Up to 1600 Free Marriott Points

Marriott is running some promotions for the holiday season. Starting today, if you make your way over to Marriott's promotion page, you can link Marriott to your social media accounts and grab points for doing so. 

Heading over to the Marriott promotion webpage, you'll see the current promotion is running through December 7th, 1 month from now.

As the promotion states, all you need to do is connect your accounts, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to Marriott in order to receive 1,500 free points. What the promotion does not say here is that if you follow Marriott Rewards on Facebook and Twitter through this signup, you'll get another 50 points per follow, for a grand total of 1,600 points.

I do tend to lock down my social media and avoid companies having access, so like me you may be weary to give Marriott access to these accounts. We've seen companies go a little too far with this access in the past and post on user's behalf, usually to the detriment of the company. Luckily, Marriott is almost immediately posting the points to your account, so I was able to see the points added within a few hours, some users even faster. This means you can then go disconnect Marriott from your social media accounts and lock them back out. 

1,600 points is a decent free offer, and they transfer to SPG points at a 3:1 ratio. These 1,600 points would land you a little more than 500 SPG points. Head over to the promotion page to grab your free points

Delta Partners with Airbnb

Delta has some pretty awesome partnerships. On the hotel side, if you are a elite member on Delta and at Starwood Hotels, you will earn Delta miles on Starwood Stays and Starwood points on Delta flights. Earning these rewards give you an awesome chance to sort of double dip, getting miles and points this way is an important perk to take advantage of where you can.

This week Delta announced another partnership, this time with Airbnb.

If you are unfamiliar with Airbnb, the idea is that regular people who may not be using a home, apartment or some other dwelling, can post it for a short time or permanently on Airbnb for people to stay in for short vacation periods. 

Airbnb representatives had the following to say:

“We are excited to partner with Delta and offer their travelers the opportunity to earn Delta miles when staying and hosting n Airbnb, while creating memorable moments with friends and family,” said Lex Bayer, Head of Business Development, Airbnb. “SkyMiles members can now enjoy the additional benefits of living like a local with authentic travel experiences on Airbnb in all global destinations that Delta services.”

So it appears that staying with Airbnb will now be able to earn you Delta Skymiles.

It looks like Airbnb bookings need to be made through the Delta Airbnb partner site, which will request your Delta Skymiles account before redirecting you to the booking site. 

There are a few additional perks running with this promotion that may be worth a try. First, if you have never created an Airbnb account, as a new guest you are given $25 off your first booking, 1000 bonus Skymiles on your first booking and the standard 1 Skymile per $1 spent at Airbnb.

Second, if you want to host through Airbnb and have never done so, this partnership allows you to get a bonus 25,000 Skymiles. These are some pretty awesome one time perks, but in my mind not really worth going out of my way for. If I try Airbnb, it'll certainly be something I take advantage of, but the earning rates are not good enough to make me switch away from Starwood Hotels.

I will say this though, if you stay at Airbnb already, this is great. Personally I tend to stay at Starwood hotels instead. Earning a few Delta Skymiles is certainly not a good reason to switch from Starwood to Airbnb. Starwood points are just too valuable. Also, keep in mind that if you take advantage of the existing Delta and Starwood partnership, you already earn 1 Skymile per dollar spent at Starwood hotels, on top of getting Starwood points as well and that's a far better way to earn miles/points.

Marriott Takeover And Empty Promises

Good or bad, we live in a world where big companies seem to be buying up all of their competition. US Airways becoming American Airlines was a huge loss for the US airline market. Competition dropped from 4 major air carriers to 3, and American Airlines gained status as the largest airline in the world. Marriott has just bought Starwood and the same exact thing has happened, Marriott is now the worlds largest hotel brand.

We all see the problems with reduced competition, it is abundantly clear. When Marriott first announced the planned takeover of Starwood hotels, those of us who have been a part of Starwood as a very loyal customer knew this would not end well for us. Despite these reservations, Marriott management attempted to sell us the story that they would make Marriott Rewards better. Interviews showed executive officers talking about how they knew that the SPG program was highly valued, much more so than their own program.

Did any of us actually believe that Marriott would change their lower value program to match the value of SPG? I know that my expectations were set quite low, and for good reason it seems. Marriott is now merged with Starwood and the most we've seen added to their program is some events like SPG Moments, something I have yet to take advantage of, and guaranteed late checkout. Despite these additions, we still see Marriott playing games with late checkout, and there's serious questions on if they'll actually honor it without charging customers. I've never had a single issue with late or early checkout/check-in at an SPG hotel.

This highlights the problems with mergers like this. Marriott is merely giving SPG customers lip service and promising things they never deliver or do deliver, just poorly. We've seen no hints of additional value being added to Marriott points, or partnering with airlines in the way that Starwood has. There in lies the biggest slap in the face too. One of the single most valuable parts of the SPG program is their partnership with airlines, and Marriott has one good partnership with United, outside of that it is pretty lackluster.

So here we stand as loyal customers to Starwood. Our loyalty thrown out the window to satisfy the need to grow bigger and bigger. We still have over a year for Marriott to add value, but I do not expect to see much from Marriott. They've played their hand, and I'm not impressed, which is why I will not remain loyal with them.

Looking Forward To Hyatt Diamond

The reality of the currently hotel climate is that Starwood is going away as they get absorbed by the Marriott behemoth. The days of the SPG program being the best loyalty program out there are certainly numbered. Exact time frames are a little up in the air at the moment, what we do know is that SPG is safe through the end of 2017. After that point, I have to look at the reality of what Marriott offers versus other companies.

The problem with Marriott is one that you'll find at any really large hotel chain, their loyalty levels are much harder to hit than smaller chains like Starwood and Hyatt. Despite them being much harder to achieve in the way of nights stayed, they don't offer much over their competitors with lower thresholds. Once Starwood goes the way of the dinosaurs, Hyatt is most likely where I'll go.

Hyatt like Starwood, is a smaller chain. They are harder to stay with, but easier to hit those high level elite thresholds if you do stay with them regularly. Marriott promises upgrades to suites and better rooms for high level elites, but this is completely arbitrary and dependent on the hotel you go to, you may go an entire year without a single upgrade if you choose the wrong hotels. Then there are the hotels in Marriott that don't allow certain perks like the free breakfast, or some other excuse to not give you what is promised by the company for your loyalty.

On the flip side, Hyatt has a system of suite upgrades in place for Diamond members, their highest status level. Hyatt gives 4 suite upgrades a year to Diamond members, that allows you to pay for a lower tier room, and bump yourself up to a suite. This is a great perk, and you get to choose where to apply it. If you're gone for a week to a hotel, that would be a great upgrade instead of a single night layover. This may not seem on paper to be as good as upgrades available at any Marriott at any time, but in real world situations, you may get more upgrades out of Hyatt than Marriott, since it is at the discretion of each hotel in the Marriott chain.

Hyatt is a smaller chain, I like the idea of a smaller chain that isn't a dime a dozen. The bigger chains just seem to value their customers less and that means I move on to where they treat customers better.