Marriott’s CEO Doesn’t Understand The Basics Of Booking A Hotel Reservation

In my “day job”, I oversee the day-to-day operations of a number of businesses.  I’ve always prided myself on really wanting to understand what our customers see and experience.  I spend days in some of our operations learning the challenges our employees deal with to take care of those customers.  I’m always amazed when CEOs don’t understand their customer experience.  And, I’m frequently surprised by the fact that leaders don’t understand the jobs their employees are required to perform.  For the past couple of years, Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines had not flown in coach on the airline’s new 737 MAX airplane.  That might not sound like much, but it represented a stark departure from previous planes, with smaller seats, less legroom and cramped bathrooms.  Conversely, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly was on the inaugural 737 MAX flight for Southwest.

Marriott’s CEO Just Doesn’t Get It

Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson is back in the news.  His most recent comments are nowhere near as bad as when he referred to problems with the merger as “noise around the edges”.  But, this one is pretty bad.

Sorenson was asked about the Marriott data breach recently in an interview.  His reply was stunning.  I’m not even going to get into the stuff about having a nice, short recession.  You should read that for yourself.

Sorenson was asked why Marriott holds onto passport data.  His reply:

We want ease when we travel. in many countries around the world we’re required to take your passport… If you’re making a reservation and a passport number is required, if you’ve got to enter it all over again every time, most consumers will say this is a pain it takes me a whole lot longer.

Full stop.  This is not how reservations work.

According to the Marriott website (which probably shouldn’t be trusted), I have stayed almost 900 nights in SPG and Marriott hotels.  I’ve got hundreds more with the likes of Hyatt, IHG, Hilton and others.  I simply can’t recall any booking, ever, where I had to supply my passport information at the time of booking.

The CEO of Marriott went on television and told millions of viewers a story about how reservations work. 

That story wasn’t true.  In what world is that okay?  Either he has no idea how to make a hotel reservation or he told a convenient story to make Marriott sound better to the public.  I’m honestly not sure which one is worse.

He also notes that when they heard there was an incident they knew they needed to go out to their customers very quickly.  Except, they waited almost 3 months to announce it after they learned of the breach.  And, then they did an extremely poor job reaching out to individual customers affected by the breach.

The Final Two Pennies

I’m not one for lots of hyperbole in blog posts.  I tend to think that there’s always a middle ground, a more moderate position.  On Marriott’s performance in the past 6 months, I don’t see a whole lot of moderation.  There are still plenty of problems but Marriott doesn’t seem to want to be open and honest about those issues.  Comments like these from Arne Sorenson are not helpful to the overall trustworthiness of the brand right now.

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  1. That is very surprising because I’ve met him, I’ve heard him speak and he clearly knows his business. Maybe he is right and in some countries other than the ones that you have been to, what he says is correct?

  2. A CEO that doesn’t know how to a make a reservation…..and a US President that doesn’t know reality…..parallel themes this week indeed !

  3. I checked into an Extended Stay hotel last week. I had been late renewing my driver license and just had the paper temp license. It didn’t resonate at the time, but the front desk told me they “usually scan” the ID. Whaaaaaat? Why? To make life “easier for me”? I don’t think so. I for sure don’t understand why a US hotel keeps your PASSPORT NUMBER in their data base. Do they scan that too? The whole concept of having your personal details on the internet seems OK with many people … people who don’t THINK. We shouldn’t have our personal details in some hotel’s database Either I’m naive, or this is just plain STUPID.

  4. I loved SPG and was indifferent to Marriott until the merger. After the initial successes with the merger, there has been zero good news and lots of bad from Marriott. I’m in the process of burning my points and then will wish them a hearty Bonvoy. They really seem to actively dislike their customers, which is weird, but telling super blatant lies is just insulting to all parties involved.

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