The San Francisco Airport Marriott has a podium with a small carpet in front of it clearly marked "Elite Members". Being Platinum, I thought - great - looking at the line at the front desk. I went to the podium, Mr. Podium pulled out a piece of folded up paper, with lines drawn through the individual reservations for which he has printed off and set up keys. Told him my reservation was only a few hours old. He then said..."Oh these are for confirmed reservations from the past 24-48 hours. You'll have to get in line." Clearly, this is not helpful. Being one that just doesn't complain - all that needs to be done is for Mr. Podium to print off the reservations list hourly or every other hour. If someone has time to create keys, great - if not - it is as simple as "I see you just made this reservation Mr. Collins, we have not time to set a room for you. If you'll wait one moment, I can create a set for you." By the way, this has a secondary benefit, Mr. Podium won't have to worry about which reservations are closed from hour to hour since only the open ones will be on his piece of paper...
I have to stay at this hotel for the next 8-10 weeks. I hope someone from the hotel thinks about implementing this opportunity for improvement.
I also experienced the same situation in the Crystal Gateway Marriott in DC. 'Don't have it, you have to go to the check-in line' seems to be a standard response. I didn't complain because I was just happy to have a room after avoiding being stuck in a Boston snowstorm.
However, you make a very good point. This 'service' needs some attention focused on the details. My 'Podium Guy' was standing alone and clearly could have updated the information on the list he was using. Hopefully your suggestion for improving this service will be acted on...not only there but also at other locations where this 'service' is provided.
The Elite Podium is a great idea and convenience for elites, it just needs some 'upgrading'....pun intended.
While the statement was tactful, it would have taken less time to recognize your Platinum status, pick up a phone and get a room assignment from the Front Desk Manager. Whether or not the Express Check-in setup has a device to encrypt a keycard presents another challenge. (It could have been walked over). From that standpoint, I agree that Express Check-In continues to be a problem requiring a solution, resources plus on-going training to work out the kinks - when exceptions occur such as the one described.
Combined, the 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability for Platinum and Express Check-In does work - well. However, on very rare occasion, when my reservation is booked less than 48-hours in advance due to weather or other conditions, the guest experience is prone to kinks and hurdles. The takeaway is that guest operations is focused on a 48 hour window in order to deliver the services we expect. Anything less is an exception that can be finessed with Front Desk teamwork and excellent 'thinking on your feet' by the podium.
I'm sorry to read that this happened at the SFO Airport Marriott. I have stayed there several times and have always been treated grandly.
Assuming there was no line of Elites behind you, I am quite surprised that the associate didn't offer to go the front desk to get your key FOR you! The situation you have recounted simply doesn't seem to be in harmony with Mr. Marriott's "Spirit to Serve".
I have always been very pleased by the service I have received at the Elites Only desk where it exists. Two that I recall as being especially good are the NYC Marriott Marquis and the Anaheim Marriott.
I'm afraid I would have politely told him that if the hotel was kind enough to provide an Elite check-in counter that my status as an LPE did not change simply because I made my reservation less than 24-48 hours ago. I am still PE no matter when I booked my reservation.
If there was no check-in computer at the courtesy desk, I would have suggested that he/she PICK UP THE PHONE and call the front desk to get me a room assignment and a key prepared so i didn't have to wait in "that line" (assuming there was one. If there was no line, no issue.)
The suggestion of printing a new Elites list every hour is such a simply and easily workable solution that I find it very difficult to comprehend that no one in that hotel's Front Desk management team hasn't thought of (and implemented) it already!
Well, I checked in last evening, and guess what? My reservation was made a week ago, and Podium Guy didn't have my reservation. I again got the 'you'll have to go the front desk'.
However, I have to say, there wasn't a wait at that time at the front desk and Shawna (I believe that was her name) executed a perfect 'save', taking care of me promptly and efficiently and thanking me for being a Platinum Premier.
But, it still remains that something needs to be done differently here. 'Podium guy' doesn't have a phone or any way to communicate with the front desk from his location other than shouting. Perhaps either that could be done, or a 'runner' could be provided for cases where the Elite's reservation isn't in the book a the podium. Its not a good first impression to dissapoint/embarrass your best customers when they first walk in the door.
As frustrating as the experience you describe is, the feedback about the 'save' is good to hear. Was there an opportunity to share your observations and possible solutions w/the FD rep? As a suggestion, consider e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org to relate the circumstances and compliment the staff member. Customer.care will respond and forward the e-mail to the hotel's executive offices. Let us know the outcome.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, NukeFerret,
Be assured this sarcasm isn't directed at YOU, but rather at the situation. Acknowledging no the lack of data or voice connectivity at the Elite Podium:
Was there a line of Elite customers waiting behind you? If not, I would think that Podium guy could have walked WITH you to the front desk and introduced you and your situation to a desk clerk.
You indicated there was no line at the front desk, so maybe that wasn't needed in your situation. But what about the Elites who arrive when there is a lengthy line at the front desk? This seems to have been the situation faced by StevenDCollins, the original poster.
Why should there be a need for a "save" at the Front Desk? Why not deliver an experience in accordance with the expectation created when the Elite customer walks in, sees the Elite podium and thinks "Great! They have an Elite podium." ?
You've hit the nail on the head: With two comments about this situation in a week, how many other Elites are getting pissed off by this so-called Elite "benefit" when it isn't delivered?
I'm going to guess that if there's no voice or data connection at that podium, there probably isn't any power either. So either move the podium to where all of that is available or use a laptop and a wireless network to connect to the Marriott reservations system. Continental and United Airlines both do this - roll up a cart to wherever extra help is needed. Continental's need power, United's work off batteries, but they can check bags, issue tickets, issue boarding passes without needed a specific wired data connection. Marriott's tech team should be able to work on that - right after they're done fixing Insiders!
Why are we even discussing this? This information needs to go to someone in a decision-making position at the SFO Airport Marriott. Although way off topic for this thread, but in light of the surveys to improve Insiders which are coming soon, what we really need for a situation like this is a "Send It to the GM!" button as part of Insiders.