I just saw the recent annual JD Power results for the top hotels by category based on customer satisfaction. Marriott didn't win in any category, and Hilton properties were first in 3. I think that Marriott's emphasis on expansion through acquisition has resulted in an overall decline in quality consistency and customer loyalty. I'd been a Marriott 'junkie' since the inception of the program over 35 years ago, and recall when all of their chains were leaders in their categories. Marriott clearly treated its customers and employees better than other chains, resulting in its number one position. I can't say that any more because competitors have caught up or passed them, while quality and loyalty benefits have been in a steady decline.
I hope this is a wake-up call to get senior management to refocus on consistent superior quality and appreciation for their loyal customers.
Wow, great post and I think a great comment overall. I remember a few years ago when Hilton was in the tank after the PE purchase. I think you are right, that when companies change the focus from the top, you lose the ability to focus on things that matter, like customer service.
Clearly the objective for Marriott now is size and global domination and that results in lower customer service in general (especially across new brands) - has anyone tried Delta Hotels.... no service to speak of for MR members.
I think Bill Marriott would be sad to see where his brand has gone. Especially when it has his name on it!
I've worked in several industries for large and small companies, and have lived through mergers from both sides. My observation is that corporations who provide superior products/ services that delight customer at a fair price prosper most in the long run. Those that focus on increasing profit margin and growth (usually through acquisition) often fail. They perform well during good times, but a downturn is devastating.
It is interesting that the JD Power Study also showed that Millennials are less likely to be part of a loyalty program, and typically are deal focused. Marriott had greatly diminished the benefits and appeal of MR program, so they are becoming a commodity.
superchief1 - GREAT insight into the Millennial factor. I think in general the industry is going to have to come to grips with what they are seeking as a group. They do tend to be more focused on deals and not loyalty. Some of the younger folks in my office didn't even know about or understand how the programs work. Even after showing them the programs (which they signed up for), they still prefer to book through orbitz, or expedia, etc. to find the best deal. Totally different mindset.
Since rates booked on these sites don't earn points, there is no reason to join a loyalty program. Most loyalty programs have greatly diminished benefits and point values, so potential customers are 'free-agents' seeking the best rates. That is not good for Marriott because commodities typically command lower margins in the long-term.
I agree that I continue to have great experiences at most Marriott properties I stay, especially Renaissance and FS Marriott. Gaylord was ok, but didn't see any benefit to MR platinum. I admit I am confused about what to expect at many of the newer chain additions, so I avoid them along with Courtyard. The brand positionings of each Marriott brand used to be clear and Marriott led the categories they participated in. I think Hilton has done a better job recently in the mid-price business hotel (HGI) and suites (Homewood) than Marriott.
I see the bigger problems occurring at the corporate level, where point postings are problematic, the website has several issues, and T&C's are confusing and ever changing.
Did you read the Marriott posting on this a few months back. It looks like they view SPG as a higher end brand focused on luxury travelers and Marriott as a business travlers brand. If they keep that mantra, I would bet on seeing some movement between brands - maybe some Autographs become St. Regis and some Sheratons become CY?