On the Same Playing Field with the University of Florida Gators

January 14, 2009

IStock_000002031740XSmall Each year, Donna and I spend the holidays and part of January at our Harbor Beach Marriott hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  It's right on the ocean, and this year the weather has been terrific.

This January, our hotel was the headquarters hotel for the BCS college football bowl - this was the national championship.  I asked the BCS committee chairman if I could meet the University of Florida coach, Urban Meyer, to thank him for his great previous coaching job at my alma mater, the University of Utah.

Coach Meyer established a terrific football program at Utah, allowing them to win eight consecutive bowl games and finishing 2008 as the only undefeated team in college football.  This year, Utah finished number two in the national championship AP poll, right behind Urban Meyer's Florida, which was number one.

I had a good visit with the coach and listened to him participate in two press conferences.  One before the national championship game with Oklahoma, and one after Florida defeated them.  They won the national championship for the second time in three years.

Coach Meyer is a very smart and talented coach, but in the press interviews, he said the X's and O's and play calling were important, but the key to victory in football is the people.  He said, "Football is a people business."

When asked about his team and coaches, he stressed the importance of family values and good character as the most important thing to winning.  When he recruits new college players, he visits them in their homes and wants to meet and know their families.  To me, he evidenced a true, caring attitude toward his players.  He believes that character really counts and he recruits for strong personal values in his players.

At Marriott, I believe if we continue to follow our core values of caring for our people, we will come through this difficult economic environment in great shape.  It's already happening as we are seeing our market share and guest satisfaction scores continue to improve.  The strength of our brands is important, but it's how our people interact with our customers that really makes the difference.

I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

On the Same Playing Field with the University of Florida Gators

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I agree with the posters about the rewards program being a mess. Can we just transfer them?

Bingo! I too am very upset with the point change. I have always (only) stayed at Marriott, and always trusted the chain. I feel like things are being taken away from us. Is it worth now having to (originally need 120,000 points for a 6 night stay in a category 6 hotel, and now need an additional 30,000 points for that same stay? Not a good incentive to keep customers. I also have a Chase Marriott Rewards Credit Card, and I was given a $100 bonus coupon after spending $25,000. This starts January each year, and I received mine last July and it was only good until February 2009, and Marriott only lets you use it at certain hotels. So after accumulating this bonus, you then have to wait weeks just to get the coupon, and then it runs out before you can even use it.
Also, whenever there is a problem, you call Marriott Rewards, and they tell you to call Chase, You call Chase and they tell you to call Marriott Rewards. I have a stay in St. Thomas in April, and cannot use my bonus coupon.
What actually is Marriotts benefit over using other cards with their points? I always loved Marriott, but think the benefits are certainly shrinking. If you want more happy customers, this is not the way to go.

I believe the change in the Marriot's rewards not only dilute the points that I currently have (more than 500K), but dilute my trust in the brand, if you are going to change the rules of your point system you NEED to give the people like myself the net change of the impact in the rewards system, for example for the highest former category 7 I needed 150K for 7 days, now I need for the new max category hotel 8 a total of 240K that is 90K that I lose for every 150K,then if I have 500K I am lossing at least 270K that was promised before.
I have been platinum and gold for many years probably acumulating more easily than 200 nights at your hotel with the spectation and trust of an specific reward, now I find my self with new rules that forget that I like, stay and promote your hotel among my family friends and coworkers, I even have the marriot's visa credit card because I accumulate points. But that trust is broken for ever if this change does not take into account the earlier spectation of customers like myself.
I hope that you understand that is more costly losing valued custmoers like myself than looking for new ones.
Rodrigo Medina
Marriot #*** *** ***

Dear Mr. Marriott,
with the increasing oil prices, electricity tariff rates, and the increase in global warming, our earth is becoming more inclined to environmental destruction and pollution.
Please allow me to introduce an automated tube cleaning system for chillers that will help to save Marriott's electricity by conserving energy and promote a clean and green environment.
I hope you can take some time out of your busy schedule to understand more about this system:
HydroBall Technics (S.E.A.) Pte Ltd was incorporated in January 2003 and is led by a team of experienced engineers. Our company is the manufacturer and distributor of our own globally patented technology and solutions. HydroBall Technics aims to deliver energy conservation solutions with a strong, measurable impact on energy cost management and productivity
Our patented creation "HydroBall Automated Cleaning System" utilizes sponge balls and is designed to clean and maintain optimal efficiency of shell and tube heat exchangers, commonly used in commercial air-conditioning system, ship vessels, refineries and industrial processes.
Due to its innovativeness and simplicity of using; the system has won The Enterprise Challenge (TEC) Award from the Singapore's Prime Minister's Office and attained an approval of Singapore's BCA (Building Construction Authority) Greenmark.
The revolutionary HydroBall System does not only eliminate equipment downtime, but also optimizes energy consumption. Customers could save up to 30% energy by installing our sound engineering design system.
HydroBall system could also reduce costs by:
1. Reducing air-con electricity bill up to 10% - 30%
2. Keeps the heat exchanger perpetually free from fouling and scaling
3. Eliminates shutdown time for tubes maintenance
4. Cutting down water consumption and wastage of water
5. Lengthening the life span of heat exchangers and condenser systems
6. Lowering air-con maintenance costs
7. Lessening the use of pollutant chemicals and biocides
The demand for the installation of our system has rapidly increased since 2005 with a number of Government Agencies, Schools and Multi-National Corporations being our customers.
Thank you for your time, consideration and attention. We look forward to your favourable reply. Have a nice day ahead!

Mr. Marriott,
I am new to reading your blog (or any for that matter). It is easy now to see where my daughter gets her passion for the details. She was proud to be on the opening staff at your JW in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is employed there still as she is completing her degree in the Hospitality field, and I'm certain that she is learning far more in your beautiful JW Marriott than in the classroom. Kudos to you for making the details matter to your guests and your staff. Job well done!

Dear Bill,
With great pleasure I've read about the Marriott's green ambitions and initiatives. One comment I would like to make though, the televisions sets in hotel rooms are on standby power most of the time (thanks to your high occupancy percentage). This is wasting valuable energy all the time and increasing the carbon footprint of Marriott. Our company offers a solution: the TV Standby Power Saver, small investment for anyone, on average the user will recuperate the purchase price within 12 months..., the product comes with a 5 year warranty. Check out www.mss.eu.
With kind regards and appreciative of the wonderful Marriott service always,
Harald Nielsen
CEO MSS Freelux

How about all loyal Marriott customers who are also proud Gators receive a free week in any Marriott hotel throughout 2009?! Business IS all about the people! :) Go Gators!

I didn't realize that the team he built ended up #2 and the team he's currently coaching is #1...that's pretty impressive. Family and character are important things in every aspect of life, it's nice to hear a coach mention them as the most important things to his program.

Hi Bill, I enjoy your blogs and I am a faithfull customer even retired the past few years have made the 75 nights to continue my Platinum membership and the Harbor Beach is one of our favorite hotels we live only 90 minuets away but do visit now and then

As a fellow U of U grad, it was great for me to see the continued success of the program. There can be no denying that the Utes truly belong on the national stage.
Go Utes!

Mr Marriott states At Marriott, I believe if we continue to follow our core values of caring for our people, we will come through this difficult economic environment in great shape. It's already happening as we are seeing our market share and guest satisfaction scores continue to improve. The strength of our brands is important, but it's how our people interact with our customers that really makes the difference.
WHAT ? Is he wearing rose tinted spectacles? With the new 2009 Reward awards, he has just wrecked the vacation values of most of his vacation villa owners. Surely he cannot believe his sales staff are doing a good job recommending the sale of timeshare at inflated values linked to points.Sales staff told me to buy 'Point Farms' I now have 10 useless weeks of his timeshare.Still there will be few owner recommendations, so maybe he will have to close the sales offices. Trouble is he won't lose, greedy companies rarely do. It's just the customer/guest that suffers Just look at the values over the last 23 years. The villa/point trade value has never changed. It's time to upgrade it by 100%

Hi Bill,
I'm a loyal 25 year Marriott Only customer (and a Florida Gator fan) and I love reading your blog. You are correct, it is the Marriott people that make the difference. I was staying at a Fairfield Inn last year and had an emergency and the staff there responded as if I were staying in a full service Marriott! I had an appointment with a half million dollar account and locked my keys in my rental car - it was one of those mornings! I was suppose to arrive on time for the meeting with 12 dozen bagels (it was a large facility with lots of people). If I would have had to wait 1 hour for the AAA locksmith to arrive I would have missed my meeting. One of the front desk assoiciates offered to drive me to my sales call in their personal vehicle (and she even offered to drive me to the bagel store so I could keep my committment). My meeting was a great success thanks to your associate. Now that is what Marriott is all about to me. That is why I try to NEVER stay at a Hilton hotel - I am a Marriott fan! Thanks for setting the tone and culture for such a great company.
Rob Carryl
PS I am trying to make a Marriott Rewards reservation in the Middle East and having some difficulty through the reservation line. Could you possibly have someone contact me to help me? Thanks again!

Hi! Im Diego from Perú. Today i heart my teacher talking about your blog, i couldnt belive it, i was really surprise becouse i guess be connected with the people(clients) is the most important.In Perú we have a really beutifuls and cool Marrios Hotels, i stayed once in there-my cousin came to my home so there wasnt anyother room, so my dad sent my brother and my to the hotel to stay for that night.My english is inprove, i hope i could understand everything you were saying, i still using the diccionary to get everything. Marriot Rocks!

Go Gators! Thanks Bill for another great post. It's refreshing to hear you reenforce such rock solid core principles. It's also fantastic to hear how Coach Meyer sets a great example of goodness in life for his players and us all. And he and his players prove that nice guys don't have to finish last. You see that goodness in his life, his team, and in the Marriotts we visit. Keep on moving Bill!

Mr. M - after congratulating Coach Meyer, you should have offered the Seabiscuit challenge - a one game showdown v. the Utes!
Winner takes all and bragging rights to the claim #1 in College Football.
Which in the eyes of many, this Irish kid included, is the undefeated Utes.
All the best the M clan.

Bill-as a proud alumni of the Univeristy of Florida I am thrilled with the outcome of last weeks game. I know coach Meyer tries to instill a team first mentality based on trust, respect and effort with a major emphasis on family.
I have noticed a similar feeling at many of your hotels over the years and believe it all goes back to your leadership, coaching and empasis on treating guests like family. When we are away from our homes and families, it's nice to receive the great service, friendly smile and comfortable accomodations at your locations.
Here's to more great years of service from you and your team and more championships for Meyer and the Gators.

Bill: You and Urban Meyer practice what has forever been the real strength of organizations and teams, namely, it is the people of the organizations and teams that produce consistently excellent results year after year. A little irony exists with Urban Meyer. He was, I believe, a graduate assistant in football at the Unversity of Cincinnati where he went to school (my alma mater) but no one envisioned his brilliance then. While we now have an excellent coach in Brian Kelly, in those lean years we could certainly have used an Urban Meyer.
Let us hope that after the financial crisis ultimately turns around that more CEO's will follow the lead of you and Mr. Meyer understanding what is really important.