A few months ago, hotelworldnetwork.com, the mothership of several trade pubs serving the hospitality industry initiated a poll, "Which brand has the best loyalty program." Several hundred Insiders participated and voted Marriott the best commanding over 60% at one point and a substantial lead over the other brands. *
Since then, Marriott is experiencing a bumpy ride. To their credit, Marriott relaunched Elite Rollover Nights - an industry first. Staying head-to-head with Starwood, Marriott launched free Internet on May 7th in the USA, Canada and the Americas.
Admittedly, there have been setbacks. The biggy included disclosure that Marriott was dropped from the list of World's Most Ethical Companies. ** Another included loyalist discontent over unannounced and unwelcomed "enhancements" to the Marriott Rewards Insiders experience. ***
Just yesterday, Intensely Lifelike, Marriott Rewards 52-page Merchandise Guide - Summer 2010 arrived. With 32 million members potentially receiving this direct mail piece, how environmentally friendly is that?. How many trees were cut down? How much was spent on the printing and the postage that could have been better spent to engage their most loyal members? But the larger question is, where does the brand scorecard stand now? What are your thoughts about the Marriott brand? VOTE
*** Site Challenges
No, however if Marriott doesn't get over this save the earth and the rainforest, Marriott will lose customers. The reason I stay at Marriott properties is the comfort level. I am offended when amenities are reduced and signs all over telling me what I need to do to save the world by going green. I want fresh towel and linen and I would like to quit bringing my own light bulbs so install so I have enough light.
I tend to agree with Bomar22, but don't find this to be that big a deal. Apparently Marriott has figured out that pushing the green theme pays off for them. As long as I get clean towels and sheets everyday, which so far I've not had a problem with, I'm ok with the rainforest stuff. Just not that big a deal for me.
Funny, I was thinking exactlty the same thing. I know it's not PC, but going green reminds me too much of Al Gore :(. Give me clean towels and bed sheets and I'm fine w everything else. Also, I prefer not to have to ask to clean the towels and replace the sheets daily.
By the way, does anyone else wish the Marriott beds were a bit firmer? The older I get the more I prefer a stiffer bed. sometimes when I get up my back is killing me.
To the point about saving the rainforest with towels and sheets service on-demand, I'm really ok with that and give Marriott kudos for figuring out a process that works. I think it's responsible, offers a choice and a starting point to think about choices that affect the environment, one that deserves to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Green alternatives to unsolicited direct mail marketing demand rethinking from the ground up. Sending out a full-color 52 page Merchandise Guide to 32 million plus Rewards members is lipservice, irresponsible and very offensive to me.
If compelled to engage, prioritize by redemption history. I always redeem for free nights. Send a postcard or e-mail to prospective members with high point balances. Point me online and/or to call or e-mail if I have points to burn. Give me the choice to opt-in or opt-out, rather than put me in a position to trash an unneeded magazine.
Agree with posters here that 1. Clean sheets, 2. Fresh clean towels and I am set.
On the "printing" side, go with PDF files for all your downloads of material and since we have our emails in our profiles-email away.
I have to produce printed copies in my work as part of my deliverables to my customers, but I also provide PDF.
Another thing about printing which NO ONE ELSE does is printing DUPLEX- or in layman's terms, printing on both sides of the page-that is how you reduce footprint. That feature has been around for decades yet business fail to use that feature-even so called "green" people and compaines like Al Gore
Those cost can be cut easily by using the same technology that Delta is doing for it's online magazine.
Key to anything printed is to recycle-of course that falls on us as well as the Waste Management system being used locally. Simple solutions, but no one wants to manage that, so folks push the blame to others.
There are some good points made here on a subject that quite honestly I spend very little time thinking about. I'm not offended at all by the rainforest push by Marriott. Somebody out there is buying it or they wouldn't waste resources on it. I don't know much about it. At home we put the newspapers in one container, and plastic bottles in another. And my wife uses some kind of cloth bag when she gets groceries. And I'm allright with all that. Just give me clean towels, sheets and a newspaper at the door in the morning. Those who don't want/need those amenities -- no problem. But is this what really makes Marriott successful??
"But is this what really makes Marriott successful??"
Excellent question, NuHusker.
There are many factors that contribute to grooming a brand for success. In a business where the core competency is providing clean and comfortable rooms along with fresh towels and linens, Marriott is successful in rethinking operations in a way to afford guests choices that are also environmentally responsible.
Hotels do not operate in a vacuum, they share resources, draw upon services, leverage amenities, and partner with local businesses in the cities, towns and communities they are located in. As the Marriott Marquis and Marriott LA Live demonstrate, a hotel can be the starting point for urban transformation.
From this standpoint, Marriott has been a very successful. That said, only 3 days has elapsed since initiating this scorecard. With only 125 more votes, the gap is narrowing. Marriott remains steady with 38% of the vote and Hilton is closing in.
"Consumer Reports rated hotels in the June 2010 issue." **
The components of the score; Value, Upkeep, Service, Comfort, and Problems are extremely on-point.
All along, my biggest concern about the HotelWorldNetwork poll is the axe they're grinding. Trade magazines reply upon advertising revenue. This introduces a conflict of interest because invariably editorial will support the major account. For example, HWN did not touch the story about Marriott being dropped from the 2010 World's Most Ethical Companies. Neither did HWN congratulate newcomer to the list, Wyndham Worldwide.
Consumer Reports on the other hand relies upon subscription revenue from interested readers looking for an unbiased determination about the best value. The survey results from 27,000+ are impressinve. With Fairfield trailing Hampton Inn; Residence Inn behind Homewood Suites; Springhill tied with Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard in 8th place (where is DoubleTree?) the striking parallel to the HotelWorldNetwork poll is that Hilton is poised to close the gap.
Why? No matter what slant you take, brand loyalty correlates to Value, Upkeep, Service, Comfort, and Problems. There is one other component to value: Rewards (free nights, concierge|suite upgrades, breakfast). Hilton is leaner than Marriott by a mere 7,000 employees. So Hilton is cracking heads, delivering and reving up to cross the finish line with a very narrow gap.
Stacking the votes at HWN will not change the Consumer Reports survey. The takeaway (if anyone at Marriott is engaged in following this thread) is that one more move towards devaluation of any kind, or failure to deliver upon Elite expectations will prove extremely challenging to Marriott. Ignoring Marriott Vacation Club owners loss of confidence and trust in Marriott is a metastatic spill over to the lodging side. Did the Consumer Reports study state anything about MVCI/timeshare ownership value?
Does anyone else perceive Hilton's solid grip on Marriott's groin? Very well done, Pingreeman! You definitely get it.
I am so loyal to Marriott that no one ever suspects that I might stay at another chain. But...even I go off the grid once in a while. And you know, some of them are really starting to look good! I picked Marriott years ago based solely on the fact that they had the easiest website and most accurate. They have recently kind of wrecked that. I just cancelled six nights... I need to see if even at a low status of loyalty points others make me smile at the end of a long travel day.
What bothers me is that after years of loyalty, ! am rarely upgraded on a multinight stay. I am also bothered by the gimmicky nature of a lot of Marriotts most recent promotions and advertising. Put the money into the rooms and facilities, support the clubs. The advertising is frankly very dated and not done very well. There is a picture of a very buffed guy and the baby in the new baby crib promotion could have been so much better. The Residence Inn Cirque du Soleil thing was not appealling to the real people who stay in Residence Inns. We are there often for weeks doing work so we want to come home to our hotel not soar on a trapeze! Also. there is a tendency to roll things out when they are not quite ready for prime time!!
I just hit almost enough for platnum next year so I am taking a break. I have to tell you, Holiday Inn is really improving and Hiltons Hamptons out do Fairfield Inns hands down. I try never to stay at Courtyards, they just nickel and dime you to death. I should not have to pay for breakfast. I just tried the new Indigos, very well done! Many of the Residence Inns are looking mighty ragged and out of date. The new TownPlace Suites sometimes out do the Residence Inns. The RI's are nice but there aren't many of them. The green thing to me is kind of a scam. I like to also be green but I really like my newspaper and lighting! If you really want to be green get rid of all the prepackaged foods at breakfast, the creamers in the clubs don't make sense except maybe off hours, the silly advertising stuff in the room, lots of little things.
I used to love Insiders but it is really kind of destroyed. Too bad. I just default to Tripadvisor for advice.
There are so many things those of us who stay over 75-100 nights a year could tell you. I could tell you about dirty carpets and wonderful little touches like the Fairfield that gives me points and a little bag with water and cookies and a real note everytime I check-in. Makes me smile. I recently had a delay on Delta and they added some points to my acct. as a gesture to apologize for the delay. It also made me smile. I get a birthday card from Southwest every year and a free drink if I travel on my birthday. Little things mean a lot. You're starting to forget that. You need to make me smile.
Have to agree with you regarding the Courtyard and RI; recent stays were disappointing either for the "re-imagined" price gouging at the Courtyards, or the postponed mantainenace at the RI. I look for TPS, or Springhill as they tend to be newer. I also agree regarding the Hampton Inns and have been quite impressed by the ones in which I stayed.
Goalie - I am sorry to hear the level of frustration you are felling, but much of what you said is beling felt be many of us. Your email got to the core of several issues we all feel, but have not been able to articulate as well as you just did.
Thanks! Marriott, are you listening???
I travel 120-150 nights a year, so I've been there. Marrriott's chains are the best. If you want clean towels every day, just ask. Changing the bed sheets everyday??? Do you do that at home, I don't think so. Going green is a little responsible, and if you can't support a company trying to make the world a little better, then grow up. The world is not about you, it is about all of us. But if you want them changed everyday, they will. But they have to pass the cost on to us one way or another, so be smart about your choices.
I think Marriott's customer service is pretty good, and better than lots of the 'chain' hotels. I don't dime out other chains, but think about this, of all the places you stayed, did you every see a dirty Marriott? never. They have the best standards from hotel to hotel, across all the chain hotels.
"I travel 120-150 nights a year, so I've been there. Marrriott's chains are the best. If you want clean towels every day, just ask. Changing the bed sheets everyday??? Do you do that at home, I don't think so. Going green is a little responsible, and if you can't support a company trying to make the world a little better, then grow up. The world is not about you, it is about all of us. But if you want them changed everyday, they will. But they have to pass the cost on to us one way or another, so be smart about your choices.
I think Marriott's customer service is pretty good, and better than lots of the 'chain' hotels. I don't dime out other chains, but think about this, of all the places you stayed, did you every see a dirty Marriott? never. They have the best standards from hotel to hotel, across all the chain hotels."
There is much that you wrote we can agree on. 1. I also think Marriott is the best. It meets my expectations at a price I'm willing to pay. 2. I do expect clean towels every day, and fortunately I can convey that request by simply leaving the used ones on the floor. 3. No, I don't change the bedding at home every day. But then, at home I'm sleeping in my bed. On the road, clean sheets everyday is the price the hotel pays me for staying there. And if clean sheets and towels raises the rate, then as long as it still meets my expectations at a price I'm willing to pay, I'll continue to stay there. 4. Yes, I have seen a dirty Marriott. But in each case, the situation was resolved immediately by the efficient, professional staff. 5. I don't stay at Marriott or anyplace else based on their rainforest policy. And I'm not going to insult you or others who do or don't. I'd appreciate it if you kept the conversation on an adult level and avoid telling those who disagree with you to "grow up."
"avoid telling those who disagree with you to "grow up.""
Good catch, NuHusker. Since that was FreqTraveler's first post, let's give him a warm and hearty welcome to Insiders, and step back to explain.
FreqTraveler - Among thousands of discussions to choose from, it's very impressive that you picked this one first! Most would shy away from such a topic that compares brand performance and invites disclosure of Elite expectations.
That said, "grow up" is a fairly common expression. To your point, Marriott does deserve credit for implementing measures that respond to environmental concerns and offer guests a choice. But, what does maturity (or the lack of) have to do with expectations of value - particularly when you're paying for a service that's embedded in the room rate?
We hope you will continue to participate. Your views are relevant, thanks in advance for cooperating w/ our community's T&C's to be respectful too.
"going green reminds me too much of Al Gore"
Before heading out of town on holiday, it seemed appropriate to reflect on several comments and lucky you - yours leaped to top of the stack. In a candid moment, Bill Marriott admits that he found Al Gore's documentary, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' "sobering" *. FWIW, I interpret that as a euphemism for a need to, 'set the bar higher' prompting questions:
Setting out to find answers, one article, "Hilton or Marriott" poses the question, "if I’m an environmentally conscious traveler, should I stay at a Hilton or a Marriott?" After comparing the two brands, the author declares Marriott the winner.**
PC or not, kudos to Bill Marriott for being inspired by Al Gore to care enough about the global environment, strive to make a difference and achieve a positive impact.
Btw, after very careful consideration, I opt to choose Marriott, too. Comments anyone?
TJC - Understood. However, one serious problem on this commuinity website is that due to the difficulty of the current form, many subjects get discussed on a single thread. Of course I applaud Marriott for being 'green'. It just has NEVER entered into my internal discussion as to where I should stay the next week. This discussion could go on forever, but I would bet you a nickel if I came up with a list of 10 priorities for Marriott to attend to going forward, security and safety of guests being one, I could ensure going 'green' would not be the top priority. Saving the rainforest is awesome, but when picking a hotel I judge the property by does it have a rainforest shower head for example. I don't judge the property by how much energy it is saving by not cleaning the sheets and towels daily, I judge it on how lush are the towels, how fresh are the sheets. Finally, doesn't location dictate hotel choice most often?
It would be an interesting exercize for people to build on this thread with the 5 most important reasons they choose a hotel.
Thank you, shoeman! Excellent points. We're in agreement, 100% Here are my Top 10 priorities for Marriott Rewards:
All of the above have to do with guest expectations of the brand as a loyal Marriott Rewards member whether lodging or timeshare. My expectations of Marriott as a company include world class ethical business practices, environmentally friendly technology savvy operational strategies, Guest-Satisfaction | Owner Satisfaction Driven metrics w/continuous improvement, updated and regularly refurbished rooms, highly trained welcoming staff, no nonsense housekeeping and loss prevention and choice when it comes to doing my thing for the environment.
"Any idea the % of active members on this site are MVCI owners? "
Great question. There is no way to directly track that, so it's open to conjecture. Marriott Vacation Club celebrated 25 years last year and claimed nearly 400,000 Owner families. * Depending upon how the contracts were written and the type of ownership (individual vs. joint), the estimate of owners including spouses could be well over 800,000. What % belong to Marriott Rewards, and what subset active @ Insiders is a guess. For sure, the % active prior to 10/2008 was higher.
Above: Competitive landscape in vacation ownership revenue, number of owners, and units.
Comparing Wyndham's 2009 competitive figures** with Marriott Vacation Club's claims, MVCI may be overstating. Although Marriott has leveraged vacation ownership very well to increase the % of revenue from loyal Marriott Rewards members, and the brand standards implemented by MVCI have succeeded in retaining and building value, there are challenges made evident with writeoffs last year as well as litigation. In addition, there is erosion of confidence and trust in Marriott by a significant % of owners who were influenced to buy by the unique 'trade for points' usage option offered to them at point of sale.
As suggested above, prior to 10/2008, a week of timeshare could be exchanged for Marriott Rewards points and redeemed for a week's vacation at a comparable Marriott hotel. With the hotel category changes and the number of points required to redeem a free night increased, a comparable trade for points evaporated. Given the pooor integration between Marriott Vacation Club and Marriott Rewards, there was no adjustment of value. Many owners who used the 'trade for points' option every year, particularly those who own multiple weeks of timeshare for that purpose felt shortchanged to say the least.
As the many posts*** make evident, there was a significant negative reaction at Insiders. One can surmise that a significant % of owner members ceased to participate. To that point, it is no surprise that Marriott was dropped from the 2010 World's Most Ethical Companies list potentially due to litigation arising in 2009.
* About Us, Marriott Vacation Club
"In the "Luxury Category" was 7th place Doubletree behind 3rd place Marriott, 4th Westin, 5th Hilton, 6th Hyatt, but ahead of 8th place Sheraton."
Thanks for the additional information, Pingreeman. So, in the Consumer Reports study, Renaissance and Marriott ranked 1st and 3rd in the Luxury category, outplacing Hilton, that's good news. Did Ritz-Carlton place?
In the meantime, Marriott's lead in the HotelWorldNetwork poll, "Which brand has the best loyalty program?" slid another percentage point. As shown below, Hilton only needs 8% to leap ahead to be the best loyal program.
Based upon Stepping Stones recent post, IHG may be the largest hotel company globally, but their size doesn't seem to correlate with guest perception of loyalty program.
What is Hilton doing that Marriott is not? Does anyone know? Or, is this industry poll bogus?
"The highest tier was "FANCIEST" where only two brands were listed: 1st Ritz-Carlton (88 pts) and 2nd Grand Hyatt (83 pts)"
Thanks Pingreeman. Was there a breakdown of the 88 pts by the various measures? Intuitively, with Ritz-Carlton taking top position, that's enough to place Marriott Rewards in the lead over any other brand when it comes to best loyalty program. As everyone knows, Marriott Rewards points can be redeemed at Ritz-Carlton. So, the greater your loyalty, the more luxurious the rewards. Kudos Marriott!
I would also like to see the Ritz synergy enhanced. I find it a little challenging to use points for rooms (not a few clicks away) and also as have kind of been lectured a few times, "no upgrades, no concierge etc". Kind of makes you feel like the country cousin. Not all Ritz are created equal. Sometimes I feel just as if not more pampered in a nice Marriott, Renaissance or JW. By the way, the new one JW in LA is quite the place. The downtown LA Marriott rooms need a refresh. I worry some hotels get all the attention and others wither when there is a new star in town. Hate to see it. I like the staff and the concierge folks are great.
Any news on getting Insiders in better shape? I miss the community and easy chatting. I am going to Berlin in a few weeks and seem not to be able to find any old posts about the Marriott there. I almost booked the Ritz in Berlin but no access to the lounge killed it. I never give up a European concierge lounge!
"I would also like to see the Ritz synergy enhanced. I find it a little challenging to use points for rooms (not a few clicks away)"
Goalie and Shoeman
At least one article suggests that the 'challenging' aspect of the Marriott Rewards redemption experience for free stays at Ritz-Carlton might be more 'streamlined.' * To be candid, there are aspects of the Ritz-Carlton service culture that I'd like to see injected into Marriott.
Marriott Rewards and the tiered Elite system sets expectations that the more you stay, the more you deserve and should expect. The 'Spirit To Serve' culture outlines "associates, customers and the community". ** Note that customers and guests are intertwined.
At Ritz-Carlton, the Credo makes it clear that it is all about the guest: "The Ritz Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience." ***
After comparing these philosophies, ask yourself, "Am I customer or a guest? How do I want to be treated? What's the difference? It's very subtle, but I think Ritz-Carlton has it right. At the Ritz, it doesn't matter if you are Silver, Gold or Platinum. You are a guest and deserve the 'highest mission' and the 'finest personal service'.
It's great that Marriott has a feedback loop with Guest Satisfaction Surveys. At the Ritz-Carlton, the feedback loop is part of the guest experience, "The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests."
I too look forward to experiencing the 'synergy' of a top notch loyalty program with the 'finest personal service'. Kudos to Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.
UPKEEP: Ritz Carlton, Grand Hyatt, Renaissance
SERVICE: Ritz Carlton
COMFORT: Ritz Carlton, Renaissance, Westin
My recent experiences at Renaissance agree with the Consumer Reports dot rankings especially the Renaissance Vinoy St. Petersburg, FL; Renaissance Suites Charlotte, NC and Renaissance Patriot Place, Foxboro, MA. I would downgrade the Renaissance Asheville, NC on upkeep since their fixtures and furnishings are due for a refurbishment.
Similarly, whether a guest or dining, the upkeep, comfort and s-e-r-v-i-c-e at the Ritz get the highest ratings.
"I like to know that IF I requested a change, it would be done"
Coincidentally, the grand opening of Marriott's Lakeshore Reserve Grand Lakes in Orlando illustrates your view extremely well. Some explanation is needed.
Marriott's Lakeshore Reserve is the newest addition to the Marriott Vacation Club brand. The Marriott Vacation Club is built around vacation ownership which features an alternative to the lodging experience that offers all the conveniences of a home-away-from-home while on vacation.
With 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas, living/dining areas with fully-loaded kitchens, these units typically include a washer and dryer in the unit. Units are sold in units of a week | 7 nights. Annual maintenance fees include a housekeeping charge, but the service is provided to prepare the villa for the owners' arrival and provide fresh towels on-demand throughout the stay. The fee also includes a mid-week tidy.
Changing the sheets daily is NOT included, in fact it is by request and involves a nominal charge. People do have different sleeping habits and some enjoy sleeping in a birthday suit - LOL. However, if someone should have an accident a change of sheets is needed, housekeeping will provide fresh linen and you make the bed yourself at no charge. With young children on family vacation - this can and does happen.
To sum up, what people do at home or on the road is a private matter and not necessarily "a waste". When we're travelling for business or leisure our expectations of the brands we choose greatly shape our experience. Overall, by offering a choice, Marriott gives the guest freedom to choose. That works for me just fine.
For more about Marriott's Lakeshore Reserve at Grand Lakes in Orlando, see Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve Grand Opening.
"re-imagined" price gouging at the Courtyard"
Agreed, what's up with that? Price gouging is one way to turnoff loyal guests and compel them to jump brands. In retail, merchandise at the check-out is overpriced responding to the impulse buyer. Striking a parallel, reimagining Courtyard around impulsive buying gives the brand a cluttered feel.
A recap from the most recent NYU Conference on the industry reveals room rates are becoming a commodity. Surprisingly, the rate difference between 'luxury' and 'upscale' has fallen from $47 to $14.*
If rates are shifting upscale guests to Courtyard, that offers insight into the gouging. Does anyone know if this is happening at Hilton too?
"Trees are grown and harvested like any other crop, with fields rotated and cared for."
Christmas trees are raised on farms too, just like any other fresh floral product in a nursery.
But, are the oils, resins, microbiocides, cleaners and polymers used in paper manufacturing; as well as the inks, pigments, dyes, solvents and chemicals used in printing grown, harvested in fields that are rotated and cared for too? What happens to it?
In New York City, the Department of Sanitation designates specific days for Christmas trees to be left out for pickup and grinding into wood chips and mulch. How much of these 4-color catalogs used for Marriott's 32 million plus direct mail effort wind up in recycling vs. landfill?
No matter what 'informed' response, my perception is that 32 million catalogs is wasteful. My expectation is that Marriott provide members with the opportunity to opt-in or opt out. An online catalog is just as effective.
Btw, in the past few days, Marriott slid backwards another percentage point in the poll, "Which brand has the best loyalty program?"* Should Marriott maintain the lead, or will engaged HiltonHonors members close the gap? Does a direct mail catalog make Marriott Rewards a better program than Hilton Honors?
What will it really take to make Marriott Rewards the best loyalty program?
* Hotel World Network, VOTE!
not sure what your point is. suffice to say, some of us what 'choice' in such matters and don't want to be controlled. If Marriott provides choice, we will be happy. In fact, anyone looking to provide goods or services to me will be offering choices or they will not be providing me with goods.
Shoeman and NuHusker
Choice works for me, too. That's my expectation of the brand regards the Marriott Rewards merchandising catalog: I prefer the choice to opt-in or opt-out of receiving a printed catalog or an online catalog or both.
My e-mail is on-file and linked so I can get Reservation Confirmations, Cancellations, e-Folios, eBreaks and more. I wouldn't mind if Marriott Rewards sent an e-mail highlighting selected travel related items from their new merchandise catalog to entice me to go online and view/download the catalog. Better yet - why not make printed copies that members have opted out of receiving available in selected hotel lobbies, or at the Front Desk or in the rooms?
Truth be told, a merchandising catalog that I don't want, but my letter carrier has to hand-deliver to my home won't compel me to jump to Hilton or any other brand. In the grand scheme of things, there's much bigger fish to fry. The point is, I expect more from the brand of my choice. Don't talk from one side of your mouth about going green and then slip a 52 page 4-color catalog down my throat.
Quick update 6.11.10: As the attached graphic shows, Marriott maintains the lead in the HWN Poll, 'Which brand has the best loyalty program? at 36% and Hilton slid back a notch to 29%.
If you are among the 1200 Marriott Rewards members viewing this discussion over the past few weeks on Insiders - thank you for stopping by and taking the time.
Everyone knows that when it comes to business or leisure travel, you have a choice among several major brands and boutique hotels. If you are a veteran road warrior like me, you deserve and expect the very best from the brands you patronize.
Currently, there is a race among brands to claim bragging rights for the best loyalty program. The frontrunners are Marriott Rewards and HiltonHonors. Marriott has the lead by a very narrow margin. Whatever Hilton is doing to engage HHonors members, their associates and members of other loyalty programs like Marriott Rewards, Hilton is doing right.
As disappointing as it is to see, Hilton is closing the gap on Marriott and will more than likely dominate and overtake Marriott in the Hotel World Network poll, 'Which brand has the best loyalty program?' in the same way Hilton dominated the field in the Harris Interactive 2010 EquiTrend study earlier this year. *
Unless you act, now.
If you are among the millions of lurkers the Internet is notorious for, and you love the Marriott brand, then ALL HANDS ON DECK! Now, is the time to come out of lurking and cast a VOTE for Marriott:
* Harris Interactive 2010 Brand Equity: Hilton, Southwest Rank Highest In Brand Equity
In less than 12 hours, Hilton has managed to close the gap so that Marriott only has a 2% lead. Very disappointing show, Marriott Rewards members.
Where did Marriott miss the boat?
Above: Bar Chart depicting the percentage of votes in the Hotel World Network poll, June 13, 2010 @ 1:00 am EST for, "Which brand has the best loyalty program?"
"I guess the people have spoken!"
Yes they did. It is evident that business and leisure travelers and timeshare owners can and are continuing to give feedback that something Marriott is doing or not doing is causing them to feel less than satisfied with the brand and the loyalty/rewards program overall.
When I first started tracking, Marriott Rewards had over 60% of the vote and a very comfortable 40%+ lead over Hilton. As NUHusker noted, Hilton has the lead, now. As of today, that lead has grown to 5%.
Well it's official. Hilton out-performed Marriott Rewards and took the lead in the HotelWorldNetwork poll, "Which brand has the best loyalty/rewards program?"
Voting is still open. While HWN declared Hilton the leader in mid-July when 3,500 votes were cast, Hilton has maintained a 5% margin above Marriott Rewards as the vote turns the corner on 4,500.
The question is, what did Hilton Honors do to outperform Marriott Rewards? What could Marriott Rewards have done differently? What programs|promotions|offers|benefits should Marriott Rewards consider to regain their edge and resume the dominance in rewarding guests for their loyalty?
I absolutely don't get some people would complain about requests to reconsider needing clean towels and sheets everyday. Do you change your towels and sheets daily at home? Do you think its nothing to use up water and electricity unnecessarily? We - everybody with a conscience, and even those without - need to stop wasting resources. I personally don't want to stay at a hotel that does not give me a choice for multi-night stays.
"Do you change your towels and sheets daily at home? Do you think its nothing to use up water and electricity unnecessarily?'
Thanks for being candid, some elaboration is worth sharing.
On a recent vacation we stayed at two different Marriott Vacation Club resorts for back-to-back 7 night stays. Marriott Vacation Club units feature 1, 2 and 3 bedroom, 2 bath villas with fully loaded kitchens including washer/dryer. The point is, for a 7-night stay you enjoy all the conveniences of home-away-from-home.
Kindly note, housekeeping is NOT included and available for an additional fee. Towels and linens are available on demand, but the owner|guest has to make the bed. At home, my wife and I wash and change the towels and linens weekly.
On vacation, we are in and out of the pool, do sightseeing, go shopping, enjoy dining out for dinner and back to the pool for a swim before retiring. We might go through 2 sets of towels with all the showering, so unlike home, fresh towels on demand are a necessity. Since we make the bed every morning, wash soiled clothing in the W/D as needed and shower every evening before retiring, changing the bedsheets daily would be overkill. What's not expended for daily bedsheets is expended in washing clothes. The tradeoff is to pay for extra luggage, but why do that when we already substantial maintenance fees so we can enjoy the conveniences of home in our timeshare?
Now let's switch to business travel. Like myself, several Insiders who contributed to this discussion are Platinum Elite and spend 75 to 100 nights on the road. For me, one's hotel room is not a home away from home, it's one's private sanctuary where the dust and grime and other **** one encounters when on the road gets on the towels and bedsheets.
So, for fellow Insiders | road warriors, opting for daily housekeeping including clean sheets and towels is not at all unusual. Unlike Marriott Vacation Club, the Marriott brands that cater to business travelers understand these guest expectations.
To Marriott's credit, they offer the option - that's being green-friendly. Of course, the overhead to deliver linens and towels daily is already built-in to the rate structure. That's what full-service is all about!
stacey, you answered your rant in the last sentence of your post -- choice. How many lights I turn on, the thermostat setting, and yes, even the number and frequency of towels I use are personal choices which I pay very well for every time I stay at Marriott. That's the price they pay for me choosing to stay there and not at a competitor.
"I pay very well for every time I stay at Marriott"
Speaking of costs, on an invite, I had the unique opportunity to take a back-of-the-house tour at a Ritz-Carlton. Rather than rely upon outside vendors for linens and towels, the Ritz does it in-house. The process, machinery, square-footage and manpower involved is an eye-opener.
It's likely that a significant % of the Ritz-Carlton room rate is budgeted for towels, linens and housekeeping services. Even in the most Green-friendly Marriott brand, reliance upon outside vendors would still be a significant operational expense that is unequivocably passed on to the guest.
And, it all has to happen like clockwork. No one wants to step out of the shower and dry off with soiled towels.
Good Morning Folks!
Let me start by saying I had the first-rate experionce this morning of a cold shower courtesy of Marriott (Stamford Ct). Stuff happens, but the perky girl at the fron desk was way too eager to blow it off rather than to offer some compensation. I strongly suggested she speak with her manager and come up with some kind of compensation before I reurn this evening.
Regarding towles and linens, anyone who travels for a living, and many who don't, have been innundated with "bed bug" stories of late. I want my room sanitized each nite of my stay, period. If Marriott ever chooses to cease that option, I will cease staying at their properties. Period. I do not think this issue has anything to do with being green or saving the worl from certain doom. Let's all get real.
"I do not think this issue has anything to do with being green or saving the worl from certain doom."
Comparing, another brand speaks to 'Sustainability': "Our objective is to lead our industry with products and programs that not only deliver great guest experiences, but protect the world we live in."
IMO, this statement speaks clearly to a brand's goals w/o insinuating that guests take ownership for the rainforests and feel 'guilty' if they don't.
"Let's all get real."
Agreed. The 'Sustainability' message is not only clear, it's credible.
"Regarding towles and linens, anyone who travels for a living, and many who don't, have been innundated with "bed bug" stories of late. I want my room sanitized each nite of my stay, period."
Consider these stats posted at HotelWorldNetwork. W/ travel making a comeback, the issue presents both real and perceived hurdles. Let's get real? W/o a host, these critters can hiberate and lie dormant for up to 12 months if an adult. The are also brand agnostic, so they can migrate, hop or jump on an Elite traveler, clothes and luggage for a free ride to your brand of choice or worst yet, your home. Irrespective of brand, we expect our brand of choice to be have zero tolerance when it comes to this issue.