Goodbye Marriott and Hello Sofitel

After fours years of spending every second week staying at the Marriott Sydney Harbour, I got fed up. Not once in four years did I ever spot the General Manager (Walter Imoos spent at least four hours everyday greeting guests at the Menzies Hotel) and after all that time, only one staff member remembers my name. Despite my gold guest status I am treated like any once-off guest and only upgraded if the hotel is empty. Once I asked if I could lock in a rate to make bookings easy and fast. I was offered a rate that was 20% higher than the average one-time person off the street could secure on http://www.wotif.com. The hotel is badly in need of an upgrade with the old style TV sets taking up half the room and towels that are often worn and thin. On a recent stay my wake up call never arrived and my towel had a hole in it which I politely pointed out in a note to the rooms director but heard nothing back. Three times I filled in the guest comment card, but again no response. The staff are don’t seem very happy – usually not their fault, but a result of poor leadership and motivation. Sorry Marriott but my loyalty has its limits and your hotel should take a good hard look at itself.

Imagine my surprise when I received a very nice note on my http://www.tripadvisor.com post from the Sofitel Hotel. The extremely friendly and polite Jakki Temple, Director Of Sales and Marketing, who offered to personally introduce me to their hotel, upgrade me to their executive benefits and set me a fair rate for each of my visits. This is the most impressive, personalised marketing I have seen for some time. What a great way to secure new customers during tough times. I cant wait to try the Sofitel – lets hope their towels are in good order!

Update 17 June – received an apology letter from the GM and was offered a free entry to the Executive Lounge – so generous considering I get that free anyway as a Gold member. Unbelievable.
Update 12 July – responded that I was overwhelmed by their generosity but they will need to do better than that and actually know what their loyalty programs actually offer.
Update 19 July – heard nothing so called up looking for the name of the regional director so I could vent my disgust. Wow – the GM emailed me immediately!! Eventually we agreed on a reasonably rate for my regular stays. Let’s hope things change and someone actually recognizes me.
Update 21 July – nice note and cheap bottle of wine in my room when I checked in – it is the thought that counts.
Update 11 August – everything back to normal, not one staff member recognizes acknowledges my visit at all.

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