I was interested to read Jasper 100s recent request: "Please Marriott, work on turning the negativity concerning Marriott back to positive."
Reflecting on what, at first reading, strikes a very resonant chord with me, I was nevertheless left with some doubts about its feasibility. Accepting, for purposes of argument, that there is a growing sense of "negativity" about Insiders' contributions, the following questions occurred to me:
1. To what extent is the appearance of negativity a question of balance, or lack of it: is it as much to do with the absence of positive, more widely-based comment as with the profusion of criticism? If this is to any degree the case, the solution lies beyond the resolution of issues about entitlements (even if this were deemed a correct and plausible reponse). MR can only offer Insiders an opportunity; it cannot and should not solicit responses. Nor can it be expected to address other factors - for example, the current "feel-bad" factor in the US and Europe - that might explain part of the shortage of positive comment.
2. Is it fair to suggest that the appearance of negativity is a generalised response across all categories of Insiders, and, beyond that, Marriott customers? My caution here - which will probably get me instantly blackballed - is that the Insiders community is essentially drawn from the USA or perhaps North America. It does not appear to be representative of Marriott's global customer profile. For example, and admittedly from a very personal standpoint, I cannot get to feel as aggrieved about the "upgrade" issue as clearly some of my US fellow members do. It is but one of several criteria I use to rank a hotel - and, in any case, it is a privilege rather than an entitlement. There is, I sense, a cultural issue at play here; Marriott is one of the major US corporations and somehow perhaps US customers feel a greater sense of almost betrayal when things don't quite work as expected. Many decades ago, I believe we Brits (or at least a very privileged few of us) used to feel the same way if a Rolls Royce misbehaved. My point again is that MR cannot not be asked to provide solutions that it is not in its power to deliver, and moreover which not everyone would necessarily agree as being of major importance.
3. To what extent is the recent profusion of negative comments appropriately directed at MR as opposed to the individual sites involved? As this is a point that has been frequently aired, I'll not labour it here, save to suggest that it has an interesting corollary: perhaps if customers took greater responsibility for checking - beforehand - that the details of the booking they were about to make were as they expected, there would be less disappointment and frustration all round.
So what is it, you might very reasonably ask, that we can expect of MR and the MR Insiders staff in improving the our experience of Marriot? My answer is this - and it reflects what I feel to be the major shortcomings of my recent experience of Marriott globally: it should address the issue of inconsistency and uneveness of provision between hotels located within the same category - a problem which, in part, may be related to the differing priorities of Marriott itself and franchised sites.
How might this be achieved? For me, the key consideration is transparent and easily accessible information. Tracking through from an earlier point .... for customers to be expected to take greater responsbility for getting the bookings they want, and to which, most often, they think they are entitled, hotels should provide adequate, up-to-date, accurate and accessible data about what is, and isn't, on offer. Only then can customers make the type of informed decisions that reflect realistic expectations and command shared respect.
Thanks for your patience
-- Edited by Arkwright at Aug 2, 2011 8:18 AM PDT
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Well reasoned comments Arkwright. Excellent post.
I think we are all susceptible to expectation management: the desire to have the same or better experiences when we travel as we did in previous trips. As I reread the Insider posts dealing with Marriott's falling from favor, I saw common themes of not treating the most elite members as elite, with the subtext of past experiences melded in.
In a perfect world every visit to every hotel would be memorable, and each time better than the last. I suppose the chances of that happening are very small, since individual associates (almost by chance) control what happens when we stay at a hotel, starting with checkin experience and for our entire stay.
I would reiterate that Marriott needs to try harder in training its associates to recognize and where possible reward those travelers whose loyalty has earned them top tier status. With many thousands of employees worldwide this is quite a task but one that must be undertaken.
As Deming often said, "the customer defines quality," and recent posts are pointing to a decline. So, rather than bemoan this apprent degradation, let's push (as much as we can) Marriott to realize that there is a growing groundswell of discontent out there, and it is not merely griping but disappointment with an established and respected partner in travel.
Renew the Spirit to Serve, train and retrain associates, make our stays as good as they can be. Worth every penny expended I'd say.
Thanks NHTraveler, on behalf of myself and Arkwright, whose posts inspire all of us.
We can rail against the treatment and the hotel's changing system but unless it's a focused cry it does little good for us to merely cite individual circumstances.
As Professor Ciara points out consistency is what we want but are not getting.
Wow!!! I did not know my comment would result in such a discussion. Interesting though!!! But is clear to me that the negativity has grown on the insiders over the last 6 months or so and was not prevalent previously. Must be a sign of something?-- Edited by Jasper100 at Aug 2, 2011 8:42 PM PDT
Well, I can certainly say that there's a need for consistancy.
The issue I have is when you file a complaint about a particular hotel for not delivering, then customer service punts it back to the manager of that hotel. In my mind, the manager of the hotel is the one responsible for the place being screwed up in the first place, and I would expect a regional or division manager to take care of the complaints.
I recently had a stay at the Downtown Atlanta Marriott and although it wasn't completely horrible, it failed on a great many levels, and I was one unhappy camper. If they hadn't misrepresented their proximity to the GWCC on their website, I in fact would not have even stayed there, so that was my first "issue".
There are other stupid things, like getting my wife some tea using the thermal container in the concierge lounge, and the water is not hot. It turns out they know it doesn't keep the water hot, but rather than fix it or find a different method, they continue to put out the water that's not hot..and countless people come and make tea..find it not hot, and throw it out.
The maids do not replenish suppies correctly. When I call once, that's one thing, but when I am calling for the third time, there is a service failure here.
I wrote rather negative note on this website, which I felt was true in every respect, and it was nuked by a moderator without a word.
Perhaps they could have shown appreciation for the frustration I felt and still feel. Instead, they nuked the post which infuriated an already angry and dissatisfied guest even more.
If I have made over 50 contributions to this site, it stands to reason that I would not have had a rant unless I had good reason to do so.
I have in the past half week stayed in a Hampton Inn, a Sheraton Four points, and a Holiday Inn Express - each of which I would heartily recommend over the Atlanta Downtown Marriott.
Since the Atlanta Downtown Marriott is in a different classification than the other three hotels mentioned, it is evident that Marriott should do some soul searching.
The food, the internet, the television, the comfort and quality of staff was higher in all these hotels than the Marriott downtown Atlanta. The Marriott Houston Airport is ranked even lower, I would compare it to a Day's Inn that's in a bad part of town.
I have booked a Marriott for the next week again.
However, for any of you trigger happy moderators out there, if you nuke this post without at least explaining why, I can absolutely guarantee you that Marriott will not come out ahead.
I am a good guest who pays my bills. However, I just expect the basics to work, such as the internet, television, bathroom, etc. And I do insist that non smoking rules be rigidly enforced.
We appreciate the honest feedback and engaging conversation. I invite you to check out our recent post on the topic of bringing our relationship with Elite members to life.