As a kid, in the last century, shopping with my Mom, I recall her being drawn to a vegetable display in the little market, advertising Brussels Sprouts with a sign that read "last of the season, hurry, buy now." Neither of us liked these green golf ball-sized veggies , but Mom was irreversibly drawn to them because of that marketing ploy on the part of the grocer. We later ate them for what seemed a month, trying hard to appreciate the bargain while stomaching these little things..
So, now to hotel loyalty programs, and there is a point here: The issue for me, and I assume others, is that the product behind the program has to be a good one, one that we would choose even if there were no promotions or benefits behind it. I would, for example, choose lovely and salty potato chips, even if there were no special deals--and of course there is no "season" to worry about.
The pulse on Marriott Rewards Insiders seems to be that many US hotels are disappointing us, and not just because we're frequent stayers. The threads about closed CLs, lack of weekend breakfasts, and lack of upgrades point to a diminishing sense of value among many Marriott brands. While this is not an accurate sample of all those who stay, but those who care to comment, it speaks to a need to make Marriott and Marriott Rewards great again.
So, I guess what I am getting at, is that a brand needs to be something we choose for any number of reasons, including inertia. If that brand seems less than what we expect or expected, then we have the choice to move elsewhere. Unlike airlines, we have many lodging choices--and we can exercise them.
My question is: at what point does the loyalty program become almost irrelevant if the brand behind it fails to meet our needs?
Remember those Brussels Sprouts!
Well, I like Brussels Sprouts. Really. And yes, my mom did too. Noit sure what that has to do with this thread, just thought I would throw it in....
For me, the Loyalty Program will never become irrelevant as long as Marriott keeps it valuable in the eyes of it's members. In fact, I would suggest that the Loyalty Program insulates the product from whims of the consumer or occasional disappointments. To me, that IS the great value of the programs for the companies that have them. Yes, continued disappointments, a consistent trend downward in customer service, obvious disrepair of the property, etc. will trip the Loyalty Program's pull, but not the occasional disappointment. In fact, I would suggest that strengthening the Loyalty Program would be in Marriotts best interest. Let's all hope the day doesn't come that Marriott feels the Loyalty Program has lost it's value to them, they will put an end to it in a New York minute if that ever happens.
I'm not sure how this relates to this issue, but have you ever noticed upon checkin how the 'elite' line is always much shorter than the normal checkin line? This would seem to suggest to me that to many travelers, the Loyalty Program has always been irrelevant. go figure.
Not sure about the sheep thing. Tend to keep my distance there. Ground pork, with some kind of seasonings, not sure exactly what, made like meatballs, cooked in the oven, with some kind of pineapple flavored glaze. That's the extent of my cooking knowledge. Mighty good though!
I think that with loyalty programs the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.....
My expectations of a loyalty program from Marriott are multi faceted. There are the hotel stays. I never ask for an upgrade as it's not my style and when I get one I'm very appreciative. I do expect a certain 'decorum' with the properties that needs to fulfill my desires. Shoeman mentions a downward trend in cutomer service and an obvious disrepair in certain properties that are part of it. I also look for control in a CL and at least a 'thanks' from people I deal with who know that I am Platinum. After all, even if they don't recognize me as a Platinum, I still thank them for their effort when going thru the check-in/out process. It's the least they could do for me is a thanks. Some laces don't. I look at training as a serious issue. I look at the apparent decline in program perks with despair.
But, I also own Marriott timeshare and my loyalty expectations there are different than a hotel stay. Marriott manages the money I give them for the upkeep of the properties and my expectation is that I will not only have good service at those properties but that my investment will be properly managed money wise...because when it isn't I pay for it. The timeshare group have seriously undercut my expectations in this regard. They throw money away without regard to who is shelling it out. My stay last year at my timeshare home found me in a room that was being 're-furbished' in less than a month, but yet there was not a scratch on the furnishings, a blemish on the carpets....to sum up, the place was pristine. But, their response to why they would be tearing down a perfectly good room and re-doing it was that they didn't have the 'staff' to manage that closely. How stupid and what a waste of money.
Anyway, enough of my ranting. The bottom line for me is that Marriott properties need to be 'on top' of their game in every aspect and need to recognize that loyalty can be fleeting when expectations are not met. I will be loyal until they tell me not to be. It's their choice. Loyalty programs aren't going away as too many competitors will eat the lunch of one who discontinues it. But what they don't realize is that frequent stayers, the loyal ones, are usually the ones who notice the decline in program benefits and services. Isn't that the wrong group to offend with petty changes?
Now...back to those brussel sprouts....
I too like BS (Brussel Sprouts). The other night, I think it was the meal at L'Auberge in Sedona, they served them not whole, but chopped with a little bacon and they were the best ever. Sure there was some butter involved, but it was great.
Likewise, Marriott still treats me better than any of the others.