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Marriott…Setting the Bar for Customer Service

Last week I was in Philadelphia for a conference and I stayed at the Marriott Downtown.  I highly recommend the Marriott and let me tell you why.

Standing in line to check in with several other guests, the Marriott has a well-dressed man with excellent communication skills telling people which spot at check-in to go to.  He was very professional.  I asked him if I should have gone to the Elite line and he commented that I should stay right where I was as it would be much faster and…I was the next in line (He quickly assessed the situation and informed me of the quickest and easiest way to check in….to him it was effortless).

After checking in I searched for the elevator to get me to my room. Naturally I asked a young lady at the concierge desk and she didn’t just point to the location of the elevators, she came out from behind the desk and walked with me part way so that the elevators were visible. (She made every effort to make sure that I was comfortable in these new surroundings and felt at home…to her it was effortless).

John at MarriottJohn at their free coin counting machine

I went up to the room and put my clothes away and then returned to the ground level as I was visiting my bank, Republic Bank, which I was told was only a few blocks away.   

Upon leaving the elevator I asked a well dressed gentleman that I assumed worked for the Marriott, if he knew which direction I should go to get to Market Street.  He walked me out of the hotel and down the street about 75 feet so that I knew exactly where I was going.  I thanked him and asked what his position was at the hotel.  He said, “I am Bob the General Manager.”  (it was second nature to make a guest feel at home and to him it was effortless)

John and Marriott General Manager
Bob Allen, General Manager Marriott Downtown and John Tschohl

Last year Marriott International netted $571 million in profits, almost triple its 2011 figure, on $11.8 billion in revenue—even though it doesn’t own hotels (of the 3,800 properties under its control, it holds title to just 10).  Marriott International sells nothing tangible.  Its only product is customer service.  It charges others handsomely for this asset; at least 3% of a hotel’s sales, plus 25% of profits. The company can get away with this because its revenue generated per room, the definitive measure of a hotel, beats most of its competition, in every segment.

Virtually all of Marriott’s 3,800 hotels—a portfolio worth some $150 billion,—are now owned by REITs, private equity firms, or big investors.

Today 43% of Marriott’s hotel rooms are managed by Marriott and 54% are franchised.

Marriott International’s management agreements lock up hotel owners for as long as 50 years.  In 2012 Marriott’s revenue from managed hotels was $813 million, with $581 million in top-line fees and $232 million in incentive fees.  Marriott franchisees pay the company 5% to 8% of their room revenue and about 3% of their food and beverage sales.  All told, franchise fees amounted to 607 million in 2012. It employs 200,000 hotel workers.

From the top on down, they have instilled customer service into everyone that works there. Consistency is the lifeblood of great branding, and to that end Marriott has taken something as seemingly simple as tidying up a hotel room in under 30 minutes and turned it into an exact science.  Check that the alarm clock works and that it is set to the correct time.  Make sure the alarm is off.

Before leaving, check the drapes to ensure they are in good shape and in proper position.  Make sure the carpets and their edges are vacuumed and free of spots and tears.  Tops of pictures must be dust-free as should be the ice buckets and windowsills.  Check that the thermostat works and is set properly and that the room has a neutral odor.

Marriott International business model concentrates on its core strength: customer service. Marriott has a statement that is part of their mission and it is… “To make your every event and stay with us unforgettable and effortless.”

They took care of me every step of the way from the first minute I stepped in the door.  They have set the bar for excellence in my eyes.

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