Marriott has the most exclusive top elite tier with published earning criteria. The Ambassador level requires not just 100 nights in hotels but also a minimum of $20,000 in spend, nearly impossible to achieve in many parts of the world with low hotel rates. Marriott is keeping the 100-night level, but increasing the spend requirement to $23,000 for 2023.
With that they are bringing back dedicated Ambassadors. The service these elites receive was gutted during the pandemic, and while Titanium (75 night) status receives very little over Platinum (50 night), Ambassador received very little over Titanium once they no longer had dedicated Ambassadors.
- A carry-over from Starwood, members used to have an agent specifically assigned to them to take care of all of their stay needs, including making requests and customizing things with hotels and assisting with any arrangements. The promise was that this person “gets to know you over time” and “provide the personal touches that make each trip special.”
- Despite adding the minimum spend requirement (which Starwood didn’t have) on top of staying 100 nights, Marriott stopped providing an actual Ambassador to Ambassador members. They performed mass layoffs of the representatives who took care of their best customers. Ambassador members stopped receiving a personal point of contact and were no longer able reach out to an individual agent directly as those “addresses are no longer monitored.”
Marriott Senior Vice President David Flueck told me in fall 2021 that they’d be “investing in the Ambassador program specifically going into 2022″ but it looks like that waited a year.
Marriott is bringing back assigned personal ambassadors for Ambassador members in mid-2023, as in the past assigned based on their language speaking preference and home time zone. They are also expanding their “self-service preference tool” which hotels don’t generally do anything with. An individual ambassador is needed to advocate with hotels on a member’s behalf.
As Marriott describes the service,
Personal ambassadors will perform a variety of assistance including booking or changing hotel stays and services, such as spa and golf appointments and dining reservations, as well as helping facilitate other specific requests members may have, such as tickets for tours and activities, dining options, and ground transportation.
In my experience, as a previous Starwood Ambassador member, my contact would recommend room rates for me that I might not have thought to check myself – for instance using the SPG50 rate to book a suite for not much more than a regular room, rather than requesting a suite (which would likely have confirmed) because that would have meant re-requesting “Your24” 24 hour check-in benefits once the assigned room had changed and I wanted both. They sent me occasional gifts to the room as well.
I had argued for two years that if Marriott wasn’t going to provide members with a dedicated Ambassador, they shouldn’t call the elite tier Ambassador. Fortunately they’re going to provide Ambassadors again – even if it’s only for people staying 100 or more nights and spending $23,000 at Marriott hotels in a year.
On the one hand that’s an average of $200 per night. On the other hand, since you can earn 40 nights from credit cards (25 from the premium Amex, 15 from small business) and 5 nights as your 50-night choice benefit, you really only need to stay 55 nights to earn 100 nights, without any double elite nights promotions. But credit card and other tactics to earn nights don’t help you reach $23,000 spend.
The quality of individual Ambassadors always varied, and whether a given guest ‘clicked’ with their assigned Ambassador mattered too. So how useful this service is will be different for different members. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Marriott re-invest in members who are already investing the most in them.