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I’m one of those travelers who is open to booking hotel stays with OTAs on occasion. I usually prefer not to but sometimes it just makes sense given my point balances, award pricing, availability, and my schedule. And sometimes I just like to test things out.
Marriott Elite Benefits for OTA Bookings?
For the longest time Marriott was one of the best hotels to stay at when booking through an OTA. That is because they always honored my elite benefits even when the stay was booked through an OTA. But after the recent merger with SPG, Marriott quietly removed membership tier benefits from online travel agency bookings.
This was a major bummer to me but I still wanted to go ahead and give it a test to see what would happen if I booked a stay at a Marriott property. So I went ahead and used Ultimate Rewards to make a booking through the Chase Travel Portal (basically Expedia) at the St. Regis Houston — one of the top luxury hotels in the city.
I redeemed 28,238 Ultimate Rewards for a Deluxe room that would’ve cost $423.57/night. After I made a booking, I called into the hotel to add my Marriott Bonvoy number. I am currently a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium elite member although I definitely am not sure how I’ve maintained that status (but that’s another story).
Anyway, whenever I got to the hotel I once again confirmed that my elite information was attached to my reservation. For some reason, it had not been added so I had to re-add my information. And after they verified my elite status they went ahead and found me and upgraded me to a Junior suite ($600/night) and then confirmed that I would receive other benefits like free breakfast and 4pm late check out.
So just like that I had received Marriott elite benefits even though I’d booked through an OTA.
This just just further confirms to me that this type of determination is hotel specific, regardless of what the terms and conditions might state. And while there is no guarantee that you will receive your elite benefits when booking through an OTA I bet that the odds are higher than most people think they are (assuming you actively add your elite number and ask about them while working a little bit of charm).
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.