Has anyone else taken notice of the number of negative posts recently? Whether it has been disappointment in physical appearance of properties, the way people have been treated at the property, or issues with reservations and/or other corporate issues, it seems to me that many folks have not been satisfied with their Marriott experience. I guess it is vacation travel time and many are traveling with their families. Possibly they are expecting the same treatment they receive as a road warrior (paying customer), even though they are "vacationers" staying on points. Do you think there might be a double standard?
I think, Kahuna, as you've said that the best source is the hotel management for compliments and complaints. Railing on Insiders has value for this sommunity but for the most part does not reach the right ears at Marriott. Correcting a sitiuation as soon as it happens can do wonders, but sometimes we have to wait. As for the difference between paying and staying with points I certainly hope there is no difference!
I believe that it is because only people at one end or another of the satisfaction spectrum feel compeled to post a comment. If they have an unexpectedly pleasant experience such as a suite upgrade or a poor one such as a bad view, dirty room, etc., they are motivated to post. Also, as a recent Platnium member (3 years) and not a true "road warrior" I get the feel of a sense of entitlment from many posters that they should be treated better than other customers to the extent of excluding "lesser" clients (ex the ongoing CL debat). The goal of Marriott should be that every customer feels that they have recieved special treatment.
Shoeman and others:
A very thought-provoking post - particularly as I certainly do not have your experience of this site. A few reactions.
1. Is it true? Could it be shown that there has been a significant increase in the incidence and/or proportion of negative posts on this Site? Or are we looking at a case of "selective perception" - that is, the tendency of many people to observe those things about which they are most concerned, or in which they are most interested, at any particular moment in time or space? A bit of both, perhaps?
2. If so, why? Suppose for moment that the observation is at least partly true... Why might this be? Could it be a reflection of another attested fact - that in "hard times" people are more likely to seek fair, or better, value for money, and that if this is perceived not to be forthcoming, they will complain longer, harder and probably more often. Equally, could it be that, under the same circumstances, unending pressure on margins will inevitably filter its way into less costly standards of quality and performance? Again, some of both, perhaps.
3. Site Image? Is it possible that an increase in negative posts is both a cause and consequence of a wider, and growing, negative Site image. For whatever reason, visitors increasingly see that main purpose of visiting the site as being to criticise or complain - this, despite the fact that these are not its primary, stated purposes; that, as SS and others have stressed, this is likely to be a much less effective method of resolution than direct contact with hotel management; and lastly (I fear) that such expressions are unlikely to trigger a constructive reaction - or indeed, in many cases, any reaction at all - from the staff of this Site (See below).
4. "Cynical Brits". Well yes, I have to concede... there is case history to suggest that, where there is nothing in the world but joy, success and happiness, we Brits will find something to complain about, or to discredit. Yet, in my darker moments, I confess to wondering whether this site is nothing more (or less) than what the French call a Trompe L'oeil - (a) an elaborate, clever source of free marketing, sales and PR input to Marriott Intl's business development and/or (b) a safety valve for complainants whom otherwise would clog up the Customer Relations team's data bases. In buying into the Site's dream of a "Community of Interest", am I, in fact, doing little more than advancing the material interests of Marriott shareholders and contributing to the bonuses of senior executives.
5. Way forward. For me, the critical test of this website is the generation of tangible outcomes. There are some, I'm sure; people do get useful information and helpful advice; and others too gain some relief from otherwise dangerously high levels of blood pressure. But the central problem (for me)remains a point to which SS and others have alluded - the lack of effective and consistent follow-through on big issues, with inconsistent application of procedures and rules being but one example, from either the Insider team itself (though I appreciate that its powers are limited and that they might wish it otherwise) or from teams elsewhere in Marriott Intl which have a clear remit to provide, where possible, a constructive response.
I don't travel a lot but have done one 3 night business trip 2 weeks ago and am currently on a 2 night family reunion trip. The Renassance we were in for the second year was chosen again for an annual meeting because of the great service and catering last year. They seemed understaffed and the food was not up to the same standard. The resturant was very slow. The Residence Inn where we have about 50 people now does not have enough towels to stock the room or pool. They closed the breakfast a little early after running out of most supplies. I had to get a rag and bus a table to get a clean one, and had to ask for forks, syrup and other items. I would think that they would be used to weekend rushes during the later part of the breakfast time. Not sure why they don't have towels. I know the industry is stressed but dropping service won't build business.
Thanks for your post. You would seem to bear out my observation. I also get the impression that you are not a chronic "whiner" and that your observation is simply that which you experienced. Frankly, I have tries Residence Inn a handfull of times, and will never go back. I found them unclean, worn out, in bad locations, and the only positives were spacious rooms and kitchens. That said, they are not my cup of tea, but obviously, many others enjoy them. To each his own.....
Dear Arkwright, you have focused on the core issues with any site like this. There are anonymity issues in any Internet chat rooms (such as this) that haunt us all, especially the issue of veracity that you've mentioned.
I take it on faith that an Insider poster is telling the truth, which is perhaps a bad assumption to make. From my working years in research I have been constantrly impressed with ability of subordinates to please me with their ingenuity, but also wary of results that appear too good to be true! For the most part people are honest though they tend to have enhanced memories of bad times (and good for that matter).
But let's assume there is a core of truth in all posts, which is my hypothesis. We're a self-regulating group (at least we have been) and outliers tend to be less and less able or willing to post (I have been guilty of posting radical and unpopular ideas here as many will attest).
I suppose the Insiders group will grow and shrink, new voices will appear, and negative as well as positive ideas and experiences will surface, and we'll all get to know each other better.
Marriott does check occasionally when alerted to an issue, and at times take action based on suggestions (rollover nights are one example).
I think it is unfortunate that you begin with the premise that you cannot always believe what you read on the internet. Even though you follow that with the idea that you give posters the benefit of the doubt, the die was cast with your initial statement. Seems to me, that many of the MR member status folks would have little axe to grind and would only be posting because of their deep disappointment. I do not think it is for any of us to judge the veracity of the poster. Just my opinion.
Oh dear... Shoeman and SS: please accept my apologies for some sloppy drafting which has succeeded in confusing the question I was trying to ask. My concern was not that the negative posts to which Shoeman refers might not be true - in the less of being less than entirely expressions of a particular issue. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I'm more than happy to take them at face value.
My interest was a much less profound one - whether the "negative posts were sufficient in their incidence and rate to represent a permanent (i.e. statistically significant) trend, or whether they were better understand at this stage solely as a temporary variation from the norm - which may or may not be reversed in due course.
Apologies to all concerned for the confusion and irritation I may have caused.
"My concern was not that the negative posts to which Shoeman refers might not be true - in the less of being less than entirely expressions of a particular issue. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I'm more than happy to take them at face value."
Interesting comment since you questioned my post about the number of franchised Marriott properties v. company owned. Then when I posted the reference for you, you must have been too busy eating crow (or maybe having another pint) to acknowledge.