Well, the 2009 Concierge Lounge picture is becoming more focused now. As we see the "Brand Standard" issue in place at Full Service Marriott hotels: last fall the corporation, in a belt-tightening move, checked the offerings at every owned hotel and removed items that were not in the corporate or brand standard for meals and snacks.
What this means at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York, is now for breakfast there are only two egg hot dishes (both scrambled), breads, pastries, and cold cereals. Coffee and tea of course. Gone are the extra items--the cold salmon, the onions, the specialty meats, the other salads. Evening Brand Standard cuts are more drastic--there are two warmers and in a recent stay the food consisted of
Two large blocks of cheese and flatbread crackers as well. No meats, salads, veggies, no other sides, no real variety. If you wanted mixed nuts they need to be asked for.
Customer complaints seem to have made an impact with the management and staff, but little is being done to change things. Brand Standard is the byword--mentioned by everyone and at all times as a catch-phrase to address all issues. One manager told me than an executive manager visited the lounge and was surpised to find that people wre making a dinner from the food offerings! (well, why not?)
We got a delivery of sliced veggies sent to the room as a result of the complaining--nice gesture from a room service manager.
My advice to all: keep up the pressure for renewal of what was once a nice perk while staying at Marriotts--the well-stocked Concierge Lounge!
I appreciate Marriott's drive for frugality as much as anyone (just ask my CPA and my broker, who watched as I lost most of the balances in my 401-K), but see this as a balancing act between their bottom lines and our guest satisfaction: the need to be economical can start with the elimination of those little pens in the rooms, for example. Perhaps as well the papers delivered to the door (which will start on June 1st), and other cost effective measures. Perhaps we can all think of things that would help the Marriott bottom line?
When it was conceived the Concierge Lounge was a place meant to reward an exclusive group of loyal travelers, and as I have said in the past, it is now far from exclusive (at a recent stay at the Marquis the concierge told me he'd clocked in 508 guests for breakfast alone and with 2000 rooms in the place, that is quite an "exclusive" group!)
I maintain that the Concicerge Lounge may have outlived its original purpose and can or should be eliminated in favor of other, more tangible benefits given to elite members.
Cost-wise, the lounge is an expense that may pay dividends in stays. so it needs to be a place where everyone can feel they are welcome and well-treated.
Brand standards are fine--but let's not forget the guest has standards that he or she expects as well.
Marriott is the leader in setting brand standards that others follow.
"at a recent stay at the Marquis the concierge told me he'd clocked in 508 guests for breakfast alone and with 2000 rooms in the place, that is quite an "exclusive" group!"
508 guests visiting Concierge for breakfast represents roughly 25% assuming 100% occupancy and a single guest per room. While the number seems staggering, the % is not surprising, considering the Times Square location, a category 8 hotel and a rack rate of $329+/night. The Marquis attracts a higher % of Elite guests. This 'exclusive' group of Gold and Platinum Elite stays with Marriott 50 to 75+ nights a year and has an expectation from the brand they are loyal to.
Rather than cut costs in ways that are guest-facing, I would frame the challenge differently: Find ways to deliver the same and more services - more efficiently. So in this scenario, if the % of Gold and Platinum Elite rises from 25 to 30%, how can I as Concierge make sure that each guest breakfast experience is maintained at a standard that meets or exceeds Elite expectations?
Extend this challenge to the Director of Housekeeping. With 30% of the guests at Gold and Platinum and all of them request a late check-out, how do I deliver 500+ spotless 1 bedroom king suites to the next group of Platinum guests that arrive early?
Take the challenge to the Front Office Manager. Anticipating 100% occupancy, and 500+ Gold/Platinum check-ins, how do I make sure that each guest is assigned the best room and complimentary upgrade expected?
It's a huge challenge!