**Update: A document containing the apparent terms and conditions of the new merged loyalty program was leaked over the weekend, and in it says that members will not be able to book pre-merger SPG hotels via Points Advance. If the document turns out to be official policy, that will put quite a damper on those wanting to book an SPG property with their travel package hotel certificates.**
One of the last remaining pieces of the Marriott/SPG merger puzzle that we’ve been waiting to hear more news about is how unbooked hotel certificates from Marriott Travel Packages purchased pre-merger will be handled post-merger (August 18).
While we don’t have full details yet, we now know the following:
- You will not be able to use (read: attach to a reservation) these travel package hotel certificates between the dates of August 18 and September 17.
- Old travel package hotel certificates will be converted into “new certificates”, and you will be able to attach them to reservations again on September 18.
What we still don’t know is how exactly the old certificates categories will map to these new certificates in the new travel package pricing system. The development of this announcement from Marriott makes it pretty clear that hotel certificates will not be reimbursed for points like some speculated.
Why the Month Delay Might Not Matter (Fingers Crossed)
If you already know what hotel you want to book with your hotel certificate and it’s a Marriott, attach that certificate before August 18. But those of you wanting to book an SPG hotel with your hotel certificate might read this very bad news, since many of the sought after SPG properties award nights’ could get booked up during the month-long hold on attaching hotel certificates. While you won’t be able to attach your hotel certificate until September 18, I think it’s likely you’ll be able to book your aspirational property just as soon as the new pricing system goes online around August 18 thanks to Marriott’s Points Advance system. A Marriott Member doesn’t need the full amount of points necessary in their account to book an award stay, they only need to have those points in their account (or assumedly, a travel package hotel certificate attached to the award reservation) within two weeks of their stay.
So as long as your stay is more than two weeks out from September 18, you shouldn’t miss out on your chance to book SPG hotels with travel package hotel certificates. I say should because we don’t know for sure if Marriott will keep this same Points Advance policy under the new unified program. I haven’t heard one way or the other if they will, but it is the status quo. **See update at the top of this post regarding information that was leaked over the weekend regarding the future of the Points Advance policy. It’s not looking good 🙁
The other issue at hand remains that we still don’t know (and probably won’t until mid September) at what hotels travel package hotel certificates purchased pre-August 18 will be redeemable (in other words, how the old certificates will map to new certificates). But there’s nothing stopping you from taking an educated guess and booking via Points Advance in speculation, as a means of holding the award space.
There are a few current package levels with prices that match up exactly to future travel package prices, so while it’s not yet guaranteed they’ll map this way, they probably will:
- Current Category 1 – 5 hotel certificates are good for hotels that cost up to 25k points a night, and future Category 1 – 4 hotel certificates will be good for hotels that cost up to 25k points a night under the new program
- Current Category 7 hotel certificates are good for hotels that cost up to 35k points and future Category 5 hotel certificates will be good at hotels up to 35k
- Current Ritz Tier 1 – 3 certificates are good for hotels that cost up 50k points per night, and future Category 6 will be good at hotels up to 50k points per night
Current travel package info can be found here. If you’re sitting on a stash of Marriott or SPG points and have been eying a current travel package, buy it before August 18 when they become a much worse deal.
Marriott has publicly stated that the seven night hotel certificate portion of travel packages purchased before August 18 will be converted into a new certificate, at good for redemption at comparably priced hotels. We don’t know yet how these old certificates will map to new certificates.
You will not be able to attach an old hotel certificate to any award reservation during the period of August 18 – September 17. By September 18, we should have more information about what hotels your certificates will be good for and you’ll be able to attach them to an award reservation. If you want to book an SPG hotel with your hotel certificate (which you can’t do now, but will be able to do post-merger), this could present a problem for you in the case that your desired hotel’s award space is in high demand. Fingers crossed that Marriott keeps their Points Advance system in place so that you can book an award reservation between mid August and mid September without points and then attach your hotel certificate September 18 or later (but not later than two weeks of your stay).
Hat tip Frequent Miler