Recent Experience Trying To Book at Marriott

My cousin is getting married later this year and they arranged a room block at the Residence Inn Marriott. Their wedding website says to call the Marriott to book a room…so I did. This was a Sunday evening. I navigated the automated system to reservations. When I told the reservations agent that I am booking a room under a wedding room block, she said that only their Director of Sales and Marketing (DOSM) could make that reservation.

She said to call the same number in the morning anytime after 8am. I thought it odd but there was nothing I could do, so I thanked her and hung up.

The next day, Monday morning, I called and once again navigated to reservations. I thought it was odd that only one person in the whole hotel could do something as simple as make a reservation so instead of asking to speak to the DOSM I went to reservations and said I need to make a reservation under a room block. It was a different person from the night before. She seemed like she could make the reservation. She asked me for:

the name of the room block (the last names of the bride and groom)

dates – check in/check out

I gave her all the info. She couldn’t find the room block based on the name I gave her, which was the exact name my cousin said it’s under. Then I gave her the bride’s first and last name as well as the groom’s first and last name.

And the reservations agent proceeded to make the “reservation”. Keep reading to understand why I put “reservation” in quotes. I asked the reservations agent what name worked – which name did she find the room block under? I wanted to know because I have other family that are going to book rooms, so I wanted to make it easier for them. Then the reservations agent said she still actually hadn’t found the room block but she sees a room block for the exact dates I gave her so she assumed it’s that one. Then she said that room block has only 1 type of room available (studios only) and gave me the room rate.

I asked, “how do we confirm that’s the correct room block and that you’re giving me the correct rate?” She said I’d have to talk to their Director of Sales and Marketing. So she connected me to the DOSM who didn’t answer the phone and I left a voicemail. That was Monday morning. By Friday evening I had not received a call back so I texted my cousin to tell her what had transpired.

My cousin contacted the Marriott to sort it all out. Later that day I got a text from her telling me to call the hotel again and that all should be squared away. So on Saturday I tried again. When I told the reservations agent I am calling to make a reservation she immediately said, “we don’t take reservations over the phone anymore, you have to book online.” Keeping my cool I said, “I was told to call this number to make a reservation under a wedding room block.” Then she said, “oh, room blocks are different.” And she proceeded to make the reservation.

The whole process was:

  • a major waste of my time
  • nobody at Marriott seemed to know what they were doing – ad hoc
  • frustrating and annoying
  • really bad customer experience

I feel compelled to point out that their core business is booking room nights…and it was so challenging. When you call this Marriott, the automated system says, “to make a reservation push x”. So then why did the agent tell me they don’t take reservations over the phone? Why couldn’t they find the room block to begin with? Why is their process that only one person (DOSM) can do the simple task of booking a room? Why didn’t the Director of Sales and Marketing, or anyone, ever call me back? Pretty inhospitable for a leader in hospitality.

By the way, this wasn’t a Marriott property in a small town in the middle of nowhere. This is a Residence Inn, in Silicon Valley, California.

I try to focus on positive travel moments, but I also like to share a realistic view by sharing a broad range of travel experiences. It increasingly seems like good customer service is difficult to find – especially at big companies and especially within the travel industry.

The travel lesson for me – or rather not a lesson but reinforcement of a lesson is that while traveling some things are going to go wayward. Often, the only part that I can control is how I react. Stressing out, getting frustrated or even angry harms only 1 person — me. So I chose not to react that way. I have gotten stressed, frustrated and even angry at wayward travel situations, in the past so this was a small victory.

I hope you do not have an experience like this – ever. But if you do, I hope you can get through it one step at a time with as little stress and frustration as possible.

Cheers to travel!

Negative experience booking a room at a Marriott hotel.

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