I booked my Family's Reunion in Mobile at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. We recently went in to the hotel to do a final walk through and discovered the hotel was under construction. NO ONE TOLD US ANYTHING. I never would have know until we actually went to the property. I told our Coordinator how upset we were about this and she basically said OH WELL. I became very upset and sent a letter to the GM and the Event Manager. They only offered me a 10% discount on the banquet orders but did not tell me that there was some secret 10% Service Fee Tax that I would be paying which took the 10% discount right back out. Is there anything I can do about this as we are paying top rate for this hotel and they are not really trying to accommodate us in any way. My cousin who also works for the local Chamber of Commerce said that they cancelled their event once they learned about the Construction from staff, but we were not given this courtesy. My event is coming up August 30th and I have people coming from all over the country to a literal disaster area the lobby area is all boarded up and the entire ambiance is horrible. Can anyone shed some light on this for me as I am SUPER FRUSTRATED 8 days away from my event. Also is anyone familiar with this 22% Service Charge and out Tax is 10% then they charge 10% on the Service Charge ???
Holey moley - I'd send a direct message to Michelle, Community Manager, etc, or heck just contact Marriott HQ & ask for Arne Sorenson's office & get them to intervene/help. Let us know how it works out & good luck. I just looked at the hotel property's website & there is zero mention of renovation - totally not cool.
When you decide to elevate this, decide what you want them to do/offer in addition to the 10% discount on the catering - extra Marriott points for you as the meeting planner, fruit baskets in the room, a discount on the room rate, apology, update of their website, lounge access for everyone, etc. It helps them to help you if you have a specific in mind.
22% service charge on catering is typical (covers things like tax+tips). It sounds like they're giving you a 10% discount on the pre-service charge catering bill, which should reduce a bit what the service charge will be.
You can send a direct message on Insiders to Michelle, merb, or the Community Manager. Arne is the CEO & Marriott's email nomenclature is first name dot last name at marriott dot com. Please read the additional info I added in my reply above, as it may help you when you contact any of them.
This is what is on the web site for the pricing grid (ski might have looked at flex pricing where it was not included)
With that as a cover for Marriott, you may run into the classic case of he said/she said (meaning Marriott says that they informed your Coordinator - which they probably did), so when you write, you may want to take a less than righteous indignation tone and instead say how disappointed you were that the property appeared as it did. Ski is dead on about her advice about knowing what you want to ask for. Start by making sure that you don't pay any more than the $99 rate that they are quoting for August 30th and then perhaps ask for one or more of the following; continental breakfasts, a welcome gift or an additional reduction on either your room rate or catered event or at the very least, some points (15-25k to give you and your family a nice stay somewhere) - but I would suggest doing it from the "oh me, this is not what I had in mind when I booked the Renaissance" rather than "you dirty dogs" (which, of course, you haven't).
They will probably work with you, since their rates indicate soft occupancy and you represent a worthwhile booking (plus, they have a decent reputation to uphold). I bet it can be worked out to your satisfaction. Good luck and most of all, regardless of the outcome, enjoy your family reunion.
Edited - if the coordinator was a Marriott associate (as opposed to a third party), then of course you have a much stronger case, and I would combine the "holy cow is this how Marriott does business?" with your overall message
I actually stumbled on the Renovation when I went back on that Monday to put money on our house account and I was shocked that I had just been there Saturday meeting with my coordinator and she said absolutely nothing to me or my other 4 committee members at that time.
They are not offering any discounts on rooms they offered us a 10% discount only to turn around and add this mysterious charge we knew nothing about Service Charge Tax right back in. It was as if they gave me 10% then added back in on the tail end. I'm so frustrated that no one felt the need to even tell us that the hotel was going to be under construction before hand so we could have had the opportunity to move our event also. They were very dishonest and they are really not trying to make it any better for my family.
We have been through 3 Three Marriott Coordinators two left and the Third I had to write a letter to request someone else assist us after what happened with the Renovations. Our current rate is $119.00 per night and we have 91 Rooms over the course of 3 Days. Our Catering Menu is at $7,000 plus.
Wow, holy moly doesn't even begin to describe it. I take it back, righteous indignation is a polite approach after those details, that's terrible customer service! Start writing immediately (include this link, if necessary to show how other Marriott customers feel about your treatment). Best wishes for an equitable outcome.
PS - look how they describe the property on their Fact Sheet (New Lobby !)
Also - if you pay $119 - make certain every one of your guests stays in the 567 sq. ft. Large Guest Room 1 King, Corner Room (vs. the $99, 367 sq.ft room). If they need a double, then they should receive the Mobile River view rooms (which are priced at $109). Just as an aside, AAA rates are $6 less per room and senior rate for the 367 sq. ft room is $84.
I just spoke with the Sales Manager and asked her to let me know what they were offering and she said the following "I Don't want to just throw out there what we offering because I don't know what you want" I told her "We don't even know what to expect as far as offers" Does anyone find this strange its as if she does not want me to know what my options are? I told her I have so many issues with how things were handled even down to the 10% discount which somehow ended back up on my charges. Just confused and exhausted with this :-(
Sad In Alabama
Ok, actually you're off to an excellent start about resolving the issues and salvaging your family reunion. That's good that they wanted to know what you wanted (that's why we all said for you to know what you want). You can't take anything personally, so give thought (talk to your cousin at the Chamber, he/she probably has a good amount of experience) to what would make your reunion more pleasureable for all involved. I can appreciate Marriott not wanting to negotiate against themselves, but they have made it clear to you that they feel your issue is legitimate (and of course it is - but don't focus on being right, focus on being satisfied), by asking you what you need to be happy. I have attached (sorry for the length) a recent Trip Advisor response to a dissatisfied customer as background info for you. Give thought to the financials of your stay - review the various rates we have discussed and lower your cost to a more equitable room rate (and if they balk on your number, take their less than current $119 number along with other amenities). You can do it - don't let anyone wear you out, you've got a terrific family reunion to attend. Good luck.
Here's a Trip Advisor response to an unimpressed Platinum who stayed there recently (just review it as background - they do want you to be satisfied, so give thought to what makes you satisfied);
Philip K, Rooms Division Manager at Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel, responded to this review
July 27, 2013
Thank you for selecting our hotel while visiting the Mobile area. Your feedback is important to us and we appreciate your ongoing commitment to the Marriott brand. The arrival process is important to us as we want to start off everyones stay on the right foot. It appears we fell short here (along with other areas) and for that I am sorry. Please know that your comments will be shared with the appropriate people so we can evaluate your feedback and take the necessary actions to improve. We do hope you will stay with us again should your travels bring you back to our area.
1) They want to start off on the right foot, yet they have mishandled your booking from the beginning with their lack of communication, you are giving them a chance to remedy that bad start.
2) He is going to share the comments so they can "take the necessary actions to improve". You are providing that feedback before you experience additional poor service. If he is sincere about his customer service response, then he should engage in a productive dialogue with you now - not after an avoidable disaster.
3) I'm sure he's sincere when he discusses the desire for repeat business - well, then show it Philip K (he's already lost your cousin's business, perhaps forever); price the Labor Day function more in line with the occupancy (compare rates the remainder of September, plus in properties that are high occupancy, senior discounts aren't as large) and the undisclosed (when deal was struck) renovation.
We all suggested to you yesterday that you should know what you wanted from the property - and gave you suggestions, such as matching the $99 room rate on the website, additional points for you, cont'l breakfast if it's not included, larger rooms if they hold to the price point, a suite upgrade for you as the meeting planner, a 15% discount vs. 10% discount on the catering, etc. All of those are viable options. You will not get all of them, so you need to figure out which is most important.
The property obviously wants to make it right by you now, but without input from you they're working in a bit of a vacuum.
Re: the tax & 10% discount. Let's say (just an example) you're doing a dinner for 91 people. You pick the steak, which is $50, so $4,550 for 91 people. The service charge is 22% or $1,540 so you're up to $5,990. Let's say the city or state has an additional tax of 10% on catering/service charge (yes, some cities do the tax on the tip/service charge - has nothing to do w/ the property), so that's $599 for a grand total of $6,589. They offer you a 10% discount on the steak, so that's $4,095 for 91 people. The 22% service charge is now $900, so you're up to $4,995. Additional 10% tax of $500, so your new grand total is now $5,495. So before the 10% catering discount in my example you were paying $6,589 all in. Now you're paying $5,495 all in. Hope that clarifies how catering works.
The property handled things poorly to date, but obviously they want to make it up to you. 10% discount on catering is part of that. Pick the other item you want from a list & go with that based on what's important. I'd certainly have them match the $99 room rate given anyone can book it off the website. Whether you ask for anything more such as cont'l brekkie, fruit baskets in all the rooms, extra points for you, is up to you.
They're not going to be able to finish the renovations before your stay, so you can be frustrated that they didn't tell you. But acknowledge having the renovation done by the time you all arrive isn't likely to happen, so you need to let that part go. The other thing you need to do is prepare all 91 people - let them know that there is renovation - and how you convey that to your relatives will set the stage for the weekend. You can do it in the 'OMG - I can't believe they're doing this to us' mode or you can say 'hey, guess what, there's going to be a wee bit of construction while we're there (not actual banging probably but not quite as attractive as normal), hey it will be an adventure & something to talk about at the next reunion' mode.
Take a deep breath. You still have some time & luckily you did find out in advance.
That really helped but what about the additional 10% Service Charge Tax they added to my total. My break down is as follows: 22% Service Charge then 10% F&B Tax then 10% Service Charge Tax? The Service Charge Tax we did not know about until we received the event checks. Never heard of it!
Different states have different taxes. Some will tax on F&B, some on service charge, some on both. So it looks like (this is just a guess) the 22% is for the wait staff, 10% F&B tax & 10% service charge tax. The original contract should have outlined everything. I'd be surprised if the 10% service charge just 'appeared'. Grab your contract & have the sales manager walk you through it line item.
Note that if the taxes are indeed true taxes, that is something the hotel cannot pull off the bill as that would get them in trouble w/ the city/state.
In looking at their website & without looking at specific pricing for meals, etc, it does say this, so the breakout you provided corresponds to what's on their website: 22% service charge, 10% tax on the service charge, 10% sales tax on the food & beverage.
Service Charge / Tax
All food and beverage will be subject to a 22% taxable service charge and a State sales tax of 10%. Service fees and sales tax are subject to change.
Actually it does. Food & beverage & related services (which are 10%) & service charge (which is 22%). The taxes aren't going away; there's nothing the hotel can do about it. That's a discussion for the state legislature.
So figure out what you want from the sales manager - is it a slightly larger discount on the catering (12% vs 10%), discounted room rate of $99 vs $119, etc, and focus on that.
I'm guessing you don't plan many events as it's the norm to have ++ on catering contracts, with ++ being the service charge & taxes. The ++ is usually outlined in the menus & the contracts, so it's not a surprise.
It's also irrelevant to the renovation issue. They've offered you a 10% discount on catering as one way to make up for the reno disappointment. You can try to get that increased a bit, or you can ask for something else such as discounted room rates, etc. They cannot eliminate taxes.
Thanks so much skiadcock for your assistance. They have taken care of my concerns and have offered some wonderful concessions that other 10% is now gone too!
Ok, once more with feeling, don't A) take it personally and B) let it wear you down. We all agree with you, but that's no longer relevant, don't worry too much about percentages play the game net (meaning total cost).
Your catering appears to be $3,200.
22% (which is close to what you tip at restaurants - so it's close to fair value) of $3,200 is $704
10% (like Ski says this is law - so you're not getting hammered here either) of $3,200 is $320
10% (tax on their income from the service charge - again, non-negotiable) of $704 is $70.4
Your 10% reduction off of the bill not only saves you $320 from event, but around $112 on service/tax reduction.
Now if you save as little as $10 a room (still above their posted rate), that's in excess of $900 (plus your tax savings), so you can see, a room rate reduction is where the most impact lies - so don't let the percentages take your eye off the ball of getting your best economic deal.
Here's a sample offer: $100 per room (with at least half of the rooms being corners and river views, allocated as you deem fit, since you're doing all the legwork and having all the angst), 5 welcome baskets (given to your most senior family members), free parking (they may not be able to give this if it is subcontracted - so allow them to kill it and ask for one free morning continental breakfast for each registered guest). Talk to your cousin and mix and match - but again, A) play the game net/net B) don't get worn down or emotional - do express your disappointment, reminding them that their web site still boasts about their 'new lobby' C) do give all of your guests a heads up about the renovations, but inform them of the efforts you made to secure a strong economical value and D) most of all, enjoy your family, five years from now you want to remember your aunts and uncles and grandparents, not the lobby (except as a great family story). Go man, go, you can do it. Good luck
I never thought about the discounts on rooms and the complimentary breakfast. I never heard of gift baskets we do have several family members who are 82 to 94 years of age. They would love it! They say the parking garage is not owned by them and they only get a limited number of passes per month. I am going to discuss the room suggestions because that would be great if we can get those as well!
I'm glad that the property stepped up to the plate & did the right thing by you. If all goes well (and I'm assuming it will), I hope you write a letter to the sales mgr & GM & let them know you appreciate them dealing with a difficult situation & making it better. Enjoy your family reunion.