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So a while back, I stayed at the Marriott hotel in Detroit.
I found Detroit really interesting.
Despite being basically a bankrupt city – while I was there, auctioneers were evaluating the value of the exhibits at the local museum – the people were warm, welcoming and friendly.
Anyway, this isn’t about the Motor City, it’s about the Marriott hotel chain, one of the most confused brands I’ve seen in a long time.
On the positive, when I went back to my room at the end of the first day, I found this:
OK, OK, so a couple of cheap chocolates, a crap drawing and a little message scrawled in a 3 year olds handwriting shouldn’t impress me too much, but it was a nice touch.
Admittedly, whether this was a living, breathing example of the brands ‘Leave a trail of genius’ positioning is a matter of opinion, but  I quite like the ‘leave a trail’ thought [even though the ‘genius’ bit is pure corporate ego wank] and  it’s still better service than I got at a very poncy hotel in Beijing recently … where a man woke me up by knocking loudly at my door AT FOUR IN THE MORNING, handed me a bottle of water then fucked off.
So you get the idea the brand is a bit schizophrenic … it has genuinely good intentions to make guests feel a bit loved but it also has delusions of grandeur, and nothing demonstrates that more than this sign that was left in their reception on September 11th:
Now I honestly believe they weren’t trying to exploit the situation … like the crappy note and chocolates, I genuinely think they had good intentions, but in terms of utter inappropriateness and insensitivity, this is one of the crappest things I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Hell, they’re not even full sized muffins!!!
Rather than leaving a trail of genius, I can’t help but feel this leaves a trail of brand destruction … it’s bad, mad and more misguided than Harrison Ford doing the new Expendables movie with Sly Stallone.
So to Marriott Hotels, sort yourselves out.
You are not 5 star but you do make your guests feel a bit cared for when they’re away from home – which is more than most of the 5 star brands manage to pull off – so drop these over-the-top gestures, because it actually works against you rather than for you.
Worse, if you fall into the trap of ‘gesture inflation’, you could end up in a situation where you focus on the ‘news worthiness’ rather than the guest benefit and then all your hard work can disappear in the blink of an eye – like the career of the person at the Marriott that approved this idea.
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