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Yesterday I had to stay overnight at the Marriott Airport Hotel in Philadelphia, in order to catch an early flight today. Even at the best of hotels, service is spotty these days (to put it politely). Great moments are rare, and worth pointing out. After a while, frequent travelers like me almost give up hoping for them. To be sure, I expected it to be worse-than-usual at an “airport” location.

Boy, was I surprised!

Upon arrival, I was welcomed by a cheerful bellman asking if I needed luggage help. I didn’t but that didn’t stop him from smiling and joking with me.

At the front desk, the woman looked me right in the eye and said, “We’ve been expecting you!” You don’t hear that phrase too often, as most desk clerks rattle off their intake script with robotic efficiency or feigned patience. I’d used the app to check-in but the clerk had her hand on the key in seconds. I was in the elevator in under two minutes.

After hanging up my coat, I picked up the phone and pressed Marriott’s “At Your Service” button to order room service. The phone had a loose wire, so at first, I could barely hear the voice on the other end. But once I wiggled the handset and we could hear each other, the woman on the other end threw in a couple of one-liners about “standing on one foot with my arms out to get a better signal” and we laughed our way through my order.

Delivery was remarkably quick. When I answered the door, the gentleman with my meal proved once again that polite, old-fashioned manners will make your day every time. I felt like shaking his hand, just to say, thank you for remembering the niceties.

Talk about an integrated customer service experience!

I’d stayed at posher hotels in nicer spots that never rose to this level of simple, thoughtful service. What struck me was that it wasn’t just one person, either: Every department delivered the “wow” moment, no matter how little the job. Marriott’s team had the entire customer experience down-pat, and the consistency showed.

It wasn’t only at the hotel, either. Someone at Marriott figured out that service doesn’t start or stop at the door. It started with the app, which helped me check in from the cab with a minimum of hassle. It continued with the people. Then, it seamlessly picked up online.

You see: I was so impressed, I sent this tweet, which Marriott promptly responded to:

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The customer appreciation was seamless. It was if the social media team were at the hotel part of the process. More importantly, the conversation was personal, Jan talking to me. It couldn’t be a “bot” response, any more than it could have been a generic lobby greeting or a scripted service call. The total customer experience must be personal, whether delivered by smart phone or smart staff.

But wait, there’s more!

I’d already decided to write about it on today’s flight when I logged in to check my email, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw this in my inbox:

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Just wow.

Thank you, Marriott, especially at the Philadelphia Airport, for one of the finest examples of what can happen when you work as a team, think out the entire customer journey, and deliver a total customer experience that inspires. You prove so many rules that bear repeating:

That customer service matters.

That manners are not old fashioned.

That being non-scripted can still be high class.

That every point along the customer journey deserves attention.

And that the online experience is just as important as the offline one.

Especially when you plan it all and deliver it seamlessly.


Nicely done, team Marriott!