A question: what is the purpose of staying at a Marriott hotel? Is it to gain points, to be treated well, to be recognized as someone special? I think it's all of these factors. Now...
Another question? What is Marriott's purpose in giving us a place to stay? Is it to make that stay special, exceptional, even spectacular?
Yes, and more I would guess--the Marriott experience should be one that many of us former Easterners experienced when we first shopped at a west coast Nordstrom's store in the 1980s--blown away by exceptional service and a willingness to do whatever was necessary to satisfy the customer.
Marriott's philosophy instilled long ago, is that you must do things well and then everything else falls into place. Time may have lowered or raised our expectations of the way in which we define service, but I would submit we still know poor service when we see it. Defining excellent service is easier, a little, but it is the in-between that gives me the most trouble, since my anchoring bias prevents me from being totally objective.
I am reading the new book on the history of the west coast's premier fast food (not an oxymoron) place, In'N'Out Burger. The hugely successful fast food powerhouse founders, the Snyder family, had a simple philosphy when they started in Baldwin Park CA in 1948: Do something well, treat your employees well and your customers very well, and everything else will take care of itself. Much like Bill Marriott Senior's first Hot Shoppe in DC long ago, the truth is in these little details.
I for one am hoping that Marriott continues to ask the questions that I started this with: what is "our" purpose in providing lodging? Times change, values shift, but in the end this striving for excellence will keep me coming back.