While most, if not all of us, would like to stay at Marriott properties, in reality that just isn’t the case as Marriott isn’t “everywhere” and because of that, we stay at competitors’ hotels. During such stays, I like to compare the various programs to that of Marriott. What I find is either something totally out of character or something that is very consistent with other hotel brands in the industry.
Such was the case recently for a business trip of mine.
Haven’t stayed much at Radisson Hotels by Carlson, but I have to say they have this check-in program called “Express yourself” seems pretty neat.
Concept is rather simple as you:
1. Have the option to check in online (available within 7 days of arrival date) PLUS you earn 1,000 “Gold” points EVERY time you check in.
2. Choose your preferences (room location, newspaper, wake up call, etc)
3. Print your check in pass (present at desk, keys are handed to you, off you go).
Now, thinking about this “express” check-in, how is this any different than what we have received at Marriott?
1. We get “points” OR food item when we check in, even have our own check in line.
2. We already have our preferences established and when we book online, we have the ability to check for additional items like: Refrigerator, pillows, etc.
3. Because of status, we get our keys rather quickly.
I guess it is the same principal, just the application of varied programs are “different”.
I do like the 1,000 point concept though and this is my recommendation to Marriott to consider. Consider the following breakdown and is certainly open to discussion regarding points distribution. (Andrew, we told you Marriott Rewards Insiders would keep you busy).
1. Base: 250 points (This would be any new Marriott guest, not signed up yet to MR). This is really here to drum more MR business and offering some sort of incentive, would go a long way I believe.
2. Silver: 500-750 points
3. Gold: 1,000 points – 1,250 points
4. Platinum: 1,500 (Truly, this level spends more, travels more, do more for Marriott than other levels, and so shouldn’t the compensation be there?)
5. LTP, PP: 1,750 to 2,000 points. (Truly, this level spends more, travels more, do more for Marriott than other levels, and so shouldn’t the compensation be there?)
During these difficult times, which will be here for a good while, it is nice to know that Marriott does listen to us.
Not suggesting that ALL things we post will be implemented, but I have good faith in the MR program that they DO look at things to enhance their program-which I consider a top tier program. Make no mistake; Marriott does have serious competition.
In air travel, JetBlue really worked out the kinks of an innovative self-service reservations, virtual check-in and bag drop-off process. On a recent trip, agents do not even handle the bags, but merely check your ID, bag weight and attach a tracking ticket. Travellers must handle their own bags, lift them onto the scale, take them off and walk them over to the conveyor belt. If assistance is needed, it's there with a service charge.
Self-service is revolutionizing domestic US travel and the value proposition for JetBlue is more efficient operations and for travellers, less cost, fewer lines and less time from the curb to the security gate. There's no loss of human interaction, air travel is very social - you may strike-up a conversation at any point. The sense of security is conveyed by the presence and active engagement at check-points.
For car rentals, the kiosk works too, Alamo and National have done a great job. You reserve online and receive an e-mail confirmation. At the airport, swipe your credit card, enter your drivers license information, select your insurance options and head off to pick out your car. The keys are already in the ignition. The only time you have to interact with a human is when you leave the rental pound and present your contract and ID for verification. Picking out your own vehicle is far from impersonal, you're actively engaged picking out the model, color and seating.
Applying the virtual check-in to lodging, and Marriott in particular would involve significant change management. My first reaction to self-service check-in within a hospitality setting is the cold impersonal feel of spending hours getting to your destination and interacting with a kiosk. If you could pick out your own room, automatically receive a complementary upgrade, sign-up for your welcome gift, schedule a wake-up call, pick up your keys from a front desk kiosk that would be amazing.
Using Marriott Rewards points to incent people to learn and accept the process is one thing, (and I think you thought that out fairly well) but I see the value proposition in reduced operational costs which should be passed on with lower room rates.