The hardest part of any hotel elite program is ensuring consistent delivery of benefits at the check-in counter. The greatest failure point comes from relying on thousands of front desk agents being well-trained, well-motivated, and even relies on their not having a bad day.
While most airline benefits are computerized, most hotel benefits rely on a person to deliver.
Starwood has removed some of the human element with its Suite Night Upgrades for Platinums who stay 50 or more nights — 10 room nights a year where members can have an upgrade confirmed up to 5 days in advance, this is assigned by computer based on published room inventory, removing much of the discretion from the process.
And Hyatt goes even farther, though the upgrades are requested and confirmed by humans it’s done in advance 4 times a year for their Diamonds (at time of booking even, and for all Diamonds, up to 7 nights per stay — paid rates only, not on award nights the way Starwood offers).
For the hospitality industry it’s somewhat ironic that to deliver the best service experience it’s necessary to remove the human element.
But the significance of this is revealed, I think, by a comment posted on my blog by someone reporting to be a JW Marriott front desk agent.
For someone who works at the front desk of a JW Marriott I can honestly say that I am glad you all are leaving the program because every single person at that front desk would be happy to never see any of you Platinum members ever walk through the doors of their hotel again. Do you think you are in some way special because of how many nights you are punished to stay in hotels because of your careers? Almost all who have posted on here are platinum members, this is no way means that you are special or you truly deserve any of the benefits you receive. In our hotel we sometimes have 40% of our nearly 1000 room hotel full of elite members; Gold, silver, and Platinum. So why should it make any difference whether you receive your suite, or your breakfast, or your gym pass, or your concierge access? If you really want those things so badly, pay for them yourselves like the rest of the working world. I’ve had platinum members curse at me for not offering them free breakfast and all I can think of is how there are starving children in other countries and I’m being yelled at by a man in a thousand dollar suit whinging like a small child because they didn’t get what they wanted.
The Marriott Company offers great hotels with great service, just because we do not lick your shoes when you came in does not mean you have to stop staying at their properties. If you really want someone to take you to the gym and give you all of the free access and privileges then go home to your mothers, I’m sure they’re give you free breakfast and hold your hand and take care of you like you really want.
I’ve only worked in my position for 6 months but I’m actually leaving the company and only for one reason. Platinum Members. So next time you check in to your hotels I want you to really think about how you are not special, that you do not “deserve” anything you are promised as a Platinum member, and that when you yell and complain at the front desk the people who work there only stare at you with hatred and loathing and see you as the egotistical, rude, selfish, and stuck-up people you really are. So thank you for staying as Platinum members, but don’t let it go to your heads and make you feel any more special than you actually aren’t.
A Pissed off Front Desk Agent.
I haven’t confirmed the identity of the poster, the particulars of the story don’t much matter. They’re reminiscent of Hotel Bablyon or probably even more dramatically Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, a book I discussed in the context of tipping for upgrades.
No doubt there are plenty of people working at hotels that are unhappy with their jobs, or even their lives.
Which is why the best advice for getting the best service, even more than having elite status in a hotel program, is simply to be nice and to connect with the person checking you in on a human level.
Rather than being a ‘DYKWIA’ (don’t you know who I am???), I find that mocking those people. goes a long way. That's especially true when you see someone checking in ahead of you that's being difficult with the front desk agent you're working with. It's the perfect opportunity to sympathize with them. They'll be instantly much more inclined to be helpful to you because of the contrast, and it’s a little way in which they can ‘set the universe right’ by rewarding ‘nice’ and doing so voluntarily after being bullied into it earlier.
A status card is an entree, an excuse for someone to provide above and beyond treatment. But it’s rarely the reason for doing so. Being nice, being friendly, asking pleasantly, and being elite goes a long way.
Because so many benefits are delivered by human beings. Some of whom are having a bad day. And some of whom even think like the person above, writing in my comments.