I own a seminar company that offers AHA Advanced Cardiac Life Support classes for docs and nurses on a weekly basis around the US. We use Marriott's meeting rooms almost always because of their non-smoking policy which is mandatory for all AHA classes (even just CPR or 1st Aid) However, we are finding that hotel management is not enforcing the non-smoking policy and when we complain they tell us they can't do anything about it. Any ideas on how to encourage all the hotels to require compliance.
This topic is a hot button, thank you for posting. Regrets to hear that the AHA is getting push-back from Marriott properties on enforcing a policy that went into effect in 2006.
Insiders has an active discussion about the smoke-free policy here: There are several approaches and solutions you and the AHA can use to prod enforcement of the smoke-free policy which are outlined in the discussion, I invite you to read the thread, and participate there or respond here.
In a new development, another Insider, Stepping Stones posted an article suggesting that smokers are keen on crashing Marriott's ban. To be proactive, I've e-mailed the article to the GMs of the hotels where I've encountered the problem - with the intent of raising awareness.
Ultimately, the management of each property really has to take ownership of the policy and see to it that Loss Prevention, Housekeeping and the Front Desk are vigilant about enforcement.
One of the most effective ways to encourage voluntary and active enforcement by a Marriott property is to escalate and report lax enforcement to corporate. As a Platinum Elite member your loyalty is highly coveted and the business your company and the AHA brings to Marriott is greatly appreciated.
You, AHA members and seminar attendees can actively write Customer.Care@Marriott.com In the Subject: "Failure to Enforce Smoke-Free Policy Confirmation #:12345678" Describe what happened, be specific about who was told, when and how.
Formulate objectives clearly, it is important that the message be purposeful. Members/attendees who were exposed to residual smoke may want their money and/or points refunded in full, for example. The greater the business impact, the more effective your approach.
Customer.Care will write back with a tracking number. They will communicate with the executive office of the property that you report. The executive office should write or call you. If they don't, call Customer Care at the number provided in the e-mail and request escalation to corporate in Salt Lake City. Aim for quick resolution and compensation. As a Platinum Elite member and a frequent Marriott guest, you are entitled to a smoke-free environment. If Marriott fails to deliver upon that promise at its brands, then Marriott should compensate.
Good luck and post back the results as well as any additional tips worth sharing. Again, thanks for posting on this topic.
To be effective any nonsmoking policy must have teeth--to mangle a metaphor--amnd the offender must understand that there are serious and costly penalties for violating what should be an iron-clad rule.
1. First offense, a hefty fine for ionizing the room, perhaps 500 dollars.
2. Second offense, 1000 dollars fine and removal from Marriott Rewards and all points and any elite status accrued.
Post these new rules and policices on the folios for any meeting or room bill, and on the web site and I suppose only the extremely foolish will vilate the policy.
I agree with you and the suggested sanctions, SteppingStones. But, after more than 3 years, this should be a non-issue. If enforcement is clearly the answer to us and most others who have opined on this board, then what is it that Marriott management just doesn't get. At what point will Marriot get it and make it a problem of the past that has been solved? I personally don't encounter this problem very often (I have posted about my experiences at Tampa Renaissance a few years ago and more recently at the Knoxville Marriott), but the frequency of the problem isn't what it's about. It's about solving the problem. Period! Come on Marriott...Step it up!
Like NUHusker, I fully agree on the sanctions proposed. They are excellent. That said, my concern is that a top-down approach in an organization as large as Marriott will have numerous hurdles; legal being one of them and implementation another. In an informal discussion with the operations director at one property, there is frustration over recovery fees. Guests violating the policy dispute the credit card charge and the penalty fees go into limbo. As noted earlier, signing a disclosure at check-in is needed. This is a layer of process that will take time to implement.
In addition to a top-down solution, a bottoms-up guest-initiated approach will compliment and support action. Marriott's guest satisfaction orientation works. Corporate invites feedback and acts upon it. If individuals in the AHA and others who share a common health mission are writing corporate about breaches to the smoke-free policy at a particular property, corporate will have to intervene.
Marriott already has a bottoms-up process in place: Customer.Care@Marriott.com
All whose view of smoking is that it should not be allowed in Marriotts:
Yes we need a solution. The other problem not mentioned in this thread is the proliferation of smokers at entrances to the hotels, furtive smoking on balconies, and at pools and open areas within the confines of the hotels themselves.
If this is ever going to work we need to have the smokers themselves feel the pain, and not just in their lungs. Yes, an ironclad promise to pay for damages would be appropriate at checkin, a random check of rooms by hotel staff (not just housekeeping) to ensure compliance, better smoke detection, and of course making an example of someone through elimination of Marriott Reward points (changing the Ts and Cs to reflect inappropriate behavior would be a start).
The American Lung Association and American Cancer Society might be tapped as the benficiary of any fines that are levied for smoking violations.
The ways around this conundrum are endless and hopefully as a group we can suggest them all.
As a business traveler with most of my travel throughout California and Arizona, I stay at numerous Marriott hotel brands most with numerous outdoor amenities.
At most Marriott brands, I often experience smokers who engage in their addiction around many of those outdoor areas of the hotel property --- swimmiing pools, patios, balconies, front entrances ---- you name it.
I believe part of the solution could include:
1. Have additional signs that clearly spell out that the entire property is non-smoking ---- not just the interior of buildings, The present door signs are OK but by their silence appear to imply that the no smoking policy is limited to the building, and
2. As some Marriott properties do ---- have all incoming guests sign a disclosure that smoking anywhere on property is prohibited and subject to a substantial surcharge. In that manner, the property can prove up the knowledge and disclosure of credit card smoking surcharges.
I am alergic to nicotine and smoke from any source --- so when I notice a smoker on any Marriott property, I immediately inform the front desk, make the agent aware of my alergy, and ask that the smoker be booted. That - in most cases - is effective.
Great suggestions and thanks for posting. Marriott's implementation of the smoke-free policy appears to differ from state to state. In agreement with your suggestion, one Insider reports that in Illinois, guests are required to sign the disclosure about the recovery fee at check-in. That's being completely upfront.
Country Jim--these are great suggestions. If the policy is to have teeth it needs to be enforced and the penalties need to be ramped up. Much like car pool violators are now forced to pay larger fines, smokers need to feel the pinch a little more for their transgressions.
I would welcome additional signs, penalties including removal from Marriott Rewards and certainly from a property for smoking on it.
The problem is the variation in enforcement that we all see--some places are harder to police than others, and some hotels are more lax. And staff cannot be everywh ere at the same time to police this policy.
Let's hope that Marriott can lead the way in making every property smoke and nicotine free. A new trend emerged to cloud the issue--the appearance of the so-called Smoke Assassin cigarette alternative--in many places that allow the tactile feeling that smokers crave while just blowing (allegedly) water vapor smoke rings. How can we deal with that? The WS Journal reported that current bans are not able to stop non-nicotine smoking, so that's a problem or the next generation of smoking subsitutes.
Keep vigilant--we'll win this fight!
I would suggest that the contract for your event stipulate that in the event of non-enforcement, Marriott be required to refund 100% of monies paid for the event.
in order to comply, Marriott must:
- ensure that one of the management team is "on call" at any time of the day or night.
- That person must respond quickly enough that the person or persons smoking has not finished their cigarette and left the area.
- The management person must take reasonable effort to determine whether the person is a guest or not. If they are a guest, they are fined and evicted. If they are not a guest, they are removed from the premises immediately, using law enforcement if necessary.
I could see all of this coming when Marriott came out with the policy. People are one way about coming up with these things, and quite another way about actually making them consistent or enforcing them. I could write a small novel about inconsistancies in Marriott's smoking enforcement, including cases where they make no effort to enforce existing local legislation.
If they balk at this proposal, explain to them that if they are advertising a smoke free policy and not enforcing it, this is a misrepresentation.
Whether you do what I suggest, or something else, do something that's tough and makes it very expensive for them to not enforce.
"I would suggest that the contract for your event stipulate that in the event of non-enforcement, Marriott be required to refund 100% of monies paid for the event."
"...they are removed from the premises immediately, using law enforcement if necessary."
"If they balk at this proposal, explain to them that if they are advertising a smoke free policy and not enforcing it, this is a misrepresentation."
Good Luck, Techie!
"Whether you do what I suggest, or something else, do something that's tough and makes it very expensive for them to not enforce."
This makes sense.
Had a conversation with desk clerk at check-in at West Des Moines CY last night. Seems at that property, the staff must actually catch the violator in the act, or at least with lighted cigarette in hand, in order to take action. On the other hand, the fine is also imposed if housekeeping finds butts, ashes, etc and smells the odor in a room. Tough situation for the staff. BTW -- I got my newspaper under my door this morning.
The policy is very tough to implement, difficult to enforce and very expensive to recover a room for a non-smoking guest once contaminated.
At a TownePlace Suites recently, smoking that occured in one room, contaminated the rooms adjacent on either side of it because the rooms shared the same air intake ducts and bathroom ventilation line. To the chagrin of the GM and Front Desk Manager, all three rooms had to be placed out of service so they could be recovered. Moreover, the alleged offending guest has disputed the $250 charge.
On top of recovery costs, incoming guests including myself had to be reassigned. One had to be walked. We were all compensated for the inconvenience with a rate reduction and points.
According to the GM, corporate edict defines what you can and cannot do and/or say. Signing a disclosure at check-in is frowned upon because Marriott is going Green/paperless. At wits end, the GM has ordered more signs and taking guest feedback under advisement.
Smokers beware, he warns, "You will be caught."
When we fly we get mandated (FAA) rules and regulations explained on every flight, regardless of duration. Domestically the no smoking rules are explained as well as penalties for disabling, tampering with, etc. a smoke detector in a lavatory. Why can't Marriott adopt the same techniques?
It never hurts to overload the guests with the rules--maybe more will pay attention? Who knows?
Just a thought.
Several government agencies with whom I have interacted have tried the first screen logon technique with great success, especially where training is mandated by regulation or law. The presence of a reminder at log in seems to get people's attention as well as any paper that is handed out then tossed out.
Marriott might consider watermarking its folio's (easily done with laser printers) to thank guests for not violating the smoking rule. Reminders never hurt. Also lobby based flat screens could easily have a b roll at the screen bottom with the same message.
I would hope that Marriott is keeping track of the number of violations that occur on an annual basis across the corporation and then calculating the costs that accrue in terms of cleaning, and renewing rooms. This should be a part of the Marriott annual report to stockholders.
One out of nine stays this year involved an issue where the room assigned at check-in was contaminated by residual smoke. Half of those incidents involved having to switch rooms twice. Not only was it an inconvenience for me and my family, it was costly to hotel operations.
Many Elite do call in advance of arrival to ensure special requests are honored. By "helping" does this insinuate that we have to specifically request that the Front Desk check the room for residual smoke? Shouldn't we have every confidence in hotel management to make sure that a guest room is ready for the next guest? Is there a hidden benefit of micro-managing housekeeping, Front Desk and Loss Prevention?
CPRLady's post focuses on the issue of enforcement. If a guest encounters a violation-in-progress, intervening vs reporting incurs the possibility of unexpected retaliation. Who needs that? As a Marriott guest, I have the expectation that Marriott will ensure my comfort, enjoyment, and safety. Enforcing their smoke-free policy goes along way to achieve that.
During a seven-night stay in Orlando recently, I am very pleased to report that my villa was smoke-free. Signage was in place throughout the resort and designated smoking areas were located sufficiently remote from all entranceways. From what I could observe, guests were complying. I might add that it took several years to reach this point, and I'm certain that my feedback and others contributed to make it happen.
Marriott puts ashtrays around the pool areas, near the entrances, and in their guide at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, goes as far as to say that the balcony IS a smoking area.
They also put ashtrays around any outdoor eating areas, and don't have any "no smoking" signs outside.
Marriott is a big part of the problem here, they do not have their heads around the concept. They want to be able to say they are smoke free and yet still accommodate the smokers. The Courtyard Inn Cocoa Beach Florida has HUGE ashtrays right beside the pool.
Their front desk staff clearly states that the pool area is a smoking area.
They could save a lot of money if they would prohibit swimming, since it isn't healthy around smokers anyways.
Seems hypocritical to me to proclaim you have a smoke free policy and then allow smoking in so mamy places a guest would go.
I know this is about smoking, but the bit about not having the guest sign to acknowledge the smoking policy because of their green initiative reminds me of the fact that their "green initiative" is not well enforced anyway.
Earlier this year, I stayed at the NW Houston/Willowbrook Residence Inn. I noticed, amongst other things, that despite having smoking too near the entrance (in violation of local law), they also put the folios in very thick old style envelopes and hung them on the doors, rather than more securely slipping them under the doors as plain paper and no envelope.
I brought this to customer service's attention, which was passed along to the manager - I cited green concerns and security concerns. I was politely but firmly told that the practice would continue because it "works for us" - obviously corporate customer service didn't add anythiing to it, so therefore, what is their "green plan"? Optional? I am saving envelopes by not staying at that hotel anymore....but you can see my point. Stopping tobacco smoke should be the first priority of course, but they don't really enforce their green policy either.
I checked into a Courtyard a few days ago - nothing was said to me at all at check in about a smoke free policy. There's a little card on the desk, that's it.
To the contrary. Each hotel is responsible for implementing the policy in compliance with local statute. Florida has a strict policy but clearly states that smokers can be accomodated with clearly marked 'Designated Smoking Areas' which are outside of the building. The best example of a successful and effective approach is the Renaissance Vinoy in St. Petersburg. The entire pool deck is 'Smoke Free'. From all approaches there are signs that prohibit smoking poolside and point to the designated smoking area which is surrounded by a very thick buffer of hedgerows about 7 ft high, tastefully furnished with tables and chairs, and ample smoking urns. From my guest room balcony, and the pool deck, I could see the entire area, enjoy the view and the fresh air.
The Orlando World Center is not alone. The JW Marriott Grand Lakes also permits smoking around the pool deck. However, I do not know if the JW allows smoking from the guest room balcony. The statutes in Florida also prohibits smoking around schools, school buses, playgrounds and day care facilities. Perhaps the state legislature might consider more stringent requirements that would require 'Designated Smoke Free Recreational Zones'?
TJC, I don't know why any hotel would designate a pool area as a smoking area. I don't know of any state law that prohibits a hotel from saying "no smoking" near a pool. I'm sure they don't mandate it, but as far as I know, hotels are free to designate smoke free areas. State laws are minimums. Someone who was trying to make a "smoke free" hotel would not intentionally put ashtrays around the pool, near the doors, etc.
I found the two hotels in Houston that I recently stayed at were in violation of local statute. Same for two hotels in Washington state - in violation of local statute. I do have photographic evidence in most cases.
I guess I just don't get it....why put ashtrays all over the place wherever it is allowed (and in some cases where it is not allowed) and call yourself smoke free. Placing an ashtray is implied permission to smoke.
A hotel that allows smoking on balconies is not interested in my business.
The bottom line is, that for where I stay, a Marriott is no more smoke free than say, a Hilton.
Well said! It was exactly a year ago that I enjoyed the Renaissance Vinoy St. Petersburg in Florida and photographed the sign above. The signage was so unusual that I felt compelled to post it here on Insiders on May 4, 2009!!! See my post, Re: AMS-Ode to the Last Puff?
Sadly, we've come full circle. Research about second hand smoke is enough to support smoke-free pool decks, but new research about third hand smoke makes it even more compelling: Third-Hand Smoke ABC News Video (USA)
For more information about the smoke-free statutes in your state/province point your browser to Smokefree.net *
* Smokefree Scorecard