How I Earned 30K Hotel Points with Almost No Effort - picture of bell at hotel desk

How I Earned 30K Hotel Points with Almost No Effort

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I’m in Jamaica and either sleeping or mildly intoxicated at the moment. (Maybe both) Please enjoy this post from my friend Mark at BareBudgetGuy.com.

I recently experienced the second-worst sleep of my life, unfortunately at my favorite hotel chain. I was, however, able to obtain reasonable compensation by using less than 500 written words. Let me explain.

How And Why It All Went Down

First of all, I want to start by saying that I love Marriott hotels. It was my hotel chain of choice when I used to travel frequently for work. We love staying there as a family on road trips, always with points I have on hand. You can’t beat a free place to stay with comfortable accommodations, a pool, and free breakfast when you’re hauling around 3 little ones. (I’m sorry if you were that person in line behind us while we were making 5 waffles.)

Just a few weeks ago, I visited my alma matter for a company-sponsored event designed to recruit the best and brightest young finance minds to a new life of corporate stardom…or something like that.

I enjoy getting out of the office for recruiting activities. I like meeting new people, wandering around my old Indiana stomping grounds, and being that guy whose jokes everyone laughs at (because they have to). After being all buttered up by my new friends, I whistled my way back to the hotel to do a little bit of work before calling it a night. However, I somehow got placed in a room directly next to the social gathering for undergrads that night.

I am a very easygoing person and am still young enough to give obnoxious college students a pass, but I need my sleep. Even when I was in college, my roommates knew not to wake me or it would be the one time they could see me get angry.

How I Earned 30K Hotel Points for Complaining

Suffice it to say, I had a rough night. And I could have just left it at that. But my mother taught me better than that. It is always worth asking the question when it comes to seeking compensation for a bad experience.

I have included my email correspondence below so you can see the approach I took. I don’t claim that it’s the best approach, but it worked for me. I changed some names, places, and dates for privacy. I’ve also added my commentary in italics.

Round 1: My Email to Marriott

Hello,

I have been a loyal Marriott customer for years and have been pleased with the service that I usually receive. I understand that it can’t be easy to consistently provide a great experience to all of your guests. I did, however, finally have the occasion of a less than hoped for experience at my last stay.

I stayed one night at the [hotel] for business. There was a very loud group in the room next to me. People were coming and going all throughout the night, from about 10pm until 5am. The door was constantly slamming, music blaring, and people shouting in and out of the room. I called the front desk to see if anything could be done, and [Bob] said he would talk to them. I called again around 3am, but the noise continued. Suffice it to say I did not sleep much.

I don’t know how that sort of thing should be handled, and I didn’t like the thought of putting [Bob] at the front desk in the position to have to confront the loud group, but I was disappointed nothing was done to prevent the loud conduct and strangers coming and going all night. I’ve always had a great experience with Marriott, but this was my worst night ever at any hotel. It didn’t help my mood when a bill was slid under my door for almost $300.

If there is any kind of compensation you are able to offer as a gesture of good will, it would go a long way and help to retain a good customer and proponent of the brand.

Thanks,

Mark

Round 1: Response from Marriott

Good morning Mark,

Thank you very much for reaching out regarding your stay. I can certainly understand the frustration in having to deal with persisting noise from other guests during your stay. I am terribly sorry we were not able to resolve this matter in a satisfactory manner during your time here. However, I will review with my staff some effective methods to handle issues such as this in the future. I hope you will provide us the opportunity to regain your trust in the future. As a sign good faith I would like to offer you 1,000 Marriott Reward points toward your next stay at any Marriott property.

Whoa! Stop right there. Did you just offer me 1,000 points? As in 13% of the amount of points it would cost me for 1 free night at the cheapest Marriott hotel!? (Category 1 costs 7,500 points, and a category 8 costs 45,000 points.)

Also, I have discounted your last stay with by $50.00.

That’s a little better. But he still might as well just have punched me in the face.

Please feel free to contact me if there is anything else I can assist you with in the future or if you would like to discuss this matter further.

IF there is anything else? I wonder if he honestly thought I would back down at this point.

Have a wonderful week!

Best,

[Hotel Guy],

Front Office Manager

Round 2: My Email to Marriott

[Dear Hotel Guy],

Thanks for your prompt response. I appreciate the gesture of the rewards points. The hotel is a category 6, and I was hoping for a category 6 experience. I think the least you ought to offer is the category 6 points for one night of 30,000.

Thanks,

Mark

Round 2: Response from Marriott

Good afternoon Mark,

Thank you for your follow up. I believe you to be correct in your expectation of a quality experience during your stay at a property such as ours and due to the conditions surrounding your time with us, I do agree that further compensation may be appropriate.

Okay NOW you agree. We’re getting somewhere.

Therefore, I will be posting an additional 10,000 points to your Marriott Rewards account. Although I do appreciate your request of 30,000 additional points, I must maintain that this compensation, paired with the original points and discount, is considerable. Please do take this into account.

You appreciate the request. That’s fantastic. I’m making progress, but it’s still not good enough, as I explain in my next email.

I would be happy to discuss this matter further if you are so inclined. I am also happy to assist in anyway I can with any future reservations here or elsewhere. Thank you again for your time and have a wonderful week!

Best,

[Hotel Guy],

Front Office Manager

Round 3: My Email to Marriott

[Dear Hotel Guy],

Thanks for you for being willing to discuss. My night was paid for through my company, so I’d be fine with you not crediting the $50 and instead adding the 30,000 points.

I thought I should be honest and make clear that I was after points rather than dollars, which I believe is a win-win. They’d rather give points, and I’d rather get points. Give me money and I’m liable to stick those suckers in a savings account, never to be enjoyed.

Just because I didn’t pay, however, does not mean that I didn’t miss out on anything.

I not only lost out on nearly all of my sleep but also on performing well the next day during my business activities. I might expect having a sleepless night at a low-end motel, but I would never expect that from a category 6 Marriott. I’d think that 30,000 points would be the minimum Marriott would offer for allowing someone at a hotel of that level to have one of the roughest nights of his life.

You have the opportunity to preserve a lot of goodwill here, and I hope you do.

Thanks,

Mark

I think these were my most important two paragraphs because they were focused on what I lost, what they could lose, and what we both could gain.

Round 3: Response from Marriott

Good afternoon Mark,

That would be absolutely doable. I will go ahead and take care of that for you. Thank you so much for your courtesy in working with me on this issue. Have a wonderful week!

[Hotel Guy],

Front Office Manager

Booya. Either my skills of persuasion are that good, or this guy just wanted to get rid of me. Either way, I got what I wanted.

The Lesson

ALWAYS ask. Be persistent. And be courteous!

Now I have 3-4 extra nights worth of fun family hotel nights and free breakfasts to look forward to. Just make sure you beat us to the waffle maker.

What success stories do you have from asking and being persistent? For personalized travel advice, visit my “Free Rewards Advice” page!

Additional reading:

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17 Comments

  1. Great job! I have taken the courteous and persistent route myself and have been pleased with many of the outcomes. It definitely helps if you’re a frequent customer, as they are less inclined to help out the guy that stays at their hotel once in a blue moon.

    1. Definitely! Sometimes I just don’t feel like calling, and I’ve found even sending an email can make things happen.

  2. An awesome win-win discussion. This illustrates that a negotiation is as much a conversation as anything. The negotiation changed as soon as it was clear that both parties wanted to exchange in points only. You don’t get that realization at first: it takes two parties trying to figure out each others’ interests in the deal.

    1. Yes, if you don’t give up at the first “no”, a more optimal solution will often become more clear.

  3. Nicely done! I wish I’d had this as a template for my complaint to a hotel at Heathrow Airport [premium hotel chain that starts with H] 10+ years ago. The end result was that I’ve never stayed in one again.

    1. So true, businesses often forget how much goodwill they can preserve by providing some compensation here and there. And now I tell them directly that they have that opportunity to build it or destroy it.

  4. Great stuff on having multiple emails back and forth with Marriott. I will definitely keep this in mind next time if I encounter something similar.

    1. The thing about emails is you don’t even have to try to look or appear friendly. You just have to make it come across in your writing. It is a beautiful thing.

  5. LeRainDrop says:

    Wow! Very well handled, Mark! I like that you remained courteous while advocating for yourself in this situation. I imagine the final result actually strengthened your loyalty to Marriott.

    1. Thanks! Getting cranky might make us feel better for a minute, but it really won’t get us anywhere.

  6. This really is a lesson in itself. I think many of us – myself included most likely – would just have accepted the first offer made. Having the confidence to “negotiate” turned out much better. I will have to remember this in the future!

    1. You can’t win them all, but I’ve found that following up after the first “no” can have surprising results.

  7. Well done, Mark! I’m a firm believer in expecting great service from the companies I do business with, but it sure helps when handling a problem if the customer follows the rules you’ve set above. Persistent and courteous. It works almost every time.

  8. Very impressive. Before starting reading the blog, I wonder how you could earn 30K hotel points. That’s it. Now I found why. Good job! Congrats Mark! Being inquisitive pays off!

  9. I have never been that persistent, I will definitely keep it in mind next time. Though we are usually the loud guests with our two boys under 3 years old…

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