I entered this forum extremely frustrated by changes rolled out January 15th. After reading over 600 replies to, "Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes forum!"* it became clear that many hotels and franchisees simply discontinued services and perks that so many Elite Insiders had come to expect without any explanation except, "Marriott changed the program." We all know it backfired with serious consequences. Some very loyal folks left out of angst and frustration. One thing we did learn is that Marriott shifted responsibility to the hotels to decide what Marriott Rewards Program benefits to extend or not.
I used to rely upon Guest Satisfaction Surveys, but noticed a steady decline in the number of GSS invitations that Marriott sends. Since November, I've been writing directly to Customer.Care@Marriott.com to compliment an associate, or to report a less than satisfactory experience.
I found this approach to be very constructive. It alerts local hotel management of a service gap, and allows me the guest to voice concerns and target specific results at the properties that I frequent:
The team of associates at Customer.Care@Marriott.com assigns your note a ticket number and e-mails you back to acknowledge receipt. They also route your e-mail to the hotel's executive office for action. When complimenting an associate, a boilerplate 'thank you' note comes back. When reporting a less than positive experience, someone from the executive office gets back to you within 3 to 5 days.
That is your opportunity to get the GM's ear. Keep in mind that many properties are owned and managed by Marriott franchisees. So the e-mail domain of the return message may be unfamiliar to you. Do not underestimate the value of extending compliments when an associate exceeds expectations. The staff takes notice that you are a loyal customer and appreciate the services provided. When you return, you are likely to receive even better service.
Keep in mind that the GM in your local Marriott has no clue that Marriott Insiders exists UNLESS Marriott gives them access here. Even if they did have access, the individual GM is way to busy to spend time here reading. So, the venting here may not even reach the GM who needs to hear it.
The GM knows and cares that YOU are a loyal guest at his/her property and will listen and respond. The GM knows that your continued business is critical to making his/her numbers each month. He/she will likely elect to restore service(s) YOU expect as well as offer very generous compensation to maintain your loyalty.
If Marriott competitors have comparable offerings in the markets you frequent, make a reservation there and be direct with the Marriott GM why you are shifting brands. He/she is likely to make an exception and unblock that room that you are trying to reserve for points, because you are more likely to offset that with MORE revenue in dining and other services.
Be assured, the executive team will respond because your loyalty is worth it! With multiple Marriott brands over-saturating several markets along with other lodging competitors, the Elites that make the most noise will have an impact. As smart as each Marriott GM is, he/she knows that generating NEW BUSINESS COSTS MORE than loyal repeat business - even if he/she has to deliver upon the promise and services you've previously received and feel entitled to.
To Marriott, the threat of losing any business is taken ~very~ seriously. Try it. For results, write to Customer.Care@Marriott.com
Alternate views are welcome.
Good luck Elites - TJCNewYork
* If you tried clicking on Welcome to our 2009 Program Changes forum! link and received an "error" message, it's because the 636 messages posted there are hidden from view. Amazingly, my message would have been #637 and should have posted February 23rd. I'm delighted that my time wasn't wasted.