The NathalieF, perhaps either on her own initiative (Marriott asked Facebook participants on September 2nd, The "Insiders" were asked September 5th) or at the request of Marriott (either way, I'm glad we were included) posted a thread asking
and has received some worthwhile input (of course a lot of this 'market research' has been willingly provided for the past several years in this forum, Marriott need only read). A majority of the insightful input provided by Insiders (who once more took the time to share) centers around Marriott sincerely providing at least the perception that they actually care about guest loyalty, by demonstrating follow up and in a mutually beneficial, best case scenario, providing actual implementation of at least some of the suggestions (after all, Marriott was the one doing the asking).
Along those lines, below is what I believe is an excellent example; Insiders have been discussing the missed potential of both the Marriott.com web site and this Insiders forum for years. Rather than rehash the myriad of tech examples, I'll pick one that glaringly stood out to me this weekend. Insiders are encouraged to post blogs and share. Several of us (jakeal being one, we miss you jakeal and hope all is well) noticed long ago that blogs do not reset on the "Big Board" of posts when someone replies. This leads to a 'flash across the sky' impact on the blog (meaning the blog only has worthwhile visibility while it is one of the ten most recent threads, which may be less than two hours) which means diminished viewership and participation. I am not a blogger, so I'm not speaking for myself, but many Insiders expend significant energy and effort posting superb and informative blogs only to be seen by a small readership and forever lost.
This weekend alone, I observed three blogs (see below) by IAHFLYR, bejacob, and kharada46 which all had less than 60 viewers (and easily, five of those views were me stumbling around trying to arrange these links ). Combined, the three of them received less views (but active participation among the viewers) than the 200+ views of whether we take off our shoes and if our feet stink or not (and I'm not knocking that post, I welcome all participation, as a matter of fact I'm looking forward to seeing the posting and responses of a Mile High Club question ).
Bottom line - if Marriott is truly sincere about raising Guest Loyalty, start with the slam dunks that have been requested for months, if not years. For purposes of impacting guest loyalty, adding bells and whistles (like the gamification concept) is fine, if it doesn't appear to come at the expense of those slam dunks. And if you decide to "go your own way", that's fine also, it's your ball - but just don't ask us for input, it becomes condescendingly counter productive.
Here's the well crafted blogs I mentioned (it's pretty easy to guess the authors from the title - drifter, Hawaii, da plane, da plane )
These outlays of effort deserve more visibility than blogs provide - as a marketing guy, I believe you should just post as a discussion, until Marriott changes the format
Thanks for bring that up again, erc. I always wondered why comments on blog entries didn't bring the blog back to the top of the list like other discussions. Often it seems like blogs only get noticed when you bring them to people's attention or when painedplatinum updates the thread on blogs (The specified item was not found.)
We bloggers will keep posting with the hope that Insiders will keep reading. I missed the entry by IAHFLYR, so thanks for bringing that to my attention.
As you like to say to us, I say right back to you. Keep on keepin' on.
erc I wonder if you are waving pom poms while you are cheering us on. You do such a good job. This site has been dwindling for a while. I think it started with the baseball, the hotel reviews followed and still has not been fixed and the site itself has become less user friendly. Many of us have offered fixes, like me, and complaints but appear to be to a deaf ear. It wasn't that long ago when this site was really active. I don't sign in as often as I used to because it is such a pain. It should be easy.
I have posted some discussions that get buried and get few if any comments. After a while, why bother.
Thanks for the compliment. Yes indeed, I had you and your many thoughtful web site suggestions in mind when I wrote about Marriott overlooking straightforward (low/no cost) improvements. I share your frustrations over the significant potential Insider forum value Marriott allows to just 'lay on the table'. As Marriott continues to set well deserved and impressive financial records, when it comes to loyalty and customer service, "good enough, seems to be good enough". As a long term shareholder who has seen significant growth over my cost basis (and I even sold some at $40 at a nice profit thinking it might have peaked) I'm very pleased at Marriott's financial performance (it helps defer the increase rates that lead to that performance), but I sometimes wonder if Marriott is mortgaging their future performance during the next downturn by executing the Grasshopper and the Ant fable today.
Let's take a look at today's press release on Marriott's momentum though to see what we're up against;
Highlights that jumped out at me (see, I not only cheer, but summarize for the Insider team as well )
(my thoughts follow in Bold)
This is a great time to be in the hotel business,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International president and chief executive officer. “Around the world, this is a golden age of travel. In 2012, international trips topped a record one billion, and we would like to see that double over the next 10 years. Economic growth and rising middle classes are driving this travel, and we now have more hotels open or in development outside the U.S. than at any time in our company’s history. In North America, we believe we are only midway through an elongated lodging cycle, with considerable upside to come.” Certainly, make hay while the sun shines, but shouldn't something in the form of long term customer loyalty be put aside for 'rainy days'?
Marriott will say it is focused on aggressive growth in new markets and new brands. In recent years, Marriott has introduced or acquired six brands, Gaylord, Moxy, EDITION, Protea, AC Hotels by Marriott and Autograph Collection, each positioned to capture a new customer or provide a new stay experience for our already loyal customers. Marriott is superb in developing and operating new brands, but are they overstating their "already loyal customers"?
The company’s luxury and lifestyle portfolio is in position to capture the loyalties of Generations X and Y, which are expected to account for 90 percent of the working age population within a decade. These exciting brands include The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Renaissance, EDITION, AC Hotels by Marriott, Moxy and Autograph Collection. No one can fault Marriott for going where the 'pig in the python' is; but do they risk alienating current core customers of the very same Ritz, JW, Renaissance and Autographs?
Marriott.com, one of the company’s most important connections to its customers, receives 35 million visits per month and booked a quarter of Marriott’s room nights in 2013, generating nearly $10 billion in gross room bookings. The Marriott.com mobile app generated $1.3 billion of those bookings in 2013. Is this a case of good enough being good enough? As valuable as Marriott.com is, it's surprising it isn't strategically important enough to be superb. The ol' "if we're so good, why aren't we better?"
Another driver of growth is Marriott Rewards, ranked the most popular loyalty program in the industry by U.S. News & World Report. Its 47 million members account for 50 percent of all paid and stayed room nights. We all saw how Marriott not only took U.S. News but also virtually swept the Freddies, so cold heartedly we must admit to ourselves that Marriott does have the most popular loyalty program, but then Democrats are currently more 'popular' than Republicans.
Oh well, Marriott's management of their loyalty program has turned me into what many of my gambling friends are who sign up for various casino deals. Certainly not tossing out the baby with the bathwater (long term Marriott relationship/excellent service/still worthwhile benefits) but on the other hand, not blindly checking in exclusively at the Big M anymore either, instead, going where 'the action is' (VRBO, TravelZoo, the H's, etc). I had the good fortune of doing the bulk of my travels during the glory days of Marriott Rewards. I empathize with today's Road Warrior, and am fine with my Marriott relationship, it's been a very nice run. The Insider forum running on all cylinders though remains a meaningful goal for me and is where I feel the pain as I watch its tremendous potential fade.
Reading the article, they were bragging on spending less money and intend to continue. I guess they are doing this by cutting our benefits.
As stated before, I have been loyal to Marriott but that loyalty is not as strong as it used to be. I tend to travel to areas that do not have Marriott's and look to Hilton next. As a result have become more familiar with Hilton and now have Gold status with them and often find that I am treated better as a Hilton Gold than a Marriott platinum. I get more upgrades. Breakfasts at resorts. Hilton's promotions have been better. The last double points beginning with the FIRST stay not after your second stay. Hilton Garden Inns give me a full cooked breakfast and Courtyard gives me nothing. Etc.
Wake up Marriott before all your chickens have left the barn!
I was going to post my ideas but never use facebook, twitter, etc. I already have enough things tracking me everywhere.
Anyway My idea was to offer a little gift to the spouses after we have stayed every X number of nights. Let us pick from a variety of small items Flowers, candy, gas cards, cash cards, what ever. After we reach our 25 nights one of the items gets sent to my spouse. Does not have to be a large amount but send them something they can use while I am off traveling again and again.
Welcome aboard wayfairer50.
Stick with Insiders and you won't need Facebook or Twitter .
Keep sharing your ideas and thoughts, there's a lot we can all learn from one another.
Thanks for participating.
erc, thanks for the mention. I have been tied up with some other things and have had to stop participating in Insiders, though I have logged in from time to time to read threads. It looks like I have missed a decent amount of updates (M Lounge, badges, lifetime points) though it does not look like anything has been done about blogs ending up buried. Have you heard or seen anything? IMO, blogs are some of the best content on the site and they end up buried. Speaking of blogs . . . I am overdue for one on my Memorial Day Weekend road trip to Alabama. Hopefully will get that done soon!