At a media event in New York, Julius Robinson, chief sales and marketing officer, U.S. and Canada for Marriott International, stated that the conversation regarding service issues, staffing and other hotel guest concerns “is mostly behind us.”
The Exchange, a convention where top clients from the corporate and association industries gather, provided the backdrop for the occasion.
According to Robinson, most brand standards for food and beverage outlets have returned to normal in terms of keeping them open during regular hours.
He said that housekeeping had returned to all of the company’s brands, but it may include a modified version.
According to Robinson, this enhanced version allows a housekeeper to “tidy” while just renewing what is essential. Many visitors, according to him, prefer that housekeepers spend less time in their rooms.
According to Robinson, general managers have informed the company’s executives that hotels typically are only 90 per cent staffed but that they can make do with 80 to 85 per cent.
Robinson added that luxury hotels have full housekeeping as in the past, with premium level properties seeing daily attention and Marriott Select (limited service) properties being cleaned every other day. Furthermore, he added, cleaning may be tailored to suit individual consumer needs.
In response to a recent J.D. Power survey showing hotel guest satisfaction declining this year against 2021, Drew Pinto, global officer, global sales, distribution and revenue management, said the time frame of the survey is “lagging” and reflected issues that had been happening months ago.
According to him, there was a time when visitors were paying high prices but not receiving services and watching food and beverage establishments close. But, according to him, Marriott has employed one strategy: ensuring members of its Bonvoy reward program receive “elite recognition” while on the property.
Pinto said that the business is working to enhance pre-arrival messaging so visitors know what to anticipate when they arrive, such as whether a restaurant will be closed. In addition, he noted that many of the team members might not be new to Marriott but might be in new positions.
For those affected, that has meant lengthy training that won’t provide results immediately. However, he claimed that summer internal guest satisfaction scores are already higher than usual.
Technology, according to Pinto, will be essential to raising service standards. Mobile check-in capabilities, he claimed, “will complement what we do at the hotels.” For a better experience, Robinson said the business encourages all consumers to download the Bonvoy app. He said the technology provides users options and selections they would not have had otherwise.
And while hotels have mostly been spared the negative publicity associated with airlines, in some regions, expensive airfares have become a problem in terms of being able to host events.
According to Pinto, Marriott is trying to collaborate with consumers to find a solution. Regarding gas costs, he said that the company had not noticed a significant impact on sales in drive-to areas like Las Vegas. People want to leave their homes after “sitting in them for two years,” he claimed. The American traveler, according to Robinson, “is everywhere, with significant increases being seen in Europe.”
Additionally, Pinto said that “the power of travel advisors continues.” He noted that many consumers turned to advisers during the epidemic and that Marriott has “great relationships” with advisor networks.
Despite the company’s rapidly expanding digital channels, he claimed that many clients still choose to see consultants and that “we can see why.” According to Pinto, these customers have several inquiries about what is open, what services are offered, and other topics. “There is a unique role for travel advisors,” he said.
And Robinson said that as consumers return, they are “looking for bucket list moments, so they are leveraging the power of travel advisors to get the inside scoop.” He said the company has seen many individuals, couples, and close friends investing in lifetime experiences,” and advisors are critical to that.” He noted that metrics in internal Marriott programs aimed at the trade are all up, “which shows how important this channel is to our business.”
Overall, said Robinson, “the mood is very exciting.” However, he said there are still customers skittish about getting out, and Marriott has adjusted so it could “bring customers along with it.” As an organization, he said, Marriott has evolved from “it’s safe to go back out” to “how are we adjusting and adapting to a very diverse customer base?”
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