Marriott: this is the year 2010. As a business traveler, it is very frustrating at how many Marriott Brand hotels do not have wireless internet. (Courtyard is by far the worst) Yes, all have it in the lobby, but wireless internet in the rooms is essential. Why upgrade me to a room/suite with nice comfy furniture if I am going to be wired to a desk??? And those that do have wireless, most networks are so overloaded that dial-up would be faster. For example, why am I using my AT&T laptop card to be connected to the internet tonight? Answer: no wireless internet AGAIN! I am not one to usually complain, but I am getting very frustrated with the lack to effort to upgrade technology. I have been a loyal Marriott customer for many years, but if I can't have good internet so that I can do my job, it may be time to go elsewhere.
I agree. The world is going wireless and Marriott is lagging behind. It would be nice to check in and find wireless in every room, and even an N standard here and there.
It hurts to have to pay at most full service Marriott's for slow, wired and overloaded internet access,
I think it's time for a reappraisal of the whole concept of what a business traveler needs to be productive, starting with the freedom to be wireless in every room
Complimentary broadband internet access is probably one of the biggest gaps meriting Marriott's attention. Thank you for bringing it up. For business or leisure, we rely very heavily upon content and communications accessed via the internet. In fact, the hospitality industry and Marriott in particular needs to pay closer attention to integrating the internet into the overall guest experience. To date, not one Guest Satisfaction Survey that I have completed asks about this aspect of my experience at Marriott hotels. Since Marriott is not inviting feedback, I can only assume that it is not a measure of importance.
While wireless access is a hot button for you, I'm rather agnostic. I'm actually very passionate about Marriott providing complimentary and consistent hi-speed broadband internet at all brands for Marriott Elite in particular and Rewards members in general. Access can be wired or wireless, what's important is that it be complimentary.
When I check-in with a Marriott Rewards ID or step into any Marriott facility anywhere at anytime, I expect that the Marriott Rewards ID is the sole criterion for log-in and complimentary broadband access. With that member ID/email address and password, Marriott knows who is accessing their internet node and can assign Elite based access in the same way that any corporation can assign role-based access.
The second most important imperative for me is a uniform and consistent interface combined with standardized Terms & Conditions. Over the past 18 months, I've stayed at close to 100 different properties across most of Marriott brands. My laptop travels with me. Because the sign-on procedures and T&Cs vary so widely, I routinely document my experience. Here are 3 examples selected at random:
Graphically, it is very evident that Marriott assigns no importance to integrating the guest experience of the internet into the brand experience. Aside from the graphics, Terms & Conditions of access vary widely. What does not vary, it that the guest must agree to the T&C before access is granted. While I am not a lawyer, I think it is my responsibility to at least comprehend what it is I'm agreeing to as a guest of Marriott. Even more so, if I am paying for the service.
I definitely 'get it' that you want the freedom to enjoy untethered access to the internet whenever a guest at Marriott. For me, that's a nice-to-have. Complimentary hi-speed access with Elite-based access combined with consistent Marriott-branded Terms & Conditions is a must-have.
"MR - are you listening?"
That's a very profound question AND it's reverberating in what feels like an echo chamber. From Comment Cards to Guest Satisfaction Surveys and Marriott Rewards Insiders, it must be extremely challenging to aggregate the fragments of guest experience so that genuine insights emerge that can be acted upon and then realized. Delivering broadband is not Marriott's core business. Selecting the business partner with the broadband internet solution that can be easily adopted and rolled out is easier said than done. I am hopeful that MR is listening and open to solutions. Have you seen a broadband solution in the hospitality marketplace?
In January 2008, thought leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers quoted John Hayes, the Chief Marketing Officer of American Express, “Engaging with consumers in a dialogue and being an effective listener is where the greatest innovations will come from.” To Marriott's credit, Marriott Rewards Insiders was launched soon after that. In fact, the vendor, LiveWorld which operates the digital platform upon which Marriott Rewards Insiders is built also operates a similar platform for American Express. Is LiveWorld the best solution for a gated online community? Maybe. Are there gaps? Definitely.
Mobile access is one of them. TripAdvisor has a mobile solution which allows anyone with a smartphone to access reviews of restaurants, hotels and more. While I can make Marriott reservations easily from my BlackBerry, try viewing Marriott e-breaks or e-Folios. Not.
Marriott has a ways to go, and they are ahead of everyone else.
I have found lately that the properties I'm in have wireless, though at times the speeds are pretty poor.
As a computer engineer by trade, I typically try to carry things with me in my bag of tricks that helps when I am presented access challenges. I carry these for visits to client facilities as well as various other random uses, including hotels.
My company provides us with a service from IPass. Its great for getting online in places that typically charge, including most hotel chains. However there are places it does not work, so I resort to a few items from the bag o tricks.
First up is using my blackberry for my access to the web. I hate the thought of paying to teather my phone so I found a little app that works great, even pauses my data while I answer/talk on the phone. Its called PDA Net by Junefabrics. Think its about $30-40 to get a full paid copy but its available for trail.
Second thing I carry is a very inexpensive, yet wonderfully powerful wireless router. I know you are thinking, WTH those things are too big to carry....but have you seen the pocket versions? This thing is smaller than my blackberry and works like a full access point, router or simply a wireless adaptor. Has full security, just like the one you have at home. I got mine for about $30 and its absolutely fabulous for hotels that have a hard line but also works great in offices that have only one network connection but there's more than one that needs it. See the pic of the router setup. They do have a version thats 802.11N but I have the G version. Ebay has them usually for a song.
Anywho, would be great if Marriott finally figured out a single solution that would be fast enough that would allow all the guests to watch their netflix at the same time :D-- Edited by zukracer at 02/28/2010 12:47 AM EST cuz I cant spell guud ;)
Great post. Is PDAnet for the BlackBerry provider 'agnostic'? Verizon is my provider and when tethered to my notebook the device is set to synch with my calendar and contacts. Any tips are appreciated. Recently, I've been exploring the Ritz brand and 24-hour broadband wifi access is $9.95 The speed is excellent with uploads of 1.5 MB and larger. I'd like to test my BlackBerry's performance and set a baseline. TIA
The PDANet is for any provider, it works great and you can even give it a try before you buy. Definitely worth the trial download to compare and for the cost, its a great backup option that is just always there should other ones fall short. I figure if I dont have a cellular signal, thats a sign that I should just enjoy the surroundings for a bit LOL
One thing to note, this will use your broadband data plan on your blackberry, so if you have unlimited you are golden. IF you have a montly allocation, just be mindful of it so you dont get a huge bill the next month ;)
From their site:
Unlike other tethering software that only supports Proxy connections or through a third-party server, PdaNet provides you with direct and full Internet access so all your email, instant message programs will work without any setting changes.
PdaNet allows your computer to go online instantly at broadband speed. Supports both USB Tether and Bluetooth DUN