Maybe, quoting from the New York Times
In spite of his proven reverence for the Marriott legacy, which we all respect, I find it fascinating that a polished world class CEO like Sorenson, would even consider "busting a hipster move" in Schrager's nightclub (in front of sharp tongued Schrager to boot). To me, this demonstrates the emotional seductiveness of the cool and current to Marriott executive officers even beyond the sound business sense of pursuing the huge market share potential of millennials and Gen Xers.
This emotional/cultural shift of Marriott executives is exactly why lately I've taken to humming Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi song - "you don't know what you've got till it's gone", as a reminder to me, that I'd better enjoy and be satisfied with Rewards as it is (as I've become), because additional cost reductions could easily be viewed as a low risk manner of additional financing for pursuing the "flash" Bill Marriott accurately states is necessary for capturing the millennial target audience. Whoa is me, like Bill, I'm the past.
And they put up a parking lot. As Joni said (not to me but she should have, "I wrote 'Big Yellow Taxi' on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart... this blight on paradise. That's when I sat down and wrote the song."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Yellow_Taxi#cite_note-Hilburn-1
Anadyr and Erc (re the sampling bias question),
A few reactions to your interesting posts:
1. From the point of view of a non-USA Marriott, I sense that there might be a danger in arguing that what isn't "Millenial-oriented" is necessarily "boring". There are aspects of the Marriott image and style which I find overly traditional - particularly the colour schemes and furniture styles of rooms, and the unimaginative bar formulae. By the same token, I've recently been in two German Marriotts (Berlin and Cologne) where most of the rooms and the Lounges have been significantly "modernised" - the predominant colour schemes are greys, coffees and creams, with imaginative use of materials and lighting - in a style which I personally found very attractive. But neither, I'm sure, were explicitly intended to attract the urban, affluent Millenial market: these refurbishments seek to be modern in the sense of being different and imaginative, but not loud, flashy and geerish.
2. The point in the NYT article referenced by Anadyr that particularly caught my eye was Marriott's planned 800-site expansion. And the question that came to mind was: "where are these going to be?" Of all the major chains I've used, Marriott has always seemed to me the most "American". Before I upset everyone, I should say that I'm not using that term in a pejorative sense. Marriott's success was very much born of its intimate links with mainstream US traditions and habits. Over 80% of its establishments - however owned and managed - are still in the US. When it was the "new kid on the block", the industry had reached a mature stage: now it is a mature company at a time when the industry is changing partly in response to changing demographics, but more importantly as a consequence of "globalisation". It is in this sense/context that Marriott might be argued to be "boring". If a significant majority of the new 800 are to be in Asia and Latin America (and to a lesser degree Europe and Africa), and Marriott does not endeavour to present a more imaginative and varied product in these new markets, then not only might it appear increasingly boring, but also it run the risk of compromising the very brand strength that is its greatest asset, and central to its longer-term development strategies.
When I travel to new locations either in US or overseas I look for predictability and consistency. That is service, cleanliness , value and comfort. I have chosen Marriott's because I feel that is what I will get vs. hotels that I don't know at all. With sites like travel advisor that takes a little of the mystery out of different brands or hotels but in the end I want predictability. So as Marriott evolves they need to understand that part of the attraction is not just points but consistency
Marriott has an interesting idea about how a hotel might/should look: Designers at the HQ toil over the way in which a brand should look, and new properties are then rolled out with the look. As for older ones, it is my understanding that there are levels or stages of modernization of soft goods and room looks, but the cost in a larger property can be astronomical, so the dates for upgrades are flexible.
Marriott is, like every other brand, trying to remain fresh, and relevant to the traveling public.I never think to myself that a room or public space looks good or fantastic, but whether it is so far outside my designer for hotel's weltanschauung metering system to be offensive.
I favor, as most OAPs do, the look of a traditional hotel, with Downton Abbey-like elegance, hushed tones, period furniture (and guests too), and staff waiting for my next request! "Carson, please come in, I have need for the automobile," I often say (to myself), and tell Bates I will be going to the hounds later."
I don't think predictability and consistency necessary mean the same look & feel and that this equates to 'boring'. I want to know that it is the same standard of service, the 'spirit to serve' is evident, and that the room (especially the beds) are of a standard. They don't have to look the same, or have the same colours, but it is important that it is consistent in terms of comfort.
Alot of the hotels (in Europe from my experience) have been very different, Marriott Dalmahoy, Marriott Breadsall Priory, Marriott County Hall,London; St.Ermins, London; St Pancreas, London; Moscow, and the Grand Flora in Rome, and these are interesting hotels with history, however, they do strive for the best service and to offer consistent Marriott standards.
I am concerned that the growth over the last couple of years and the inclusion of many more courtyards/Marriott's in Europe are NOT Marriott Standards. I think that the expectations and standards offered in some parts of Europe (I'm English so feel ok to comment ) are not up to par and I'm concerned that they aren't audited or checked thouroughly because a) they're far away from the US or b) they want the presence of Marriott's and this is outweighing 'passing' the test for consistency.
If I wasn't such a die hard loyal Marriott guest, my experiences in some European Marriott's would put me off being a Marriott guest
so, in summary, I wish that I could be confident in the consistency of their service and if this is boring, then go for it, as we pay our hard earnt money (or our company's limited money) for accommodation and you want to be confident prior to that arrival that your money is well spent and that your platinum status is recognised.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure this forum (as am I) is content with consistency, reliability, and dependability and doesn't find that boring. Unfortunately, it's a bit like desiring fiscal prudence in your home state, a perceived minority (or worse, insignificant) view.
It seems to me that Marriott is starting to think they are boring and unlike arkwright's cogent point about fine tuning the overly traditional, or barbaracollins' insight that predictability and consistency need not equal boring; Marriott, in a reasonable approach toward targeting the pig in the python market segment, is at times perhaps a bit too zealous in their attempt.
I see that in the releasing of SOPs to the individual properties, sliding toward a property by property service level; the CEO, certainly smart enough to know the minute you try to be hip, you're not, getting caught up in the excitement anyway, and perhaps.....wait for it, a possible skewing of their market research toward specific market segments by at times appearing to collect market data in an overweighted manner (there, I got it in, I can now, like misterchk, watch the NFL).
I'm easing on my macro view of Marriott and their policies and starting to focus on the micro, like your post about the Pleasanton Marriott or GemPrincess' post about Key Bridge buffet policy, etc etc.
Marriott has the most frequent business travelers of any hotel brand. However, if you talk to consultants in their 20s (like it or not, they are going to be making up a big portion of business travelers in the future), many of them have signed up with Starwood and are extremely loyal. Some say the benefits are better, but I personally think their properties (especially the W) feel more youthful and modern than US Marriott brand properties. And I think that once the hotel loyalty program has reeled you in, you are probably not likely to jump ship even if your preferences (like great service) changes as you get older.
I don't think it is an immediate issue or that they need to completely overhaul their brand, but it is something Marriott will have to address.
Looking at the concept images for the JW Marriott Austin and Washington DC Marriott Marquis as well as their room redesign project for the Travel Brilliantly campaign, I think Marriott is heading in the right direction.
Great points marriottmemberfromla, I don't think anyone is talking about less quality, less luxury, less consistency, or less value... but look at the differences between these two Marriott commercials for a little flash.
And look at how the Key Bridge Marriott has changed since the filming of this vintage commercial - Photo Gallery | Key Bridge Marriott Hotel Near Clarendon, VA
I'm completing a stay at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (my 3rd time there). It is kind of unique bird in how it changed loyalty program and ownership a lot and they have their own loyalty program Identity...but the rooms are incredibly nice...they consistently charge among the highest room rates in Vegas...many young people both come and stay here...yet their treatment of Marriott Rewards elite members feels more like an obligation than the genuine service you get at most Marriott brand hotels (Does this mean going more youthful will result in negative consequences in the future? Maybe? The W in Hollywood is loud and has reports of horrible service, but young people still flock there).
Still, The Cosmopolitan is a great hotel and upgrades are excellent if you can get them. The concierge on site also quickly responds to Platinum members' concerns.