Lost Theories

Marriott's "Gracious" Service

Marriott_ren_cenFor about a year now, I've made business trips to Detroit, MI, on almost a weekly basis. When I'm there, I try to stay at the Marriott Renaissance Center, because of its close proximity to the office and client.

The Detroit Marriott is a decent enough spot...it's known for having occasional mixups (like missing ethernet cables, or assigning you to an occupied room), but most nights I know I can roll upstairs after a long day and collapse in a reasonably clean room.

And while I don't expect the type of white glove treatment from Marriott that I would from, say, the Ritz-Carlton, I do expect an honest, straight-forward business transaction with them when I plunk down my American Express card.

On a recent ride up the Marriott elevator, I took the time to scan the copy on the small paper envelope which holds the room key card. This is something every guest receives, but I wonder how many have read the fine print.

On the cover, it reads "Welcome. Marriott Rewards. Elite Member. Thank you for your loyalty." Great, they've recognized that I have "status" with them, thanks to my many business trips out there. On the inside, there is a welcome message from Bill Marriott, Chairman and CEO, which speaks to the "tradition of gracious service" and "sincere commitment to helping you make the most of your travel opportunities." Nice...I'm envisioning a crowd of helpful staff, just waiting to assist me.

But then...at the bottom of the inside cover, in a font smaller than all the rest, is the following statement:

"I have requested weekday delivery of USA Today and reservation of the Wall Street Journal. If refused, a credit of 75 cents and/or 50 cents, respectively, will be applied to my account. Please call the front desk or check here to refuse (please drop off at front desk during your stay.)"

Am I the last traveler - business or otherwise - to realize that the nifty newspapers they leave outside the door each morning are not complimentary?! Newspapers that are faithfully delivered despite never being requested...ones that I (and I'd wager, many others) rarely even read?

It seems to me that if Marriott wanted to follow a truly customer-centric way of doing business, they would not require patrons to opt-out of this newspaper delivery service. Instead, they would ask upon arrival if you wish to receive the service, and inform you of the additional cost.

I realize it's not a lot of money, but seemingly deceptive practices like this can really damage a brand. It's hard to accept Marriott's self-proclaimed "spirit to serve" when you see practices like this in action.


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