Very similar to the SPG Moments, Marriott has introduced the ‘Experiences Marketplace’ that allows Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members to redeem reward points for a wide array of events and experiences.
You can now redeem your Rewards to reserve tickets for the award winning American musical-Hamilton in New York, learn the art brewing beer with a bunch of friends in Chicago, or take a private cooking class on the beaches of Thailand. These experiences are categorized under 4 categories: Culinary, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Sports and are mostly offered in the US at the moment.
Is the Experiences Marketplace really as rewarding as it sounds?
Earlier this year in a press release the VP of Loyalty at Marriott International mentioned – “We’re evolving how we engage with, recognize, and reward our loyal guests” I would imagine rewarding would really mean curating good deals for Marriott customers as a thank you gesture for their continued loyalty. However, it turns out that this marketplace has been created to make you burn your Rewards points at an extremely unreasonable value.
As an example I picked up the Wine Tasting experience in the Napa Valley that can be redeemed for 87,500 points for 2 people. When I looked up the pricing for this tour, I learnt that HALL Wines sells it for USD 175 per person. That means if I chose this redemption I would get a value USD 0.004 per point.
Now instead of redeeming my Marriott Rewards for a few hours of experience if I decided to redeem Rewards for stay at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, I would comfortably be able to redeem a 2 nights stay for 2 people and still have some left over points. The hotel is a Category 8 Marriott property and a reward night here costs 40,000 points per night, while a room at this property is priced at USD 523 per night. This means on a 2 nights redemption, I will get a 5x higher value of USD 0.02 per point vs the USD 0.004 per point value for the wine tour.
I am all for hotel loyalty programs extending new benefits to members, however earning points comes at a cost and I believe that there should be a reasonable price for redemption as well. This one makes no sense to me. There is a lot more value in my Marriott Rewards points and I’d rather stay free for a couple of nights in a hotel than burn my points for a couple of hours on a wine tasting tour.
What are your thoughts about Marriott’s Experiences Marketplace?