Ben Voogd: Navigating Amsterdam by Bike

December 9, 2013

Ben Voogd

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.

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I worked with Ben Voogd for many years and reading this information in this blog reads exactly like Ben. He was great with guests and he was a wonderful and funny colleague who was always in for a joke. I shall never forget the wonderful times I have had working for the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel and working with this and many other wonderful colleagues.

now that's called a impressive blogging related to Amsterdam Biking!

Renaissance Amsterdam, here I come...

Very inspirational story. I am wondering if I could rent a bike in Amsterdam and ride around town, using his advice.

Greetings Mr. Marriott,
It is always such a pleasure to read your blog. I look forward to it each week. Although my career began in another hotel company many years ago I have become a committed Marriott man; the reasons abound but can be exemplified by Ben's story.
I sincerely hope I may meet you in person in your next visit to Puerto Rico. You certainly keep Marriott on the move.
Thank you!

Hi, my name is Jerry Karoglu , Navigator/concierge at Polat Renaissance Istanbul Hotel, I love reading about Ben Voogd's accomplishments, I actually remember him visiting our hotel and I am lucky to have met him. I will visit Amsterdam in the future and give him a visit as well. My goal is to be recognized the way he has by not only helping guests but also by taking that extra step for people . Like Ben says, 'To be a Concierge cannot be taught, it has to be in you.' Very True Indeed!!! I have received the Spirit to Serve award from J.W. Marriott Twice thanks to role models such as Ben. Great example of loving your job and going above and beyond for people. Thank you Ben.

Thanks for the story about Ben Voogd. It is the people that make the Marriott world special and your stories about them are my favorite thing that you blog about. Merry Christmas!

Mr. Marriott--

Your words ring true.

It is your employees who are at heart of all my many Marriott stays.

Why would I be able to note is it Mr. Ric Lee who navigates my travels around San Francisco--for over 15 plus years? Is there rhyme or reason why I recall the outstanding service by Ramone at Marriott's former Stanford Court? Oh. Who can forget Anna, Raul, Anthony, Hung, John, Sha, Shannon, Isabelle, and so many more of your warm, personal associates that make Marriott stays feel like home.

Merry Christmas to both you, Donna, and your wonderful extended family.

Brendan Ben Feeney
Newton Lower Falls, MA
and destinations beyond my doorstep……...

We will probably never see Amsterdam, but this article is very interesting and like many of your other employees (i.e. the staff at Towne Place Suites in Tampa), have found them to be most accommodating and friendly.