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The inside scoop on Marriott's epic woes?

The inside scoop on Marriott's epic woes?

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Old Mar 14, 19, 2:25 pm
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The inside scoop on Marriott's epic woes?

This seems plausible, but the 110 million figure for the number of open customer service cases seems rather high.

From Loyalty Lobby:

A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a text that a former Marriott customer service employee had apparently posted on the internet (we have not been independently verify this).

...

Here’s the former employee’s point of view:

I worked for Marriott for a little over 3 years. Marriott had a motto “Take care of the associates and they will take care of the guests.” In April of 2018 Marriott rolled out their new “Service Delivery Module.” At the same time, they stopped taking care of the associates.

Before SDM, there were several departments to contact. Sales, customer care, rewards, etc. Now, no matter who you call, you are getting a sales rep. If you need to get sent to “loyalty” you are getting a sales rep that 3 hours more of copy and paste training. If you get sent to “elite” they had 2 more hours of the same training. And just to add, it was SPG employees leading the training.

An entire new reservation system was forced on us that barely works because Marriott didn’t want to pay Oracle to use the system they had been using before. To add to this, the agents were able to call supervisors that would help them fix things. The supervisors are now ordered not to help.

...

When the changes started in April, agents that had worked there for 20 years were walking out in the middle of their shifts. The company scrambled to hire a bunch of people with less than normal training.

...

I almost left out the best part. The CEO visited a call center for the first time ever two weeks ago. Best of luck travelers. Don’t blame the person on the phone. They are trying.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 2:31 pm
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Hey, some of us have visited a call center and even had breakfast there (the Austin BBQ DO that William organized and the special invitation for SPG Plats to see the place).
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Old Mar 14, 19, 2:40 pm
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Sad, but not surprising at all.

Yesterday, when I finally got through to an agent after 45 mins the agent was clueless and put me on hold and line dropped.

Today, an Elite agent answered (I recognize his name and voice from SPG) and he was helpful but sounded frazzled.

Not sure how the Marriott defenders see the light at the end of tunnel, unless its a very, very long tunnel.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 2:49 pm
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
This seems plausible, but the 110 million figure for the number of open customer service cases seems rather high.
Not really FT members probably account for 100 million of them!!

More seriously however to be fair I have had more customer service cases in the last 12 months with Marriott than I had in the last 12 years with all hotel companies combined! Some of those cases I thought Marriott were just playing a game of ignore and he will forget now I think maybe it is a situation of they have lost so many staff that they cannot keep up. To be fair I had a associate tell me recently they were so far behind and essentially bad agents as they cannot respond in a timely fashion due to sheer volume!
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Old Mar 14, 19, 3:48 pm
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This seems plausible, the call center quality definitely fell off a cliff before the merger in August last year. The call times went up drastically. We also saw people exploiting the situation booking 5 day travel packages despite not meeting the requirements, which seemed odd to me since Marriott appeared to stamp this out some years previously.

I think there is some evidence though that they are trying to respond. For example: My missing stay requests have been processed far faster than the 2 I had to do in 2016-17. My perception is wait times have improved since August last year. This is no where near where they need to be, but evidence of something.

I find it astonishing that the CEO only recently visited a call center for the first time. Hopefully that executive attention will drive better results. In my profession I have had to remediate a situation like this for a line of business in another Fortune 500 firm (although not to this scale). With the right executive backing you can move quite quickly to prioritize the right IT fixes, update processes, rollout better training etc, whilst establishing the A-team to clear the CRM backlog. Hopefully that is already happening or about to happen.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 3:51 pm
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To those on this thread, DO go back & read the full article. There's a lot more detail in there than what hockeyinsider posted. Some rather juicy things too.

I'll echo what others have said -- I've had more problems and more calls / e-mails to customer (dis)service in the past 6 months with Marriott than I've ever had in the past decade with them. I've also been in touch with some VP-level folks at Marriott recently. I get the sense that upper management truly has no idea how bad things really are out here. All they see are RevPAR and other metrics and that's it.

One of the problems with this industry is that there are just too many potential customers. RyanAir, Knight's Inn, etc., all get plenty of "I'll never use this company again" e-mail, but there are plenty of new suckers willing to give them business.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by MrM2016 View Post
With the right executive backing you can move quite quickly to prioritize the right IT fixes, update processes, rollout better training etc, whilst establishing the A-team to clear the CRM backlog. .
Let's say there are, in fact, 110 million customer service cases logged. If Marriott has 500 agents, that's 220,000 cases per agent. If every agent works an unrealistic 365 days per year, they would have to clear 602 cases per day. This is just crazy -- and that's assuming my math -- I flunked math three times in college -- is correct.

You'll need a lot more than "executive backing" to clear the backlog.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:16 pm
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Originally Posted by KRSW View Post
I've also been in touch with some VP-level folks at Marriott recently. I get the sense that upper management truly has no idea how bad things really are out here. All they see are RevPAR and other metrics and that's it.
It would be much easier if Marriott managed most of its properties or, at least, most of its full-service properties, but it doesn't. The vast majority of Marriott's properties across all brands are managed by third parties. This makes quality control, brand compliance, loyalty program compliance -- whatever you want to call it -- more difficult.

Let's not forget that most customers never interact with corporate outside of Marriott's telephone reservations service, Marriott.com and Marriott International-controlled social media channels. The vast majority of customers interact with the third parties that manage properties under license from Marriott.

This means that even if corporate does everything right the opinion many or most customers will have of Marriott International has been shaped by forces outside corporate's control.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
It would be much easier if Marriott managed most of its properties or, at least, most of its full-service properties, but it doesn't. The vast majority of Marriott's properties across all brands are managed by third parties. This makes quality control, brand compliance, loyalty program compliance -- whatever you want to call it -- more difficult.
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I am not sure I fully agree with this, the model you describe above is pretty much how all the hotel companies operate now and it is simply a question of how well Marriott hold those hotels to account. So far my feeling is SPG did it far better than Marriott and Marriott has decided that it wishes to treat the owners as the number 1 rather than the guests of the hotels. There is some logic in this as it makes it more appealing for hotel owners to sign for Marriott but personally I see it as a very short term quick profits option for Marriott. The reason Marriott bought Starwood was because it envied how loyal its customer base was, it is now proceeding to alienate that customer base and drive them elsewhere. I have a great ambassador so I am lucky but overall I find Marriott a very arrogant company and not one I see myself staying with much long term unless there is some serious change from the top down!
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
This means that even if corporate does everything right the opinion many or most customers will have of Marriott International has been shaped by forces outside corporate's control.
Most of my issues have been with corporate, a mixture of IT screw ups and total mishandling of complaints! As with all hotel groups there are various levels of good and bad hotels but the Marriott's (rather than Starwood) properties I have chosen to stay in since the merger I have actually been surprised by how good they are.

Its Marriott who decided the degree requirement to understand what breakfast you may or may not get depending which chain and which geographical location you happen to be in! $10 for a breakfast benifit when the basic breakfast cosst $23 in some hotels still makes me laugh and just feel like it says it all about Marriott at times! They are petty and the top level management just don't get it, luckly some hotels still do!
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by UKTraveller4Fun View Post
I am not sure I fully agree with this, the model you describe above is pretty much how all the hotel companies operate now and it is simply a question of how well Marriott hold those hotels to account.
That's not true. Let's look at this document from Hyatt:

As of 2017, Hyatt had 170 full-service hotels in the Americas, 83 full-service hotels in Asia-Pacific, and 78 full-service hotels in Europe and the Middle East for a worldwide total of 331 full-service hotels. Of those 331 full-service hotels, Hyatt managed 274 or 88.77% in 2017. No wonder Hyatt is leaps-and-bounds more consistent than Marriott.

By comparison, Hilton managed 465 full-service hotels (36.38% of its full-service hotels) worldwide in 2018, if you include Hilton's Double Tree and Curio Collection brands. The number of full-service properties managed by third parties was 746 (58.37%), again if you include Hilton's Double Tree and Curio Collection brands. Hilton's top brands, Conrad and Waldorf Astoria, are almost exclusively managed by Hilton.
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Last edited by hockeyinsider; Mar 14, 19 at 4:54 pm
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:40 pm
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Saw that post on facebook - posted by the founder of Bonvoyed.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 5:01 pm
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I think you can put me down for 26 cases.

Nearly all due to Marriott incompetence.

Some of the conversations with both Starwood and Marriott agents over the past 10 months or so have ranged from adequate to totally bizarre.

Where have all the good agents from both sides pre-merger gone to? SImply quit?
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Old Mar 14, 19, 5:13 pm
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
Let's say there are, in fact, 110 million customer service cases logged. If Marriott has 500 agents, that's 220,000 cases per agent. If every agent works an unrealistic 365 days per year, they would have to clear 602 cases per day. This is just crazy -- and that's assuming my math -- I flunked math three times in college -- is correct.

You'll need a lot more than "executive backing" to clear the backlog.
Marriott has 1.2 million rooms. Do you think there's an open customer service case for every single room night since they rolled out the combined program in August? My goodness - the nonsense that finds it way to the internet.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 5:30 pm
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme View Post
Marriott has 1.2 million rooms. Do you think there's an open customer service case for every single room night since they rolled out the combined program in August? My goodness - the nonsense that finds it way to the internet.
In the original post I commented that the 110 million figure seemed unbelievable. On the other hand, 500 million guest records from legacy Starwood were apparently breached. So, 110 million cases opened isn't inconceivable if it includes guests who contacted Marriott about this.
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