I bumped into some older threads this morning, that reconfirmed my thoughts as it relates to Insiders' and its potential influence - don't be turned away by the vastness of the stuff below, it really won't take as long as it might appear. I'd be interested in your reaction as to the purpose of Insiders. Thanks
http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/message/25398#25398 Intent of Insiders. In spite of 2012 date, you can see from the replies that this is an issue from 2010 (and sooner). Tip of the cap to those Insiders who are still with us that helped formed the backbone of the forum and worked hard and repeatedly to make it an effective communication channel, which makes it more of a shame how the past year flooding of posts with contests and reviews diluted participation. pingreeman's Open Letter in the More Like This column is worth a look as well.
http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/message/6126#6126 Marriott all a twitter. 2011. anadyr Two observations for me from this thread;
1) Insiders, as it relates to Marriott, is a forum used to air issues not necessarily resolve them and 2) Insiders was to be a closed gated loop (tjcnetwork) invisible to search engines. Not knowing my tech lingo, what I have observed of late is that it sure doesn't feel like a closed forum, what with all of the television shows being promoted 10-15 posts at a time and now we have Guests supplying reviews (the most I've seen at one time is 8 out of the 10 on the review board, but no doubt 10 out of 10 is coming). Marriott's Twitter page for the interested https://twitter.com/Marriott and of course Facebook is just as broad, reminding me again, Insiders may just not be all that significant to Marriott (to me, yes).
Marriott all a twitter led me to tryt53's
http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/message/36005#36005 Article on Social Media w/Reference to Marriott discussing the responsiveness of twitter. I feel likewise about Facebook, Marriott is very quick to respond, even if it is a "thank you for your input". Insiders has improved drastically on response time, many times providing definitive policy answers. IMO, this, along with the sharing of travel strategies is the most valuable aspect of the forum, far more than desiring/anticipating policy change. tryt's inserted article was subtitled; The Mantra Seems to Be:Let No Tweet Go Unanswered http://www.insideflyer.com/articles/article.php?key=6911 (you can get by with a quick skim)
Digging deeper than the normal human needs to, I saw a brief listing of Marriott's Twitter Strategy (it's a quick summary, you can look)http://contently.com/strategist/2012/06/13/marriotts-five-star-twitter-strategy/ and another quick, easy glance of an overview http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/technology/1201/gallery.best-companies-social-media.fortune/ Marriott - A Social Media Star (they even have a My Marriott Hotel, a social game (along w/the infamous Renaissance Open Doors and that other mobile game).
Bottom line summary - after a 15 minute breeze through all of the above (really it went much quicker than my ability to assemble it) and then realizing that almost each Brand has it's own branch of social media - Facebook, Twitter, etc etc and then even individual properties venture into the field, I am convinced more than ever, trying to influence Marriott policy through Insiders is a low return strategy (with the exception of nuhusker's Surprise Party for Veterans). To each their own, but after seeing more and more cases of property by property implementation of policy (and having personal success dealing at the property level), coupled with observing the multi-year running struggle of Insider participation unsuccessfully attempting to nudge a full steam ahead Marriott, I'm focusing more on learning from Insiders about Social Media and sharing travel techniques and worrying less and less about my inevitable Rewards benefits erosion. Once I learn how to Tweet, I'll be like Jack Nicholson as the Joker, "wait'll they (hotels) get a load of me"!.
I agree with your assessment, but would suggest that a substantial proportion of the frustration, disappointment or whatever Insiders feel about this site is self-inflicted - a function of misplaced expectations from Day 1. Whatever Marriott's motives for funding the establishment and maintenance of this site, they were not altruistic.
Whatever gloss Marriott might apply, the site has served two main functions: 1) a low-cost contribution to its wider market research , and 2) particularly in the days when hotel management was much more centralised that it is now, a way of allowing customers to air complaints/let off steam about grievances, a significant proportion of which would otherwise have been directed to Customer Services. Insiders were, in short, serving as a proxy for that "customer services" process.
Thanks for the, as always, thoughtful reply. I agree about the forum's value to Marriott and always viewed it as a mutually beneficial instrument (I for one, have increased my Marriott stays because of Insider write ups about properties, cities, activities, and restaurants). What was an eye opener for me reading through the posts was, although I certainly had an intuitive feel for the sophisticated social media arm of a global corp like Marriott, seeing it all laid out impressed upon me that perhaps Insiders wasn't so "Inside" as I had allowed myself to think. The real value of the forum as I see it, is the sharing of travel experiences and ideas. My concern is that participants by 'self inflicting' the mindset that we really have a say on policy, get frustrated/disgusted and leave, thus costing us their ongoing insights.
When Insiders is accurately viewed as one of a score of communication venues, it provides a more realistic approach for the participant and we can remain focused on enhancing travel through sharing, taking the requests instead to the local level (often with Insider input), which not only is the way Sorenson has directed it to be operationally, but also probably the most productive use of our energy. Now, if I can just get this hashtag stuff down.
I'm sure it is often appropriate to place these discussions about Marriott in the wider context of travel. There are, without doubt, many Insiders past and present for whom this site was/is a source of information on which to base pragmatic judgements - about price, qualitiy, service, facilities and the like. And this is both immediate and useful.
But for what it is worth, another quotation - I apologise for missing an earlier post - comes to mind that expresses a slightly different understanding of travel, and the role of hotels within it:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
I'd like to think that Mark Twain's insight catches the essence of travel in a global world.
Have a good week-end.
You are indeed the historian and conscience of the group ERC, and for that we humble members thank you. Unlike some of that class (who came up short when it as discovered they had "forgotten" to cite a source that they cribbed in great part from), your work is original and totally enjoyable to read. We admire (mrs and I) your ability to wade through the dustbins of MRI and find the good stuff that makes the community hum!
Congratulations on doing this, I hereby make you Insider of March 1st, for the whole day!!
PS: wish I had done this but I am too lazy.
Thanks for a thought provoking post. I have been on Insiders since 2011, but have just recently began participating again. To your question about what I see as the role of Insiders - I see Insiders as a valuable tool for two things: travel ideas and clarification of /understanding of Marriott policies.
I think your "bottom line summary" is dead on. Trying to influence Marriott policy through Insiders is difficulty, but I do not think that it is impossible. However, I think the other social media platforms you reference are more likely to influence policy. Almost all companies now have a social media presence and I have seen cases where customer service type issues are handled via Twitter. To me the difference is that Twitter is a widely used (645 million users), widely public platform, and what people post has the potential to affect perceptions of a given company.
However, Insiders as you mention was designed as a "closed gated loop" and therefore what is posted here is likely only seen by those who already have some semblance of loyalty to Marriott (via being Marriott Reward members to log-in). Therefore, I do not think Marriott pays as close attention to Insiders as they do to Twitter or Facebook.
Regardless, I appreciate having Insiders and getting some of the best travel ideas around from fellow MRI.
Just my two cents.
Believe you might be one of the first to post to "Insiders" in March - for that you might be entitled to at least a few "atta aboys", "congrats", especially for your self analysis and valuable contribution to the "Insiders" web post.
As a relatively new comer to the site, I can say that I appreciate all the "commradery" (Lit., one who lodges in the same room), and somewhat "fraternal" relationship of "Insiders". Guess we all appreciate "belonging", or feeling needed. However, even though I might be older (71) than many others in the group, I do appreciate learning from you guys who travel even more than I do (have). I believe the positive outweigh the negative comments, especially regarding the "mother ship" (Marriott).
I was reluctant to participate in Facebook - have never joined Twitter - but in past couple of years have also enjoyed this forum, especially among "friends", as I don't open myself much to public distribution of photos and thoughts. I also participate in "Flickr" , the Yahoo site that provides free photo sharing (up to 500,000), and an opportunity to learn from other photographers all the while receiving a fee compliments from my own work. Just scrolling through the various artists provides a phenomenal landscape of photographic insight. I'll have to admit that when one of these professional photographers "faves" one of my photos, it gives me a thrill! - http://www.flickr.com
I think "Insiders" is somewhat like this; don't you wait with some degree of anticipation to what someone within the Marriott "fraternity" might say about your photos you post, your trip experience, or even solicit your help with travel plans?
You've heard it said, "we live in a global community", and these social media programs are but another way to help us - especially in our growing, non-personal society - to be "connected", all the while learning from others, benefitting from one another, and often the privilege of helping one another - "It's better to give than receive."
My early March philosophical comments, for what it's worth.
Looking at the depth and thoughtfulness of just these initial responses, it highlights the ongoing value and enormous potential for this forum. Fred nails it when he discusses the anticipation of others insights and viewpoints and all four of you are dead on when you highlight the power of numbers to affect perceptions of a company, so certainly we must respect Marriott's need to manage the masses, but perhaps with an idealistic view, I want to think Marriott could also see value in crafting an ever stronger relationship with the type of in-depth participation that comes from the forum vs. the often superficial (albeit, granted, potentially momentum shifting) criticism/observation from the one time user. But as I said, I certainly respect the numbers (and the current impact of crowdsourcing) and in the interim, will enjoy the quality of Insiders contributions.
To each and everyone of you, very well said and I echo the sharing of travel techniques, experiences and more is what keeps me coming back. Sure I love to gripe and complain about policy and reward points like the rest of us, but it is sort of like being a government employee......good luck in making those at the top listen and the top may have been just one level above your pay grade.
Anyway, I appreciate the time and efforts of those who post even the countless ours of research done by "The Kings and Queens of Data"!!!