I don't think all the recent negative posts are the sudden desire of elite members to be unpleasant. I think there's more to it and like all of you, I've been trying to get to the core of why so many of us as MR Elites are so displeased over the past few months.
One observation that is pertinent: After April 2010, we were almost ALL displeased as Insiders at the change in the website. So for many months if not a year, that was our main subject of discussion.
What I have noticed recently is that few people are complaining about the website. Instead, they are complaining about Marriott hotels and resorts at all levels that are delivering differently than they did in the past. Or they are not delivering at all (re: newspapers).
As my title indicates this could be the result of four possibilities, management, decisions, communications and training, most of which seem unlikely for a medieval history professor to address. But I have to manage my courses, research and writing so that all are successful. In the process, I have to make tough decisions about assignments, students with disabilities (or not), dealing with higher management at my college, communicating expectations, and trying (but usually failing to answer) the inevitable question of 'why did I get a B?'
Training was of course the first thing I ever went through as a would-be professor. Nine years of graduate school at slave labor salary (tuition paid, but $2000-3000 a year to live on) while I also worked several jobs made me efficient. So it worked out. But now I'm on the other side, not only in management and decisions when we hire new faculty, but in training my students in whatever endeavor they choose and helping them communicate with grad schools, law schools, or future employers. While I love it when I get the occasional medieval history student who is both good enough and qualified enough to go to grad school -- four in recent years! :) -- I recognize that most of my students will not follow that path. But what I can teach them are the skills they will need to succeed in whatever career choice they pursue.
So I train them to learn the basics of any craft or job: writing well, analyzing problems, communicating about issues and finding solutions. Right now, Marriott probably needs to write to its hotels to tell them to get their act together and be consistent in their offerings, make decisions about what the future will be, how it will affect us, and communicate it to those of us who are the most loyal members -- and others as well -- while at the same time training in the old but inspired Spirit and Serve model recently brought up by SteppingStones.
My point is, while we are all in various different careers, in some senses we do many of the same things. I think just like I learned to do my job well, Marriotts may need to refocus on the basics of management, training, decision-making and communication.
Good post Prof...Something has gone wrong with Marriotts service and recognition of their elite members over the past year. Too many unsatisfied elite members which has a lot to do with inadequate staff training. I have stayed more at Hyatt's and SPG properties recently and have to report that their service standards have topped Marriotts, particularly in thier treatment of their loyal cusomers. I am hoping that Marriott turns things around and becomes the Marriott that we all cherished in the past. Could be that it is so easy to become Platinum any more that the status does not hold the prestige that it once did.
I could not agree more. The Elite program has been watered down and no longer is a truly "elite" level. The only way to remedy the situation is to develop the "plutonium" level that has been discussed in prior posts. Educating and re-training the employees will help, but if the programs terms and conditions get watered down further, training will not have much affect on our satisfaction or lack thereof.
Regarding the dissatisfaction of the website, I am still very unhappy with the performance I get out of it. However, nothing can keep my interest as long as this has gone on and I have just gotten over it. Marriott showed NO INTEREST in fixing the problem, so I moved on to bigger and better issues.
are you suggesting that a few disgruntled parties sending emails will get Marriott to change their terms and conditions to a more favorable position on things? I would think the ONLY reson they might consider doing so would be to maintain a competitive balance.
agreed. I do not see them (or anyone else) discontinuing their loyalty program unless all their competitors agree to jump into the water at the same time. It would be a publicity disaster for a company to take the plunge. They will simply continue to dilute the programs slowly but surely.
Very true Shoeman--bringing folks to the front desk in a hotel depends on many factors, only one of which is a loyalty program.
Much of what we see today in the private sector is reflective of lodging as a sector: proifits are returning, demand seems to be rising as are prices, and services are dwindling. Companies like Marriott see the need to economize--in other words to do more with fewer associates. Thus we suffer, IMHO.
There are many reasons for the disgruntled. For me, it is the "watering down" of status that is beginning to take its tolls. If fewer people were to make Platinum, I believe getting a suite upgrade under any circumstances would be highly more likely. Jasper said it well: Could be that it is so easy to become Platinum any more that the status does not hold the prestige that it once did.
Shoeman is right-on: The only way to remedy the situation is to develop the "plutonium" level that has been discussed in prior posts.
I have to agree with SS and his observation: Companies like Marriott see the need to economize--in other words to do more with fewer associates. However, as any reasonably intelligent person knows, trying to do more with less is fine - up to a point. Look what happened to the airlines - now everyone grumbles about air travel with the exception of Southwest (they didn't change policies during the economic downturn and have consistently remained #1 in customer satisfaction).
As Southwest is the "diamond in the rough", so too must be another hotel chain. Since I have Lifetime Platinum (and likely already renewed at PP for next year), I am going to see if the grass is greener on the other side. In fact, I sent an e-mail yesterday to Hilton Honors to see if I can get a second-time match in status (last time was 6-7 years ago and stayed 160+ nights that year). If HH comes through, I am about to book my next 300 nights at one of their properties (I have an 18-month contract in Columbus, OH) despite a corporate rate at the downtown Renaisance of $99 a night.
I'll follow-up on this post when I hear from HH and then again in about 18 months.
Hi everybody – Michelle here. Hope you’re surviving this most interesting summer - weather, politics – just crazy! The recent conversation about your on-property experiences has given us pause; partly because we always take negative criticism seriously and partly because we’re glad to be addressing an issue you are so passionate about.
First of all, people beyond Andy do read your comments. We also search this community for insights on a regular basis. Negative or positive – you want us to know about your experience as an Elite member, and there’s no better way for us to learn what the program means to you. You directly cause conversations to occur here at Corporate, and you influence our decisions relative to what we can do to earn your loyalty.
Earlier this year, Marriott Rewards launched a massive multi-media, global training program – complete with testing and certification. Since March, over 90,000 certificates have been issued worldwide. To compliment that effort, we’ve reorganized to focus much more energy against our on-property execution of the Elite experience across all brands. The first year has been about engaging our associates and building awareness of the available training. Next year we’ll begin the mandatory bit by driving compliance via our internal QA process. We’re also in the process of translating our training and learning tools into Spanish and Chinese, with additional languages in the queue. If you would like to take a peek at our training, we would be delighted to share it with you.
In collaboration with our continental leadership in the America’s, we’ve instituted a mystery shopping exercise specifically aimed at the Elite arrival experience. We receive great feedback along with pictures (remember when we asked for your pictures of Elite arrival gifts? Even though the contest is over, I’d still love to receive them!) which allows us to interact with the properties in real-time using specific examples…both good and bad.
We’ve launched ‘Elite Week’ this year -- contest we’re running globally to capture great best practices and encourage competition among our properties. It’s all about bringing the relationship with our Elite members to life. This is the first time we’ve launched this type of activity and it’s been a great success. If all goes well, we’ll do it again next year and are thinking up ways to involve you in the activity as well!
One measure of the impact of the training, shopping and contests are the trending reports fed by Guest Satisfaction Surveys completed by Elite members. Year-to-date, members are telling us that their on-property Elite experience is improving in all brands, managed and franchised, with scores up from 1.6 to 3 points. This is a directional perspective, however we do scour verbatim in this tool for insight as well.
We are mindful of our shortcomings and want to live up to your expectations. If you have an experience that illuminates your pain point and can be a bit more specific about what’s irritating you, we’ll be better able to address the concern. For immediate help, the Customer Care team is always available at customer.care@Marriott.com or 800-450-4442(24 hours/7 days per week). We track everything that comes through their channel too.
Thank you so very much for your feedback – we’re grateful for this community.
Sounds great Michele...I'd love some insight into the training that is being offered. The consistency of elite member treatment is a big concern for me...and I think making the hotels competitive, in a fun way, against each otehr is a great idea. It will remind management of the constant need for training. Its amazing how well some hotels get it, and other are so bad. PLEASE PASS THIS TRAINING ONTO ALL LEVELS AT THE RI TREASURE ISLAND..they need it!!
Also, I love the plutonium idea:) Platinum really dies feel watered down.
Greetings to all,
Just returned from London, Spain, and then Turkey! Only leveraged Marriott points in London but it sure helped. I have been a loyalista through many company travel policies that excluded Marriott and I am now faced with a stricter TE mandate. In the past, I would ignore it yet this time around, after staying with other hotel groups, I might actually consider it. I am a couple of years shy of "lifetime" but at the end of the day don't see it as that important anymore. Too many times in the past two years I felt like just another business guy without anything more than a bag of peanuts and water. I don't feel like a demanding person and quietly go to my un-upgraded room without complaint.
My wife and I stayed at the Residence Inn Fort Lauderdale Pompano Beach/Oceanfront property last night. One of my worst experiences with Marriot.. Arrived around 8pm and put in a room that was moldy and smelly. When we arrived the air conditioning was off and we had to wait awhile for the room to cool down. That lasted about an hour or so and our eyes started watering so we told the Marriott Front Desk Representative that we had to change rooms. Unfortunately, the hotel was slow in moving us and we finally got settled in around 10:30 pm or so. By the way, I was never offered an amenity or points, and to make matters worse, no apology or greeting as a Platinum Member. I did threaten to move to another Marriott Property, but at 10:30pm my wife was in no mood to move so we stayed. When I got up the next morning, I decided to place a call to Marriott Member services and realized that the phones in the room were not working and I used my cell phone to call. When I reached customer service, I felt like they were finding excuses for the hotel staff rather than focusing on the issues I raised.
As a sidenote, I did request a room upgrade, but was told although there were many rooms available, none of them were cleaned. I challenged the front desk employee about having appropriate staff to clean rooms once they were vacated. He only made excuses that Platinum member extended their stays and there was no staff to clean the rooms.
I will never never never stay at this hotel again, even though I did finally get a phone call from one of their Manager's offering me a room upgrade if I came back..I told her that there was nothing they could do to get me back to that property.
Another example of the deterioration of service by Marriott and so much for recognition of being a Life Time Platinum Member.
Guest Satisfaction Surveys?
I havent seen one of these in years. Are they sent out randomly, or can we fill one out online someplace? Ihave asked at several properties for a form to send in and they always say "we don't have them any more".
I am a frequent poster to TripAdvisor because they make surveys easy, and, of course, FlyerTalk. In many cases my experiences with Marriott (good/bad) are worthy of reporting to management but not really important enough to send to the whole world.
I hope your new training is effective because recognition seems to be at an all-time low, especially for Platinum Premiers, who front desk staff just don't seem to know about. I hear them all excited to tell folks "I see you are a Silver Elite, thanks for your business" and then they just ask me if I want points or an amenity (which always seem to be the same as regular Platinums get.
Thank you Michelle and Professor for your excellent posts. I agree with both of you, and appreciate that Marriott is addressing the discussed need for increased training.
RE: The idea of a level above Platinum Elite (eg: "Plutonium"), an increased level above Platinum will not, in my opinion, solve the concerns expressed by some of my fellow insiders. In my opinion, it's just an attempt to achieve an even higher level of "exclusivity." (and as one with, if memory serves, 112 nights already this year, I might just qualify for "Plutonium" if it existed).
The solution is to create a greater distinction between the already existing levels of elite status. For example, Platinum only could be automatically eligible for a free breakfast and evening appetizer even when the Concierge lounge is closed.If a level above Platinum is created, what will eventually happen is that "Plutonium" members will perceive that a "Double Secret Plutonium" level (apologies here to Animal House and their Double Secret Probation!) is needed because of a perceived lack of distinction between their level and Platinum.
I think that the concern that many of my fellow Insiders have is the seeming minimal distinction between Gold and Platinum members. I don't know what percentage of MR members are Platinum, but, if it's a low percentage, perhaps Marriott could, on an annual basis, have a special offer of some sort exclusive to Platinum members, and just make certain that it is truly one that will resonate with us.
All this being said, I don't want this in any way to appear as a post bashing Silver or Gold members, or any of my fellow insiders who, I admit, have some reasonable concerns about the distinction between Gold and Platinum status. I think Michelle's post shows that Marriott corporate is listening to us.
And finally (and I'm sure some of you are saying, thank heaven) some of the posts I've seen about switching to Hilton - I'm a member of Hilton Honors, and they have even offered to make me a member of their level equivalent to Platinum - just don't resonate with me. I must be getting old, but I'm just enough of a stuffed shirt, prude, whatever you want to call it, to not want to do anything that encourages/supports the lifestyle of someone like Paris Hilton! (There, I've said it, and it feels good!)
I'd like to thank everyone for posting information, I find it interesting.
First of all, I don't think Paris Hilton has anything to do with the hotels anymore. I believe the chain is owned by another group...I do share the sentiments of not wanting her to profit.
I've stayed at Marriott whenever I can for much of my adult life. I do notice that they greet me as platinum when I arrive and that is nice of them. However, I see a bunch of other things that I just don't care for so much. The Marriott I stayed at last night and the night before had air conditioning that was not effective. I was too hot. I suggested to my wife that I would go sleep in the car with the air conditioning turned on. It would have been cooler.
That hotel has some sort of new license plate recognition system, and although I told them I needed parking, I see it not on the bill so I have to call them..not only to pay for the parking fees to which they are entitled (I've done this before) but also to make sure some sort of fine doesn't come through Hertz.
My pepwave internet is working fine in the hotel I was at for the past two nights. It iss also working fine at the Marriott I'm staying in now and worked perfectly in the Hampton Inn, Four Points by Sheraton and Holiday Inn Express I stayed at recently (yes, Marriott, I had to check out the competition, in the places all three of those hotels were in, you don't have a single property! I'll tell you something..the grass is at least as green on the other side and sometimes greener. Residence Inn by Disney in Orlando and Atlanta Downtown Marriott, fix your internet. The new comment my wife and I have about hotels is, "well, it is better than the Atlanta Downtown Marriott"...this has been true of every hotel. Hamption Inn, Four Points, and Holiday Inn express included. Nicer rooms. Better internet. Better service.
The Marriott I'm at tonight does have working air conditioning, but I couldn't dine in their restaurant..fully booked. When you have a hotel in the middle of nowhere, make sure you have the restaurant capacity. True, I could eat in the bar and I did...I had the clubhouse. Not a very descriptive menue, it comes with chips instead of fries..and no mention is made of either on the menu. The salad was crammed on the plate between the chips and sandwiches so it would fit.
So right now, I'm in an upgraded room. I'd hate to see the "normal" rooms if this is the upgraded one. It is comfortable enough, but if it were any smaller, I'd not stay here. It isn't that big. NO CNN, believe it or not! There are other good news channels, so it is no big loss, but I'm surprised...didn't know there were Marriotts in developed countries with no CNN (although other Marriotts in the country do have it!)
Anyways, Marriott...please make sure your internet works in all of your hotels and the air conditioning...for non members, silver, gold, platinum or whatever else. It is a pain when these things don't work.
As promised - here's my follow-up: Hilton Honors came through! While they will not grant Diamond, I did get Gold and a fast-track to Diamond; all I have to do is have 21 paid nights in the next 90 days.
Is the grass greener? Well, let me say this: the front desk welcomed my Gold status, listed all the "perks" of status (free WiFi, free breakfast, two bottles of water daily), put me in my preferred room type, had two bathrobes lying on the bed, immaculately clean, lots of outlets at the computer desk, fridge, and microwave. To top it off, every night has a manager's special (snacks and drinks). It looks like I'll be fast-tracking to Diamond in just over five weeks. In fact, I have already booked the next 90 days at Embassy Suites, all 52 nights.
Lastly, it's not about the money. I spent my first week in Columbus at a CY (rack $129, corp disc $88) and my second week at a Renaissance (rack $199, corp disc $99). At the ES, I am booked at the full rack rate of $139 (goes to $149 in 3 weeks). I will attempt to negotiate a better rate for the next 18 months, because that's what I always do for long-term stays. But I plan to stay here even if I pay full rack rates.
Congratulations! It sounds like it will work out for you. SPG promised me Platinum if I stayed 21 days in the next 90, but that was impossible with my teaching schedule. However, IC, Crowne Plaza and Priority has agreed to match my status as soon as I get home and fax them my recent balance and status sheet.
For me it's not solely or mainly about the recent problems with Marriott (I still will stay at Marriott most of the time), but because there just are no hotels where I am going so much of the time (Toulouse, FR is my next trip and has a Crowne Plaza).
Keep us apprised of how it goes!
Really good set of posts. To add my 2p worth & redress the balance ...
I stayed at the Sprowston Manor Marriott for the first time last night. it was a great experience and the staff could not have been more pleasant and attentive. I arrived late, and without prompting was offered an upgrade to a junior suite. It is a beautiful hotel.
A couple more points, Marriott does not exist solely to cater for elite members, and they have to take other factors into account before creating even more tiers of membership. And I am a lowly Gold elite status member, but appreciate the occasional recognition I get as a result of this. (Maybe I would be a bit more worked up if I had stayed loads of times and was a double platinum)
Finally, our Marriott rewards credit card expired today (in the UK). It is disappointing that Marriott was not able to organise a replacement or extend the old one to give a seamless crossover ... this would not have happened a few years ago