the mysterious “additional offer” was going to be good, wouldn’t Marriott would let us know, to incentivize us to make additional stays during the promotional period? That would be Marketing 101. So, we strongly suspect that the “additional offer” will be small, probably a few extra bonus points for an additional stay.

Yet another issue with the promotion is this – What if you have a third stay during the promotion period that closely follows the second stay? The situation is illustrated by our own personal situation. Next month, we have an international trip where we have three back-to-back-to-back stays at different Marriott properties. The first stay is 3 nights, the second is 1 night, and the third is 4 nights at a resort. (The third stay also happens to be our final-ever 4th-night-free booking using Citi Prestige through the Citi Concierge. Rest in peace, good friend.) Because the third (and longest) stay begins on the next night after our second stay ends, our “additional offer” will not have even been unlocked yet – remember, it’s unlocked 2-3 days after your second stay posts. So, even though we’ll be giving Marriott a valuable third stay during the promotional period, it looks like that stay won’t even qualify for the additional bonus. That stinks. And you know what, there’s a nice Hilton property nearby and an even nicer Kempinski where we could easily move this third stay. It’s tempting to move it, for sure.

And how about another piece of bad news – the terms and conditions say that award nights do not count for this promotion (“nights spent while redeeming an award are not eligible for bonus points”). That is a change from other recent Marriott promotions, and it’s different from Hilton and Hyatt’s current promotions, where award stays do qualify (at least for the amount you charge to your room, and in the Hyatt promotion, an award stay can qualify as your “first stay” to qualify you to earn double/triple points on all subsequent stays during the promotion).

For stacking purposes, the “Unlock More” promotion should be stackable with (a) shopping portal bonuses (best current offer is Top Cashback at 4-7% depending on duration and location of stay); (b) benefits from programs such as Amex FHR, Chase LHRC, Signature Travel Network, Virtuoso, and Marriott STARS and Luminous; (c) any “Exclusively for You” offers that may be available in your Bonvoy account; and (d) any Amex Offers/BankAmeriDeals/Chase Offers for Marriott properties that pop up between now and the end of the promotional period.

Wrap-Up

Marriott should be embarrassed by this promotion, especially compared to the current offerings from its major competitors Hilton and Hyatt. Our first advice to readers is to register for this promotion and then forget it. If you happen to have 2 stays, you’ll pick up a handful of points, and then you can see your “additional offer” and determine whether it’s useful. And our second piece of advice is to take a very close look at Hilton and Hyatt during their current promotions (or other hotels) to see if you can do a lot better staying there.

What do you think of the new Marriott “Unlock More” promotion? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!


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3 thoughts on “Bonvoyed! Is Marriott’s “Unlock More” the Worst Major Chainwide Points Promotion Ever?

  1. Grant

    No matter how bad the promo is, I always register for every hotel promo out there. There is a small chance I’ll have a paid stay during the promotion period that triggers the reward, or that my brother will need me to book him a hotel reservation for his work trip (he gets the elite benefits and I get the points), or that the system glitches up and I get points just for registering (it hasn’t happened yet, but it could).

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Totally agreed on registering for everything because you never know when you might end up using the promotion. That’s always my advice. And I’ve never gotten “lucky” points just for registering either! ~Craig

  2. Pingback: BAG EXPLODES ON TARMAC IN CHICAGO...JUST PRIOR TO LOADING - OH Travel Dad

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