From the informative web site Hotel Reviews, Hotel Ratings, Hotel Openings || HotelChatter (which as you see, is highlighting Marriott's and Ian Shrager's new Miami Edition - boy, the press loves Ian), here's a good overview about room assignment.
As Sy Syms used to always say, "an educated consumer is our best customer" (which may not be Marriott's tagline ), arm yourself with info. Read the part about front desk range of autonomy. My conclusion, if you want something - communicate. If you just wait and expect your just rewards, whereas sometimes it will work out fine, often it may lead to you being slotted in an acceptable ( granted, which is often good enough, I save contact energy on many trips) to help them provide others what they asked for. Like many Insiders, I agree that for the most part, FDAs and hotels in general want to please their customers as much as sensibly possible, but they need to know. What say you?
I'll play, but briefly. I think perhaps no replies yet, because this is actually a thoughtful, provocative post (and great job), which may take some time to digest and respond to.
"Patience is a virtue."
What the blogger described in the article was a perfect world scenario and I don't believe that most large, busy real world hotels are that efficient. I do agree that room assignments are a very complicated matter in large or otherwise busy hotel properties that host a large number of events. Additionally, reservations are in a constant state of change, and housekeeping efficiencies and staffing come into play, along with all of the other things mentioned in the article. Other factors include whether or not management empower front desk personnel to make what can often be complicated decisions that will result in a maximum win/win (revenue maximization combined with customer satisfaction) for all, and that is assuming that the employees up front even have sufficient analysis skills to make these types of decisions based on the information in front of them. Then there are the sort of impalpable, human factors involved, such as what kind of a mood the front desk associate is in (having a good day or a bad day, did he/she just finish dealing with the guest from hell right before you walked in?), do they even feel like doing their job? or even how well you the guest click with them, first impression and that sort of intangible thing.
I had a situation where someone in my party recently stated somewhat cavalierly (and honestly without realizing how it came across, and truly not meaning to be difficult, just perhaps forgetting that little bit of finesse) to an associate, "You know, I'm Platinum, so blah, blah, blah... and perhaps blah, blah, blah" (can't remember what the exact words were, but it definitely came out wrong to my way of thinking and struck panic in me, and I'm thinking 'Oh dear, please no.' and I blurted out with a smile, "Ya, she and about a million others," giggle, giggle, as I tried to cover the faux pas. What was most interesting was the associates response to my blurt. I saw his face change from an initial reaction of "Oh gosh, here we go again," (from the first comment) to a warm smile, and he immediately says, "You know I'm glad you realize how many elite members there are. There are indeed so many, and I can't tell you how many members we deal with every day who all have this sense of entitlement." To finish his sentence, I said something to the effect of, "Ya there just aren't enough suites and views for everyone." He said, "Exactly." But his countenance really changed once we were able to overcome our initial misstep with the "I'm somebody" impression by turning it into an attitude of "Hey, we're all in this together; we appreciate the job you do." So for me, I'm a believer in the idea (fact, really) that how and even when we approach the task of communicating our requests really can make a difference. Others may disagree with me, but the reality is what it is. We (meaning collective platinums/lifetime platinums, even the occasional lowly golds) often don't get upgraded for whatever reason, but good, timely communication, as well as how we come across can be key to better outcomes. The fact is, we do have to communicate what we want and the more specific we are, the better. "Since we're Platinum, any chance of an upgrade for us?" just probably won't cut it, however if I say something like, "Last year we stayed in room such and such and we just loved it so much. I was wondering if that room might again be available or even a similar room on the same floor overlooking Such and Such Street. In this way, I've just politely asked for what I want, without even mentioning status. It gives them a starting point, and I think takes the pressure off of them. They might try harder. I'm thinking that it might be best to assume that they are aware of our status to avoid any feeling of, "Hey, don't tell me my job, I'm well aware of our loyalty program and your status in it, thank you very much, and just because you are platinum doesn't necessarily mean I can pull monkeys out of my butt, but thanks for informing of me of your status, cuz gee, otherwise I would've never known. Not."
Getting the type of room we want can make the difference between night and day. We don't always get what we want, but knowing how to play the game can sometimes help. It certainly can't hurt.
I'm with you,
If I have to have it (ocean front view), I'll buy it.
If I really want it, contact the hotel, preferably in advance.
Otherwise nothing or the one time chat.
When I was staying near Monterey a couple of weeks ago, I noticed just prior to the stay that I had a king bed studio at a Res Inn. I contacted the property and asked if there were any rooms with two beds and she told me that those rooms are all two bedroom suites and they were presently booked, but she told me that she would put a note in my reservation asking for one in case of a cancellation. The next morning, when I checked in (purposely early, telling them that I didn't need to access the room, just wanted to check-in with the front desk to inquire about the two beds) and mentioned the prior telephone conversation, she checked and said, yes we have a suite available for you. No extra charge, no mention of status (on my part). It was Golden!
I confess, I was one of those that read, and passed on, mainly because the link didn't open, dunno why, it has done just now...
I don't think there's anything new here, but it does bring home the complexity of running a 100+ room hotel with all the functions, parties, groups, VIPs, elites, organisers wanting low floor, high floor, near CL, near elevator, quiet rooms, then wanting rooms for their group that interconnect/on same floor/close by, then there's the upgrades, suites, view rooms, spa rooms etc, etc. Juggling all these competing demands has got like trying to nail jello to the ceiling.
For my part ive only requested an upgrade twice, once because the room I was allocated overlooked a railway line, and the other time fir my sons birthday, both requests were accommodated. Nonetheless I'd say, even sans request, I'm upgraded about 80% of the time, though maybe only 10% of that to suites...
Thanks for jumping in, good stuff. The other issue to consider of course is the variance in territory;
America - like pluto wrote, an elite around every corner - I've been to big properties where they've told me 40-50% are gold and plats
Europe - a lot looser, with excellent concierge lounges and offerings and much better odds of a 'less competitive upgrade game'
Asia - holy cow (from what I've read from klaus, johnthai, et al.) this is what Marriott was like in the eighties
So the contact effort is probably more necessary in the good ol' U. S. of A.
I really would like an upgrade on my next vacation in Aruba. We've stayed here before and have been upgraded to a very nice room (without asking for anything...probably 5 years ago). The rates are very high right now (vacation season) so I booked the lowest room type (limited view). I would like to request an ocean view room on a high floor. Do you think this is too much to ask as a gold member? Should I call the hotel or e-mail? Any tips are appreciated!