Marriott has really stepped in it lately. There has been a slew of negative customer feedback that seemingly goes unanswered while Marriott attempts to woo “social media influencers with free trips to Hong Kong. Meanwhile, loyal elites are having to fight for basic elite benefits, award inventory is getting restricted, and Marriott’s social media team is constantly failing at addressing customer complaints. Customers are so upset that the term “Bonvoy” has become a derogatory verb to describe the experience of being a Marriott customer.
1. Address the problem(s)
Instead of focusing on how things appear (via influencer trips), Marriott needs to start listening to what customers are saying. Especially their elite members. Right now, Marriott elites have every incentive possible to jump to Hyatt or Hilton Honors. Both programs offer amazing hotels around the world, reasonable redemption rates, generous elite perks, and the ability to earn status via credit card spending. Losing elites to another brand post-merger? Not ideal. Listen to what all guests (elite and non-elite alike) are saying and address those issues. Marriott’s communication with guests has been incredibly poor so far and the single biggest cause of discontent.
2. Improve communication
Speaking of which, let’s dive into this communication issue again. I’m referring to the way Marriott Bonvoy communicates not only with members, but hotels and the public. It’s been pretty disastrous so far. Some former Starwood hotels have been slacking when it comes to elite benefits, primarily out of a lack of understanding. That makes me think Marriott is just not communicating the Bonvoy program to its new hotels very well. This should be addressed immediately. It’s understandable that communication would become more difficult as the two hotel chains merged, but Marriott has had plenty of time to come up with a plan. Touch base with your customers: A simple email apologizing for recent issues and assuring customers that Marriott is going to address these issues will go a long way. More importantly, be more responsive to customer complaints.
3. Fix technical issues
I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t see a complaint on my Twitter feed about some technical issue Marriott has yet to fix. Whether it’s missing points, stay credits, or incorrect elite status appearing on members’ dashboards, Marriott has a lot of technical issues to fix. Now that the brand is launched and all the fancy promotional materials sent out, the company should make a renewed effort to get these technical glitches on their website (and overall system) figured out. And make an effort to avoid another data breach.
4. Reconsider inflated award charts
Marriott Bonvoy’s award chart is pretty inflated. The need for peak season pricing isn’t too outrageous, but the rates are. And customers aren’t into it. Luckily, with so many Marriott elites fleeing greener pastures, Marriott might eventually realize its mistake and reduce redemption rates to a more reasonable level. Or, at the very least, remove peak season pricing.
Overall, Marriott Bonvoy has had a disastrous launch. The company’s communication (via social media and otherwise) has been awful. Elite members are already turning towards other rewards programs to give their business to. If Marriott doesn’t make an effort to address some of the ongoing issues and convey that to their members, they’re going to lose a lot of them. Get a better communication plan going, address your technical issues, and give your customers something to be excited about, other than an Entertainment 720-centric promotional video.
What are some of your biggest gripes with the new Marriott Bonvoy program?
[Image Source: Wikimedia/ Sengkang]