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As the newest ambassador who will be working alongside SteppingStones, I wanted to first thank our Ambassador Emeritus, TJCNewYork for all his great posts and information sharing over the past year.
I have been one of the many to complain about the changes to the Insiders site since April and Marriott is looking for ways to improve the experience. But I think we have to accept that it is not going back to the way it once was, so it's up to us to energize the site. We've come to know each other as a community, so let's keep that going!
SteppingStones and I are working together to come up with ideas that we can present to the Marriott Team. In the meantime, I think as Jerry Morgan and others said recently, we need a stimulus!
Please post your stories, experiences, problems, and other issues related to Marriott and travel so that we can reinvigorate the site. Also, you should feel free to contact me on Insiders' mail if you have any specific problems with content, negative experiences, etc.
So post, post, and post some more!
Well deserved, and I to share your concerns and desires to make the Insiders a "Tool", that is educational and rewarding for all.
I would eliminate the Ask and Answer section of the site. Can't that be incorporated into the Forum section? It would be more desirable to "Drive" people to the Forum section.
Likewise, I would add two other Forum categories:
There seems to be a distinct customer who really would benefit from these two new categories.
Professor, again congratulations!
Professor, welcome aboard and I heartily echo your laudatory comments on TJCNewYork's very hard work as an Ambassador. His diligence and technical expertise are unrivaled and it's been a pleasure to work with him as an Ambassador for the last year. Knowing he'll continue to be a valuable contributor as an "Alum" makes good sense.
We need to keep Insiders fresh, innovative and lively. No comment is too far off base, no taken as too hard to do. Ideas that percolate within the site are always welcome and solicited. Let's keep Marriott Rewards Insiders a site that we want to visit again and again.
Professor - I add my congrats to those already offered.
My suggestion would be the addition of a forum called something like Marriott Direct. It would be monitored on a not-less-than-daily basis by a Marriott employee (Andrew?) who can engage with this community and can help us address issues in a positive and forward-looking way.
Above: Travelator @ Charles DeGaulle Airport Terminal 1, Paris, France
"I would eliminate the Ask and Answer section of the site. Can't that be incorporated into the Forum section? It would be more desirable to "Drive" people to the Forum section."
Conceptually, Ask & Answer has the potential to be a 'travelator' to the Forums like the one shown above. Ask & Answer provides Insiders with a quick and easy way to participate in the life of this online travel community. With very minor exception, the answer to a question posed in A&A may be found in one or more discussions in the Forums.
By providing a hyperlink to a Forum post, the Insider not only gets a reply, but potentially an invitation to participate in the community discussion and learning-by-example. For example, there are serveral variants to the question; how many points are required for a free night's stay at a Marriott hotel? While I've attempted to answer this question by pointing to posts with the Category 1 - 8 charts for Hotel Rewards and PointSavers, it's too time consuming to locate the posts. If the search tool was operational and more Insiders felt comfortable, my hunch is that this 'travelator' route into the Forums will become very popular.
FWIW, here is the chart posted in too many posts to remember:
From a technical perspective, eliminating the Ask & Answer section can be as painful as a tooth extraction. Keep in mind that A&A has a component in every Insider profile (My A&A). The solution resides in streamlining Search and Advanced Search so that relevant answers can be found easily. And, increasing the comfort level of the average Insider in creating hyperlinks.
"Likewise, I would add two other Forum categories:
Alternatively, expanding the title, "Hotels" to Hotels, Resorts & Vacation Clubs would be a more descriptive approach encompassing the broadest audience of business and leisure travelers.
Grande Lakes, Orlando, Florida is an excellent example of Marriott's very trendy and upscale multi-brand solution that includes lodging, resort and timeshare side-by-side. Another example is the JW Marriott Desert Springs and the Desert Springs Villas. These are just two among many.
"There seems to be a distinct customer who really would benefit from these two new categories."
Thinking expansively, that is, beyond lodging, there is untapped synergy that could greatly benefit all business segments of Marriott. That is, if Forum naming conventions were less narrow. As a charter member of Marriott Marquis, my business travel experience with Marriott compelled trust and confidence in the brand as a basis for not only considering and buying Marriott Vacation Club but also referring MVC to friends and family. I definitely get the need to focus Insiders on the organization's core competency and for Marriott that means lodging.