During my travels, I meet a lot of associates around the world. I’m often impressed not just by how well they serve our guests, but how much they love it. They take a lot of pride in being able to make our customers happy. It makes me feel great knowing that these wonderful people are ambassadors for our company.
Ben Voogd, one of Marriott’s 2013 Awards of Excellence honorees, is a perfect example of an associate who takes his role as a goodwill ambassador to heart.
Ben is a Navigator Concierge at the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel in The Netherlands, where he has worked for over 30 years. He spends his days making sure guests have the information they need to explore this great city that he loves so much. He compares it to conducting a big orchestra.
As a life-long resident of Amsterdam, Ben has a unique and intimate knowledge of his great city. He can be seen riding his bicycle to work every day. His handlebar moustache riding above the handlebars of the bike make quite a sight. Ben can easily point out landmarks and points of interest that might not be found on any city map. He invites guests to take a ride on the free ferryboat, and tells them where they can view the sea-level table.
Ben's commitment to his guests extends beyond the hotel, too. Once, when a guest had a heart attack and found himself in an Amsterdam hospital for more than a week, Ben went to see him and his wife every day. He said: “It can be overwhelming to be in a foreign country while having such health concerns. I just wanted to provide them with a friendly face.”
Ben considers his exceptional service to his hotel guests to be just a part of who he is. But his guests and his fellow associates say Ben is the one who is exceptional. They consider him a friend and mentor who always has a story or a joke. He is also known for remembering the names of returning guests, even if he hasn’t seen them for a long time. Ben, however, remains modest. He said, “To remember the names of guests that come back is not very tough. Because the guest is a friend, and you always remember a friend’s name.”
In addition to the canals and museums of Amsterdam, Ben is a major tourist attraction for our guests. He has quite a following, both around town and around the world. Guests return year after year, hoping to see his handlebar moustache riding down the street. I hope you get a chance to meet him, too. Go to Amsterdam soon, he’ll be a friend for life.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.