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Sunday, August 10, 2008

How to run a hotel very well

I’ve stayed in many hotels in my life, mainly because I was a traveling consultant for several years. As a frequent hotel stayer, I know what I like and what I don’t. I’m a huge fan of Marriott hotels - Residence Inns, in particular. I stayed in one for over a year while on a consulting project in Salt Lake City. Recently we went to San Diego and stayed in the Residence Inn there as well.

Marriott was started in 1927 by J. Willard Marriott and his wife Alice. Marriott brands each of its hotels, and they offer something for everyone. There are several things which their Residents Inn brand, in particular, does very well, and I’d like to highlight these things based on my experiences.

  1. Room size is good for a family. I have two young girls who need to take a couple naps during the day, so I need to have space for them to nap while I do other things. The two bedroom suite we stayed in allowed us to close the door to give the kids napping privacy. Additionally, each room has a full kitchen and pots and pans and dishes to use, giving you the freedom to make your own food if you want. They have lots of BBQ grills located throughout the grounds as well, so you can even cook a steak if you prefer. I’m also like the Princess and the Pea when it comes to mattresses, and I’ve never had any sort of stiff neck or backache when I have stayed at a Marriott, and this is big for me.

  2. Laundry facility on site. This was so helpful to us as we stayed several days and needed to wash our own clothes. Many hotels offer laundry services where it’s ten bucks to wash your underwear, but I prefer to do my own where I can do the entire load for two bucks. I think the commonality between the first and second points is they offer lots of OPTIONS.

  3. They shop for your groceries, saving you time. I’ve never used this service, but it’s available and free for those who are interested and don’t have time to do it themselves. Nice perk when you’re on vacation or working all day.

  4. Offers a sense of community – The desk people know who you are if you stay a few days, and while staying there I met lots of other vacationers who I ate breakfast with every day. My daughter fell off the bed while I was in San Diego, my husband had gone out to run an errand and had taken the car, and I didn’t know what to do. I immediately went to the front desk and they calmed us down, offering us juice and called a cab for me to take her to the urgent care facility. They couldn’t have been kinder to us.

  5. Breakfast buffet every morning is complimentary, and Complimentary happy hour and food during the week. This is wonderful for families or even business people who don’t want to be nickled and dimed while on vacation. It offers a nice alternative to spending lots of money at a restaurant, and their breakfast buffett offers everything you can imagine or want – from juices to waffles, eggs, sausage, pancakes, cereals, and fresh fruit.

  6. Bill Marriott has a blog on the Marriott website that allows comments. Since Marriott has become such a big corporation, it could mean the owners are not approachable. However, by including a blog on their website, you know you are being heard and the management seems human.

  7. Marriott guarantees the cheapest price on their website. I don’t have to go to a bunch of other discount sites to try to get the best deal. I hate that, and never understood why the company wouldn’t directly offer the best rate.

  8. They welcomed me with a bag of chocolates and a special key that said I was a preferred member. I felt so special. And it cost them a quarter.

I think several Marriott Residence Inn hotel’s strengths can be applied to other businesses as well - a friendly blog can help create a humanity to any business, guaranteeing the cheapest prices on your products from your own website, and making your customers feel special, are all close to free and can bring in extra revenue.


ALF said...

I love hotels where the blankets aren't scary.

Mommy Meryl said...

Okay - I hope you get a credit for your next stay! I too love Residence Inns - great post!