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The Marriott Hotel chain is one of the world’s best-known organizations operating in the hospitality industry. The company has gained the status of a luxury one due to the quality of services and the extent of comfort that it is ready to provide to its guests. The ability to meet the highest demands of its guests arises from Marriott’s unique way of managing operations, among which front office ones take a crucial spot. Marriott started its journey in 1927 and has been growing ever since.
Due to its focus on expansion and the policies of acquisition, Marriot currently owns more than 100 brands (Marriott Bonvoy, 2019). Among the ones that Marriott considers particularly important assets, one should mention the Courtyard hotels and the Ritz-Carlton services (Marriott Bonvoy, 2019). Having been acquired by Marriott in 2019 and 1998 correspondingly, the two brands represent Marriott’s notion of luxury and high-quality services quite well. While the luxury of the Ritz-Carlton services does not need specific introductions, Courtyard offers much more humble rooms at more affordable prices for families and business travels (Marriott Bonvoy, 2019). The brands in question could not be more different in the environment that they have created for their visitors, Ritz-Carlton boasting its highly luxurious services and Courtyard emphasizing the charm of its simplicity.
The goal of this report is to look at the differences in the implementation of services by the Room Division Departments in each of the brands defined above to compare them and understand what factors matter in achieving guest satisfaction. Despite being drastically different, both brands have achieved high customer satisfaction levels by learning to appeal to their unique demands.
Differences between the Responsibilities
The Room Division Department is the heart of every hotel since it determines the roles and functions that the rest of the brand’s departments will play in meeting customers’ demands and facilitating the required extent of quality. However, due to the necessity to cater to different demands, the responsibilities of Room Division Departments in the Courtyard hotels and the Ritz-Carlton services are quite different from each other.
However, in many areas, the responsibilities of the Room Division Department at Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton overlap since there are set standards for addressing customers’ needs that both luxury brands and their more budget versions have to provide. These services include welcoming the guests, checking them in, and preparing the room (Marriott International, n.d.). While these standards are quite basic, the difference in execution becomes evident once the approaches used at Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton are compared. The traditional set of standards including checking in, preparing the room, and registering new customers is provided at Courtyard, which features a decent set of options for clients. However, At Ritz-Carlton, visitors are also offered complimentary services that elevate the quality of support and make guests feel special (Marriott Bonvoy, 2019). Therefore, there are different dynamics between the staff members and customers at each of the hotels, which separates the luxurious brands from the budget ones.
Front Office Operations
Similar to the Room Division, the Front Office Operations are quite different for luxurious and budget brands, as the examples of Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard show respectively. At both hotels, the managers of Front Office Operations are expected to resolve issues that guests may have when using the hotel’s facilities and services. Addressing complaints is another crucial part of the Front Office Operations Department (Marriott International, n.d.). Although Courtyard represents a significantly cheaper version of Ritz-Carlton, the focus on customers’ satisfaction is substantially high in both settings, which is an indicator of the homogenous corporate philosophy that both services follow. The influence of corporate values and the promotion of Marriott’s concept of quality management is evident when comparing the efficacy of Front Office Operations at Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton.
The preparation for guest arrivals is quite different at Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton, yet the general spirit of hospitality is equally strong in both hotels. At Ritz-Carlton, the preparation includes not only preparing impeccably clean and orderly rooms but also asking visitors about their unique needs and how the hotel staff could meet them. At Courtyard, room preparation may take some time due to possible hindrances in the management of services, yet guests are always provided with compensation for any inconveniences.
Welcoming guests is an inseparable part of hospitality services. The process of welcoming is quite similar at Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard, from the procedure of checking in to the process of showing them to their rooms. However, at luxury brands such as Ritz-Carlton, additional tools that allow guests to feel welcome are used. For instance, the use of automated tools that help to set an ideal temperature in a room as soon as its status changes from vacant to occupied is one of the features that distance luxury services from the ones that are more humble in terms of their budget.
The level of service, in general, also varies significantly when comparing Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard. While in the latter, customers are often expected to show a certain amount of autonomy when it comes to addressing specific needs and issues, at Ritz-Carlton, every question is solved by integrating the hotel management system and using the appropriate hotel resources (Kim, Tang, & Roehl, 2018). The described characteristics of luxury services compared to budget ones indicate that the infrastructure of the budget hotels is less sophisticated and, therefore, may not be as timely as one of the luxury brands.
The departure and post-departure processes at Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard also have distinctive differences that allow one to differentiate between luxury and budget hotel brands. During the departure, guests at Courtyard often have to make their way out of the facilities, whereas at Ritz-Carlton, transportation services are most likely to be provided (Schefers, González, Folch, & Munoz-Gamarra, 2018). However, when it comes to the analysis of the post-departure services, the differences between luxury hotels and budget ones have blurred once again. Both Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard give their visitors extensive options for future communication and prepare the foundation for building customer loyalty (Kim et al., 2018). The described steps are achieved by maintaining the dialogue with guests after departure through subscription e-mails, surveys, and other methods of making the target audience feel valued. Moreover, the described techniques allow updating customers on the new services and developments in the hotel environment, thus raising people’s enthusiasm to use the hotel’s services once again.
Three Channels and Tools
Cross-disciplinary collaboration makes the core of successful performance for both luxury and budget hotels. As long as the hotel staff operates coherently and uses collaboration to improve the hotel services and customers’ experience, a hotel is likely to thrive, as the examples of both Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton show. However, the specified cohesion is not quite easy to attain. The communication channels that hotels use to maintain the information flow within their systems constantly need to be elaborate and complex so that no information should be lost during the data management process.
Currently, three main tools used as communication channels in the hospitality industry can be identified. The use of social media is a sure method of keeping customers updated on the latest news and events associated with the hotel, as well as stabling a strong rapport with the target audiences (Berezan, Yoo, & Christodoulidou, 2016). E-mails as a more personal way of contacting target audiences is another important communication channel, yet there is always a possibility that customers may mark new messages as spam if they are sent very frequently and are not targeted specifically at the recipient (Berezan et al., 2016). Finally, credit should be given to public events as an efficient marketing tool and a powerful communication channel (Berezan et al., 2016). Although events cannot be arranged frequently due to the expenses associated with their management and the possibility of losing their significance if performed too often, events serve as the tool for engaging with customers directly and managing the relationships with other participants of the supply chain.
The difference in the target markets of the services that position themselves as luxury and those that define themselves as budget is quite evident and self-explanatory. In Marriott’s case, the Courtyard hotel chain as a budget one focuses on the audiences that may have restricted financial resources or find it necessary to use a cost-efficient approach toward travel. Ritz-Carlton, in turn, appeals to the type of public that seeks luxury and probably deems it as a merit of their social status, or, at the very least, searches or exquisite experiences. Therefore, the tools that each brand uses to attract the attention of their selected audiences are quite different from each other. Depending on whether the services provided at the hotel are luxurious or budgetary, different needs of the target clientele are addressed. For Ritz-Carlton, the need to support the guests’ perception of their social status, as well as the desire to experience unique, exquisite, and, therefore, very experience services is what defines the approach used by the brand to market itself and choose performance strategies. At Courtyard, comfort and cost-efficient options are seen as the essential needs that the hotel staff should seek to address, which is why the target audience of the specified brand includes middle-class citizens rather than those of the upper tier of society.
Current and Supplementary Strategies
The approaches that Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton utilize to respond to customers’ requirements share certain similarities, yet there is a distinctive difference in the extent of supplementary options for customers, the amount of space in hotel rooms, the range of dining options, and other options. Ritz-Carlton seeks to focus on diversity and cost of the services to awe its visitors with luxury. Courtyard, in turn, strives toward cleanliness and accuracy in delivering services to compensate for the lack of additional options. While the described solutions work quite well for both services, additional tools may be needed to support the current streak of success for both brands.
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For Courtyard, the development of a mobile application that could help customers to maintain the dialogue with staff members should be considered. In addition, Courtyard may focus on personalizing the visitors’ experience. For Ritz-Carlton, additional strategies may include developing cultural awareness in Front Office Operators to tailor the services specifically to customers’ unique needs and experiences. Moreover, virtual reality tools and other options for guests to place themselves into the hotel before visiting it and, thus, make their stay as comfortable as possible, should be included (Pinillos, Marcos, Feliz, Zalama, & Gómez-García-Bermejo, 2016). As soon as customers realize that they are regarded as the priority, they will be able to enjoy the hotel services fully.
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