Marriott Bonvoy today announced changes to its top-tier Ambassador Elite status. On the plus side, benefits will improve. However, the requirement to earn it will also increase.
Marriott Ambassador needs $23,000 in spending by 2023
Let’s start with the bad news: Starting January 1, 2023, Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status requires earning 100 elite nights plus $23,000 in eligible expenses.
Ambassador Elite is Marriott’s only status tier with a spending requirement, and so far the status required $20,000 in spending, so that’s a 15% increase in the requirement.
As before, elite nights earned with Marriott’s co-branded credit cards will continue to count toward Ambassador Elite status. However, for most, the challenge is meeting the spending requirement, not the elite nighttime requirement.
To be clear, the 2022 requirement remains unchanged, so you can still earn Ambassador Elite status in 2022 with 100 elite nights plus $20,000 in eligible spend. You will then retain your status until February 2024.
Marriott Ambassador personalized service returns
Now on to the good news. Historically, the biggest benefit of Marriott Ambassador Elite status has been the personalized service: you had a dedicated point of contact who could assist you with reservations. Marriott has suspended this service during the pandemic, eliminating the major benefit of this status.
Fortunately, this is coming back – from mid-2023, Ambassador Elite members will once again be assigned personal ambassadors to facilitate travel planning. These are assigned based on the language and time zone that best suit a member’s preferences.
As Marriott describes it, personal ambassadors will work directly with members to assist in travel planning related to the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. Members can also voluntarily share additional information about what is important to them to further enhance the personalized service they receive.
Personal ambassadors can perform a variety of tasks, including booking or changing hotel stays and services, such as restaurant and spa reservations. They can also help facilitate other specific requests such as tickets for tours and activities, dining options, and ground transportation.
A good ambassador can also proactively reach out to hotels from time to time to make your stay special, even if you don’t have any specific requirements.
My take on these Marriott Ambassador changes
Personally, I don’t necessarily mind Marriott Bonvoy increasing the spending requirement by 15%. That is not entirely unreasonable and more or less in line with inflation. In many markets we have seen hotel costs increase by more than 15%.
While Marriott restoring personalized service to Ambassador Elite members is a step in the right direction, I still feel that the Ambassador Elite value proposition just isn’t there. Additional benefits over Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status include personalized service, plus Your24, which allows you to check in and out at your preferred time, at the discretion of the hotel (which is of limited value, as it is not guaranteed).
How I view it:
So having to not only earn 100 elite nights but spend $23,000 is a big ask from Marriott. The only additional perks are personal service (which can be super helpful or useless depending on who you get), plus Your24, which is of limited value. World of Hyatt Globalist members with 60 elite nights through Milestone Rewards also receive a personalized concierge with no spending requirement.
As before, I don’t think it’s worth earning Ambassador Elite. If you deserve it with your stay, fine. If you don’t, it’s not a big loss.
It boils down
Marriott Bonvoy is making changes to the Ambassador Elite program starting in 2023. The spending requirement for earning status is increased from $20,000 to $23,000. In mid-2023, Marriott will finally bring back customized service for Ambassador Elite members in the form of personal ambassadors.
It’s nice to see this personal service resume, although I don’t think the juice here is worth it, so to speak.
What do you think of these Marriott Ambassador Elite changes?