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Bill Kalmar

Quality Insider

Marriott Scores A Hat Trick

It’s no trick, it’s a treat.

Published: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 04:30

In ice hockey parlance a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a single game.  A perfect hat trick is when a player scores three goals in succession—a rare feat. But of course being from Detroit, the home of our renowned Red Wings, we are accustomed to these feats of talent.

A hotel chain that also scores a hat trick on a regular basis is Marriott. Finicky travelers such as myself revel in the attention to detail at all the Marriott properties. It can be summed up in the Three C’s: courtesy, cleanliness, and consistency.

Before you conclude that I have become a paid shill for Marriott, let me remind you that most of my past columns deal with personal experiences that have somehow affected quality and performance excellence. As such, I have commented on the exemplary service at the Ritz-Carlton and the not so exemplary service at Verizon Wireless, and the substandard service I received from my health care provider. So when it comes to rants on a particular company, I leave no stone unturned. Conversely, when I encounter service and employees that are a cut above the standards in a particular industry, I don’t hesitate to make my comments public. And frankly, that’s what quality professionals are supposed to do. 

In that regard, you may recall that in a previous column entitled “A Few of My Favorite Quality Things,” I provided a list of establishments that, in my mind, exceeded customer expectations. I prefaced that column with this admonition: 

“To be a quality professional means that you must possess a trained eye and a sensitive ear for the delivery of exceptional service. We are a group of people who have set the bar so high that at times it may be difficult or almost impossible for service personnel to meet our expectations. As such, when we single out a company or person for our admiration, I conclude that it’s a special moment, because all of us enjoy being associated with high levels of quality.”

Those remarks are as true today as when I penned them about a year ago. Having said that, let me talk about another of my favorites—Marriott.

Our family has frequented the various hotels in the Marriott chain for as long as I can remember. That would include the Fairfield Inn & Suites, the Courtyard, the Residence Inn, the Renaissance Hotel, the J.W. Marriott Hotel, TownPlace Suites, Springhill Suites, and of course, the flagship Marriott Hotel. My frequent business trips also took me to these same hotels and it continues to this day on pleasure trips and vacations.

When it comes to courtesy, the Marriott brand has no equal and is head and shoulders above other chains. No matter the time of day, be it very late at night in some small town or early in the morning before the sun rises, hotel staff have always treated us with dignity, sensitivity, and a sense of refined urgency.

A case in point: During a recent family vacation to Holland, Michigan, which included all 11 of our grandchildren, I jokingly but somewhat seriously suggested to the front office clerk that our grandchildren and their parents should be lodged on a separate floor, away from my wife, Mary, and I. In addition, it was my suggestion that all their rooms should be adjoining, if at all possible. And since all of us arrived before noon, we wanted immediate access to our rooms. Now a request such as this would unnerve most front office staff, but our representative leaped into action and within 30 minutes, we had checked in and were on our way to a day of canoeing and rafting. Most of you will agree that a before noon check-in is difficult, but somehow the courtesy of the clerk and his sense of urgency accomplished this impossible task. He gets a hat for courtesy and a tip of the hat for allowing us the peace and solitude of being on a separate floor from our 11 grandchildren!

About a year ago, we traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, for a Thanksgiving weekend and a Bar Mitzvah for our grandson Zach. We usually stay with our daughter at her home but knowing how hectic it would be preparing her four children for this momentous event, we opted to stay at a hotel. While all the other guests stayed at a different chain, we of course checked in at the Courtyard Marriott in Marysville, a suburb of St. Louis. While we were at the front desk the clerk asked an associate to inspect our room one more time before we checked in. Needless to say, the room was spotless. I have to admit that as a Marriott Platinum member there are some extra amenities, such as a private reservation line, but to have a room rechecked before entering was certainly not part of the benefits as far as I was concerned, but who am I to argue with perfection. The entire staff at the Marysville Courtyard gets a hat for cleanliness!

Our travels have taken us to numerous cities from Michigan to Florida to California to Washington D.C., to name just a few. What we have found is a passion for excellence, a friendly, energetic, invigorated staff, and rooms that are professionally appointed with exceptionally clean restrooms. And the follow-up reminders about an upcoming stay along with detailed information on activities and sights in the town are much appreciated. 

Consistency in the hotel industry is one of the key elements and Marriott rises to the top, earning it’s third hat. Many years ago Lee Iacocca, then chairman of Chrysler Corp., had a challenge to potential buyers of automobiles when he said, “If you can find a better automobile, buy it.” I echo his words when I say, “If you can find a hotel chain that consistently offers a high level of service and provides clean rooms and accommodations on a regular basis, stay there!”

In the meantime, we are packing our bags for a relaxing stay in Chicago, where we may take in a hockey game against those pesky Blackhawks. Just like the Marriott hotel chain, I look forward to our Red Wings scoring a hat trick. 


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.