Okay, I'll admit I have read complaints about overcrowded CLs on this forum with a grain of salt. After all, didn't everyone else there earn their way in just like I did?
Well, my last few stays at full service properties have convinced me of the error of my ways. For instance, At the Mayflower in DC, in two separate instances, two young adults each brought in at least 8 friends, who proceeded to help themselves to drinks with no honor sheet. While the poor lounge attendant was trying to account for all of their drinks, another boisterous group of women went through bottle after bottle of wine, getting louder with each pour.
I am now sitting in the CL at San Diego Marina Marriott with a seeming 1000 of my 'closest friends and associates', all vying to get the last cube of cheese. I've been here several days and have seen kids running all over yelling and grabbing food, people bringing in 5-6 friends, waiting lines for seats, food running out after 30 minutes etc. And this is after they have renovated to make it bigger. There is nothing loungy about this circus. They even have an attendant at the door checking names but when faced with a crowd who has been drinking or a parent who feels they are 'owed' entrance for the clan, they are pretty powerless--not to mention the 'list' contains everyone on two floors plus apparently every platinum, gold, etc in the city.
Marriott, I've stayed my 75+ nights a year and paid you handsomely for it. The CL used to be a coveted benefit; in even the nicest properties it now feels like the Fairfield in Orlando during free breakfast hour (and I've done that, knowing the tradeoff for the room rate). The poor employees must have missed a meeting to be assigned to work in them, because it is no longer about service but only about crowd control.
Anyone else having an increased number of issues like this still?
I have experienced similar crowds during the summer months when many points are used and families travel under one platinum umbrella. This week is spring break in San Diego so I can only imagine. Normally, away from summer and vacation times, which leaves us with about 7 months the lounge is ours.
Left: Ringling Brothers
"There is nothing loungy about this circus. It is no longer about service but only about crowd control. Anyone else having an increased number of issues like this still?"
Sounds like a front row seat at Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus! With hotels struggling to retain guests and justify shoestring Concierge Lounge operations, allowing one or two guests is reasonable, upwards of five is abusive. You nail the issue on the head. The Concierge Lounge requires rethinking from the ground up.
The Lounge concept is not as it was, and I fear never will be again. The refuge was indeed special like the Clipper Club on Pan Am or the Ambassador Lounge on American Airlines. It was a place of decorum, not enforced, but accepted as a condition of entry. An attendant might ask for your name and to see your key in those days, and politely turn you away if there was no entry indicated on your record. A special place in different times.
Now, as with most things, like cell phone chatterers, incessant gabbers, and heavy drinkers and eaters everywhere the Concierge Lounge is another place in the hotel where seemingly everyone can go, and does. I have seen quiet lounges as the exception, not the rule.
Ritz, on the other hand, strictly enforces entree into their Club Floor and Lounge, where everything is included, even drinks and multiple meal services during the day, every day of the week.
I for one would not lament the discontinuance of the Lounges, as long as they were replaced with some other form of compensation for the top tier guests. Heresy I know but as they stand now, the Concierge concept is gone and gone (I fear) forever.
Above: Concierge Lounge governance. Marriott Concierge needs an app for that.*
For every challenge there is a solution. Leap-frogging and cross fertilizing, why not have a Marriott Concierge app? Enable ELITE with multiple channels to SMS text from a mobile communications device to report Concierge Lounge issues to Loss Prevention. Approaching Concierge Lounge governance electronically is a solution that can be measured easily. With key-only access to Concierge, the guest name, elite status and room number can be displayed to the attendant. If the guest is intruding, an automatic alert can be sent to Loss Prevention. This approach helps the attendant focus on service and leave crowd control to Loss Prevention. Make it a team effort.
Take a step further, create a Concierge Lounge Elite database that tracks guest use of Concierge. As Pingreeman aptly points out, only Gold and Platinum Elite are eligible for Concierge. Increase Elite awareness about the expected Concierge Lounge etiquette and penalize those who don't comply.
A slight correction to my earlier post and those that followed: yes, the lounges are reserved for Gold and Platinum members as well as those staying on, and/or paying the Concierge level up-charged rate. In many hotels, being housed in a suite is also included for access. In others, some front desk personnel make exceptions and allow some Silver Elite members to use the place. I have witnessed this myself.
While there seem to be stated policies about guests allowed (one per and immediate family, for example,) there is no universal policy that I can find to restrict guests.
How about an innovation initiative to determine what the Lounges should be, how they should be structured, and how they should be controlled? The corporation would do well to canvass its most loyal members of Marriott Rewards, those of us who have access, to determine what we'd like to see in the C. Lounge 2.0 iteration.
This would give us all a sense of ownership on this issue and determine the actual value to us of this benefit.
"we have instructed the hotels not to over-achieve"
Pingreeman - Kudos on being the eagle-eye to see through the blur of year's worth of messages and remind us. That hopeless memo triggered a HUGE uproar in the Elite community both here at Insiders and FlyerTalk. In an effort to restore confidence, Marriott countered. The following announcement* was posted by a member of the Marriott Concierge Team on Flyertalk about a year ago, April 7, 2009:
Just over two weeks ago I announced that Marriott would be reevaluating its Concierge Lounge offerings. All the concerns raised in this thread were discussed; however, the focus of the current change is on food offerings. Based on multiple feedback sources, we learned that hotels needed additional flexibility in the types of popular, healthy, and comfort food selections they offer. Going forward, our General Managers and hospitality teams on property will have options that will help them to customize lounge offerings that meet their guests preferences.
I recognize that many of you would have liked more details regarding this new policy, or perhaps to have seen additional changes. I am optimistic that as you visit our lounges over the next weeks and months you will be pleased with the changes you observe. I assure you that we continue to look for ways to improve and we value your comments, concerns, and questions.
Marriott Concierge Team
Bottom line, the new corporate edict superceded, "we have instructed the hotels not to over-achieve". The thought of a concierge circus experience is not what I expect. What the original poster describes is not an exaggeration because many other loyal Elite have commented on the subject.
As the Marriott Concierge announcement last year makes evident, corporate did listen and needs to fine tune and listen again. Restore confidence once more, Marriott and thank you for inviting our feedback and valuing our comments and suggestions.
Which brand has the best loyalty program? VOTE!
I have never witnessed such anti-social and possible downright dishonest behaviour, but as for numbers- Well I always travel to Marriott on leisure and I am always accompanied by my wife and two children. They always have been allowed to visit the lounge with me, and I do believe that to be right. There is no point in my being an honoured guest if only I am allowed to use the lounge !!
Leslie, I agree with you, but I don't think it's the family members that are the real problem. It's the member with the access who invites friends/associates to the lounge for some "free" booze. Happens all too often as the attendant becomes overwhelmed with the crowds and can't control the "honor" slips, etc. And, as pointed out, it doesn't help the cause when front desk staff are allowing access to other than gold and platinum MR members. That also happens way too often. A guy who works for me (silver MR member) gets access at nearly every Marriott he stays at just by asking. Front desk needs to know how to say NO. So in the circumstances I pointed out, checking keys won't work if I use my key to let others in. Or if I get two room keys and give one to fellow travelers without access so they can get in without me. Whatever the solution, I don't get the impression that Marriott is willing to spend much money on it. But I think there's some really good ideas from those who have posted.
I can't believe all this whining! Sure, there might be a problem once in a while, but generally the lounges work fine. And I don't understand the undercurrent in these comments that imply only Gold and above should be allowed to use the lounge. It has always been the case that renting a room on the conceirge floor entitles one to lopunge access. It can't be any other way--they have to get what they pay for.
While it is true that the standards for reaching Gold have been relaxed a bit, it is still more difficult than at Starwood and Hilton. We should be more concerned with restrictions on Gold and aboave members, such as no breakfast at resorts.
If expecting fellow Elite members to abide by the 'one guest' rule, expecting front desks to control access and expecting parents to control the behavior of children is whining, so be it. I use the lounge for a break, the internet (thank goodness I'll be able to get it in my room starting May, as my employer will not reimburse me for charges), and yes to relax a bit. In the trips I've taken the past few months, 'circus' is a nice way of describing the atmosphere.
The employees I've spoken to are just as frustrated, as they have little or no say in what goes on but take all the heat for the noise/misbehavior/crowds as well as from those on the other end expecting to be able to do whatever the heck they want.
I like the idea of canvassing elite members to see what we all use the lounge for. It's a benefit, and I'm sure not an inexpensive one. Establishing general rules of order based on elite members feedback and publicizing them to both members AND properties, with a mechanism to report isssues (Love the app idea!) just seems to make good business sense. I know I don't want to lose the privilege and availability of the lounge; it is one of the reasons I stay at Marriott as much as I do. For a woman traveling alone, it is (or was) a quiet and 'safe' place to relax, have a drink and snack and check my email.
"I can't believe all this whining!"
MVCIOwner - Considering the number of Elite participating in this online community, and the caliber of the remarks made in this discussion, that comment contributes zero.
Is 'whining' relevant to the content of this discussion? Is 'whining' respectful of others ideas?
Thanks in advance for observing the Insiders T&Cs and use the Edit Reply function.
"If expecting fellow Elite members to abide by the 'one guest' rule, expecting front desks to control access and expecting parents to control the behavior of children is whining, so be it."
Engineer - To make the challenges you describe even more complex, hotels are owned and operated by franchises licensed to use the Marriott brand. While corporate may have clear guidelines for concierge operations, the decentralized framework presents a huge hurdle. Depending upon the market, hotels are struggling with occupancy, high turnover and lack of training.
From the Front Desk to Loss Prevention, Housekeeping and Concierge there is plenty of guest feedback that underscores gaps in training that is the foundation of good service. That's one of the reasons that Marriott solicits guest feedback.
From that viewpoint, your participation here is appreciated. As a suggestion, do consider contacting Customer.Care@Marriott.com to point out the CL challenges and possibly any solutions you think might improve Marriott's capability to deliver excellent service.
this is an interesting conversation, one that is near and dear to all of us road warriors that find some solace in "the lounge". My personal experiences on the topic have taken a considerable turn for the better. While all of us have experienced crowded lounges, I have found this to be the exception rather than the rule. Additionally, I believe that the increased # of guests using the loung is possibly more a function of the economy than anything else. In the past, I would take advantage of the lounge for water or soft drinks on the way to my room in the evening, maybe a quick look at the dessert offering around 8 pm, but almost never for food or alchohalic beverages. Presently, partly because of the much improved food choices, partly because of the economics of the day, it's not unusual for me to take advantage of the loung for my dinner needs. I would suspect that others iare n in the same boat as I. Because of this, I tend to accept a "busier" lounge experience than I might prefer. That said, I do feel the pain of others that experience a crowded lounge and quite possibly a picked-over selection of foodstuffs. I don't really have any suggestions to Marriott as to how to control the situation but I would offer that none of us should expect the attendant to somehow play the heavy with the guests, making sure they belong in the lounge. I find the attendants almost always very pleasant and helpful, but also almost always busy taking care of all the things that need to be done to ensure a pleasant guest experience. Anyway, as Forest Gump would say, "that's all I have to say about that".