March 5, 2024


It's time to think about Travel.

Travel Better – How To Use Your Hotel Points For More Than Free Rooms


The Superbowl. Machu Picchu. The Oscars. F1 races. Concert events by the world’s biggest superstars. Personal cooking lessons with movie star cooks. VIP access to the world’s best foodstuff festivals.

What all of these “Bucket List” activities have in typical is that they have all been enjoyed by vacationers for free, by making use of their resort factors – and in a lot of situations, they are unbelievable bargains.

Here’s a serious-daily life instance: Envision seeing superstars like Elton John or Billy Joel from a VIP suite in Madison Square Backyard, with complimentary food items and open bar with a guest of your option. Now consider that the whole distinctive evening for the two of you expenditures a lot less details than it would take to get a one free of charge evening at numerous resorts. Which would you fairly working experience? Except you are not imagining it, it is genuine, and it will keep going on.

In point, you could most likely address 1 of these VIP concert (or NBA or NHL games) activities just with the constrained time indicator up bonuses made available resort branded credit history playing cards – without the need of investing a one night time in a hotel.

Marriott is the premier resort firm in the earth, and its frequent visitor loyalty system, Bonvoy, is thought to be the premier of its kind with effectively north of 140 million users. Nonetheless a lot of of these members have no strategy that these awards, often a significantly far better way to use points than for stays, even exist. I have a close friend who is a longtime street warrior business traveler, life time Million-miler on United and so on, who has been earning Marriott points for decades and paying out them on lodge stays. I questioned him and he had no strategy what Bonvoy Times was. When I told him, he promptly appeared at attending the Miami Grand Prix.

“We designed Bonvoy Times about 2018, but with the pandemic it is nonetheless one of the ideal kept secrets in the method,” Mandy Gill, Vice President of World wide Brands & Advertising and marketing for Marriott Intercontinental explained to me in the course of the modern NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Remaining Four in New Orleans. Built about unique ordeals, Bonvoy Times is a little and lesser identified but powerful part of Marriott’s loyalty software for recurrent attendees. The Last 4 was dwelling proof, as I was surrounded by a handful of savvy prospects who had applied their Bonvoy details to go to one of the most desirable “Bucket List” sporting gatherings in the world. The offer bundled not only premium tickets with hospitality suite to the very last three video games of the event, but hotel rooms in New Orleans the entire time, private hospitality at the hotel for breakfast and cocktails, presents, and distinctive VIP experiences like a Caesars Superdome tour and private coach’s breakfast with one particular of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The greatest as soon as-in-a-life time type packages like the Ultimate 4 are typically auctioned, and the winning bids for the biggies ordinarily top a million points, which equates to a totally free luxurious trip to Hawaii or this kind of – no cost lodging, that is. But the far more regular Moments are straight up features of a specified selection of points, which can be as small as 5,000 – fewer than a evening at 1 of the reduced finish attributes in the Marriott portfolio ordinarily runs.

“We did these ‘virtual’’ a single on 1 Zoom conversations with basketball legend Grant Hill (who gained two Countrywide Championships at Duke, an Olympic Gold Medal and performed 19 seasons in the NBA prior to turning out to be co-operator of the Atlanta Hawks) and we sold them for 5000 points, and basketball enthusiasts loved it. Our Gen Z customers may well have just begun with us and never have tons of factors, but they can go to live shows at the Moxy in downtown New York making use of incredibly couple points and appreciate it, and we are making life time consumers. At the higher conclusion we have Ritz-Carlton Yachts and villas and the Superbowl,” described Gill. “Bonvoy mothers and fathers have utilized points to acquire their children to see Justin Bieber and Harry Variations and then they are heroes to their family members. There’s truly a little something for everybody. The key is to have a really broad selection of redemption amounts, some straight for details, some auctions. The platform is just having bigger and even bigger, we have has 90 working experience offers in the 1st quarter of 2022 presently. But it is even now just one of our best-held insider secrets and we’ve experienced associates notify us they do not notify their friends about the auction right up until it’s over, so they never have to bid in opposition to them.”

A single of the New Orleans auction winners was a frequent traveler named Charles. He told me he had made use of his Bonvoy details to go to the Remaining 4 a number of situations ahead of, and also the State New music Awards in Nashville as a VIP. Due to the fact he’s a Duke lover, this 12 months he also utilised factors to show up at the Duke vs. Virginia recreation at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, a little facility the place tickets for non-students are notoriously difficult to get, and the NCAA regional finals in San Francisco.

Due to the fact it has partnerships with the NCAA, NFL, individual NHL and soccer groups which include Manchester United, experienced tennis and individual venues together with Madison Square Backyard, the O2 arena in London and Los Angeles’ arena, wherever the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks enjoy, sports activities has long been the most important aspect of the Moments program, so a lot so that a buzzword close to the Marriott portfolio is that “there is a lodge model for each fan.” But the increasing platform has more and more centered on two other places escalating quick in level of popularity, live shows and culinary functions, as nicely as spectacles these kinds of as the Oscars, a Bucket Listing night for leisure fans. “Special events this kind of as the Oscars and Region Audio Awards have been suspended all through COVID, and prior to the pandemic the Oscars rivalled the Superbowl, and we are hoping to get back again to 100%. We also hope to include Coachella as an alternative for 2023.”

In typical, it is simpler to accrue and use factors with Bonvoy than any other lodge software, merely for the reason that Marriott is the major hotel firm in the world, owning just surpassed the 8,000 hotel mark (fittingly, the new Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ, on web-site at the firm’s world-wide headquarters in Maryland, was the eight thousandth opening), with houses throughout much more than 30 models spanning each and every style and price position – for this reason “a model for every single lover.” These incorporate some of the world’s top tier luxury makes (Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Luxurious Collection), “regular” luxury stalwarts (Westin, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Tribute, Renaissance), hipper models (W Resorts, Moxy and Version), center of the road giants (Sheraton and of study course, Marriott), uniquely impartial accommodations that really do not in shape chain molds and skew upscale (Autograph Selection), quite a few reduce priced, airport and frequent business enterprise traveler staples (Courtyard, AC, Aloft, Fairfield, 4 Points and Springhill Suites), as very well as numerous extended stay leaders (Component, Home Inns and Townplace Suites). Much more inns in extra locations indicates additional choices for every single kind of traveler.

And just like the airline programs, earning factors has long gone way further than just stays, with numerous co-branded credit score cards (often featuring 60-100,000 issue enrollment bonuses), partnerships with places to eat, and most notably, a exclusive a person with Uber that allows you website link your Bonvoy account and make factors for rides and Uber Eats. The Details Man, sage of all matters loyalty, pointed out that “Marriott Bonvoy also offers lots of other benefits that admirers of the program love… just take advantage of your points by booking encounters ranging from tickets to the Tremendous Bowl or Billy Joel in a suite at Madison Square Back garden to private guideline excursions or VIP access to cultural events like Miami Artwork 7 days and the Earth Expo in Dubai.” Readers of site, who tend to be hardcore recurrent vacationers, just voted it the Very best Lodge Loyalty Method.

“Since the pandemic, so a lot of folks want to get back to leisure vacation,” mentioned Gill. “We want to have the finest loyalty method in the resort small business, and we often talk to ourselves, ‘How can you achieve extra details and use individuals factors in an less difficult, more pleasurable way?’ For the Times system, we press for items you could not get your self, and we do this globally.” That can imply the F1 race in Sydney, soccer in the United Kingdom, concerts in Dubai or cooking courses with a superstar chef all through a person of the lots of premier foods and wine festivals close to the world. Some recent illustrations of one particular-off experiences redeemed contain a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick, getting a customized marriage robe made by bridal designer Justin Alexander, and a private dining experience with Chef Daniel Boulud at his new cafe, Le Pavillon.

But there’s also a second noteworthy manufacturer extension, Marriott Bonvoy Excursions & Functions. This is a compilation of area excursions and activities, this kind of as going for walks tours, cycling excursions, cooking classes, sightseeing cruises and private guides. It is comparable to tour scheduling engines Viator or TripAdvisor, besides excursions and routines are vetted by Marriott, and travelers make a reward five Bonvoy factors for every dollar used. “We are very picky about the excursions and pursuits we offer you, and it allows you strategy and do anything on one platform,” said Gill.

As she discussed, “People opt for the destination initial, then a hotel. They may say they want to go to New Orleans, and then based on their fashion and price range, they decide the Ritz-Carlton, the JW, the W, Westin, the Saint (Autograph Assortment), Sheraton, no matter what. So usually, we try out to aim on the desired destination and the community experiences that assist them get the most out of it. The lodge is just aspect of that, in just the destination it is about the encounters.”

Both platforms mesh with one of the greatest traits in the vacation marketplace over the previous ten years, termed “Experiential Vacation,” which has been epitomized by the transfer away from laying on the beach and the greater fascination in further dives into background, society, delicacies, finding out a little something or accomplishing a specific activity on holiday vacation. This is also regarded in the journey field as “making recollections,” and the best recollections occur from what you do, not where you continue to be.

This is why Marriott has designed Bonvoy Moments, a platform that goes way beyond the traditional factors for free of charge evenings redemption, and frequently offers tourists a far better value. For example, a pair of tickets to see the Clippers participate in at the arena in LA from the Bonvoy Luxury Suite with food and drinks for two can be experienced for just 30,000 factors. The exact same preparations for a Knicks game at Madison Sq. Yard (MSG) can be 50,000. On the the latest – and exceptionally preferred – Elton John farewell tour, you could go to Moments and with no any bidding, obtain a pair of tickets in Marriott’s MSG VIP suite, such as cost-free food stuff and liquor for two, for 75,000 factors. Billy Joel at MSG or Blondie at O2, both with VIP suites? 75,000 points.

To put these deals in viewpoint, all of these are for two persons and considerably less points than you would often need to redeem a single night at a Ritz-Carlton. I a short while ago stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach front vacation resort in Puerto Rico and liked it, so out of curiosity I punched up a 2-evening non-holiday weekend stay this month (April) at the hotel in the cheapest place class. The rate? 237,500 points. That’s a lot more than 3 VIP live shows and does not involve something but the area.

Or as Gill put it so eloquently, “To See Elton John for two folks in a suite with free of charge food and booze and almost everything for 75,00 factors is just insane. Some of these are good discounts. We know there are users who vacation a good deal for business enterprise but what about every person else? We want them to however be capable to have encounters, so we have points at all stages, and we are including far more all the time. It may possibly expense you 25,000 factors to get a totally free home at a Fairfield Inn, but you could have gotten in on our Moments NFL Draft bundle for just 8,000.”

There are about the prime Bucket Listing VIP deals to the Superbowl and Kentucky Derby at a person close and quite attainable nevertheless still one of a kind and specific ordeals at the other, something for every degree of Bonvoy associates – but first they have to know that the plan exists. So I am telling them.


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