Seems to me that choosing any brand of anything is a matter of personal choice reinforced by habit and experience. Those who swear by the most famous brand of Ketchup, for example, claim they can always spot an imitator, and those who favor one kind of adult beverage can be mighty fussy with other, lesser brands if they're served them.
Hotels are like that as well. Many of us who have traveled domestically and overseas for a living find comfort in the reliability and comfort in knowing that a certain brand will deliver a level of service that we appreciate. I remember my father extolling the virtues of the Holiday Inns, which he used for business travel but forced us, as a family to eschew for economic reasons (most likely real enough ones I must add). We stayed in a lot of motels that were just little cabins.
As a late teen and early 20's guy my first national lodging brand was the Econolodge, and sometimes Motel 6. In those days they were six dollars a night. I had my share of experiences with their little towels and smallish soap, not to mention the rampant mildew.
As my taste matured and wallet fatter I concentrated on one lodging brand, and that brand was Marriott. Living in DC at the time it was the newest and soon to be the most dependable brand for my money. That was 40 some years ago. I guess I stick with Marriott for a number of reasons, mostly due to pleasant experiences (mingled with the bad) that I've had, value for dollar spent, and in recent decades, the burgeoning value to me of the Marriott Rewards program.
Loyalty to a brand, of which much is made in these forums, is a personal decision each of make based on a number of objective and subjective factors. We each make a choice in where to stay. Loyalty decisions are never final, since companies often change and are taken over, and their core business philosophy changes (Howard Johnson's comes to mind).
So, I would be interested in hearing anyone's rationale for choosing a brand, even if it's not Marriott, for their lodging needs. I know we've discussed "I choose Marriott because..." but perhaps we can cast that decision in terms of past experiences and growth over the years to arrive at this point?
Just a thought.
Growing up I got the travel bug from my parents. They loved to vacation and mostly took road trips, motorcoach or a transcontinental train. My first trip on an airplane, I headed off solo to a summer program for advanced high school students hosted by the National Science Foundation at the University of California San Diego. From then on, I was hooked on being a road warrior.
Most of my time as a teen and young adult away from home was spent in dormitories in the US and abroad. If it wasn't a dorm, it was usually a relative's home. So, as soon as I was able, began taking weekend trips with classmates, friends and co-workers to enjoy the shore and the mountains to escape the scalding heat of New York City in summer. We would overnight in a motor lodge, nothing ever fancy.
My first gig with a boutique professional services and management consulting company sent me to Europe, Africa and Asia. My introduction to Marriott was in Washington DC as many of our clients had close affiliation with the associations, trade groups and professional societies headquartered in DC. The Eastern Shuttle was convenient for day trips, but then this turned into 2 and 3 day sojourns. When Marriott launched the Marriott Marquis program, and Eastern, Hertz and Marriott were 3 peas in a pod, why do business with any one else?
In less than a year, I earned more than 100,000 points and redeemed them to take my young family for a 10-day vacation at the newly opened Marriott Orlando World Center. That was the first of many annual family summer pilgrimages where Marriott would be a gracious and attentive host whatever our destination.
Those early and rewarding experiences shaped a lifetime filled with positive expectations about continuing to trust Marriott whenever away from home. Where there any bumps in the road? Of course. But Marriott always knew how to turn a negative into a positive. Perhaps out of convenience, I choose to remember the positive - but that is - after all my personal choice.
Thanks for the great opportunity to reflect on that!
Thanks for sharing the experiences with us!
My tale is similar, over 40 years I was a big HI customer and really thought I had "Arrived" each time I stayed at a HI. Like you I also enjoyed other chains and really liked Hyatt Hotels when I could find them.
It all changed when my car got vandalized at a HI in Charleston WV and I moved hotels to a just opened a Marriott across the street. I was fascinated by the new Marriott in Charleston and the rest is history.
The thing that I have valued is that I have felt Marriott has contributed so much to my enjoyment to traveling. The consistency and quality have really meant a lot to my guests and me.
The "Personal" choice that you discuss is so important to people who do have a choice!
Jerry, the Charleston WV Marriott was the place that I stayed when my car broke down in nearby Nitro (what a name!). Everyone at the Marriott was helpful and I was glad to have found such a great oasis in this little (or not so little state capital) town.
Thanks for allowing me to remember that time!
My business traveling started in the mid 90's. I soon concentrated on the Choice lines, mainly Quality and Comfort. They had properties in the smaller to mid-sized cities I traveled. They offered a points program. The rates were affordable. After 9/11, fewer folks traveled nationally and rates went down. This combination caused a cash flow and profit hit for most in the travel industry. The Choice properties I stayed seemed to get tired over the following years.
I began looking at Marriott since they offered properties at all my travel destinations, mostly Fairfield and Courtyard. They also had nicer properties in downtown locations which sometimes offered great weekend rates. Since my business travel occurs on weekends, that was a big plus for a sole prop. My traveling / business companion wife enjoyed the Marriott line much more than Choice. We found the lower end of the Marriott line equal to or better than the best Choice. As the Choice properties raised prices in the past several years, the price difference narrowed as the quality difference widened.
In 2007, we began staying exclusively at Marriott. The business travel has subsided a bit, but our personal travel has increased substantially. We advanced from Silver (07) to Gold (08) to now Platinum (09) as we used the website to find deals and took advantage of Global Rate Breaks and MegaBonuses and Double Nights. For those well deserved road warriors who earned their status when it was harder, I personally am not diluting their perks since my weekend travel doesn't give the opportunity to use the concierge lounge. Perhaps an increasing number of elites will mean more opportunity for Marriott to give back to us.
The blogs have been a super tool to learn from the experienced and helpful fellow elites who share experiences and offer tips. I wish I had started with Marriott years ago.
You haven't lived until you have been to "Nitro"!
I am a mid-Westerner, but I must say I have really enjoyed my trips over the years to "West-By-God"! Never dull, and no matter if it was Bluefield, Cheat Lake, Hurricane, or Charleston the trip was always memorable.
Stepping last year you mentioned Marriott was going to aquire the Greenbriar Hotel, Any News?
What a great experience. Yours seems to sum up a lot of what has transpired for a lot of us! I literally remember filling out the Marriott Rewards application in WV and did not realize at the time " How a small door would open up to a large room"!
TJC, like you, that 10 day vacation to Disney is something that your family and you will never forget. You seldom get that experience at other hotels, no matter how expensive or cheap.
Keep the recommendations coming and it's refreshing to read how others, like you, have had years worth of fond memories supported by Marriott!