I recently spent one night at the Farmington CT Marriott near Hartford. Great location in a park-like setting.
In checking out after getting a lovely suite upgrade, I was asked by the Front Desk Associate, "How was your stay?"
I have been asked that question millions of times at checkout, and realized that many Associates actually never listen to the response to that question they asked.
Perhaps it is time for a Marriott face to face training session for the checkout process? At many Renaissance Hotels the Associate does come around the desk to give you the key--a nice touch.
When someone asks it is polite to wait for an answer and to be attentive at the same time. Truth be told, the current response is less than perfect. Not a big deal but it contradicts the motto of The Spirit to Serve, in my estimation.
I'd be willing to bet that two of the reasons you're seeing the behavior you, as most of will likely agree we're seeing too, are..
#1 - The majority of people just give the automatic answer of "Fine" or something equivilent, so they're used to being able to being on automatic pilot after the question. I'm guilty of that...even when there is a problem. I usually save any real issues for a manager simply because I know a front desk staff member can't do much more than offer an apology. I grab the email address of the hotel manager and contact them direct with any issues because I know that's the level that's going to make the most impact. I do the same with my compliments. In fact, I'm guilty of using the "compliment sandwich." Even when I voice complaints, I do my best to point out the things I have noticed that are good.
#2 - I'm guessing that most front desk staff...non management...aren't much more than minimum wage paid staff. And to be blunt...you get what you pay for. I don't expect much from desk staff...but when I get something above and beyond it's appreciated.
Interesting how you note that when a staff member comes around the corner to give you your key you find that an extra nice "touch." It happens to me from time to time...St. Petersburg Marriott was the last time. I actually find it makes me uncomfortable. I'm not sure why...it's not a personal space issue...it's just not something that feels natural to me.